Published on August 6th, 2019
At present, there are more than 200,000 railroad crossings in the United States. And many commuters drive through these railway crossings on a day to day basis.
The sad part? No one considers the potential dangers of crossing railroads. While accidents between trains and motor vehicles seem unlikely, they are surprisingly very common in the U.S.
For example, there were 2,025 railroad crossing accidents involving vehicles in the U.S in 2016. At least 265 people were killed in such accidents in the same year.
Another 798 people were injured. Believe it or not, a train and vehicle crash with each other every three hours in the country.
Some of the railroad crossings pose a greater threat than others depending on the type of warning signs installed and the condition and upkeep of the crossing itself.
It is the responsibility of the railroad staff to provide vehicle drivers and train engineers with sufficient warning signs.
1. So Who Is At Fault?
The nature of these accidents is very complex and different from a road accident, thus it is very difficult to determine who is at fault.
It requires a lot of experience and understanding of how the law works and how railroad crossings operate. All the aspects must be looked into before giving any conclusion to who is at fault.
To be very clear, the railroad is responsible to maintain safe grade crossings. They must also provide safe working conditions for the staff.
Although all railroad companies have to follow certain rules set by the Federal Railroad Administration, some states have their own laws regarding railroad crossings. All of these can come into play when you are determining who is at fault.
Below are just some of the examples of potential causes of railroad crossing accidents. This may give you more insight into who is actually responsible for the accident.
2. Insufficient Warnings
In the U.S, there are two types of railroad crossings. The first one has active warning devices, automatic gates, flashing lights, and the second one has passive signs. The passive one contains pavement markings telling the driver to stop.
Despite the fact that active warning devices make railroad crossings safer, passive signs are still widely used across the country.
3. Poor Maintenance
Once a railroad crossing is built, it is up to the railroad company to make sure that it is well maintained. The rules are set by the FRA and the company must assure that all gates are working properly and flashing lights are always on.
If any of these important warning signs are not working, they are probably not working due to poor maintenance, thus the company is at fault.
If you have happened to be a part of a railroad crossing collision, an expert lawyer well-versed in the law that governs railroad crossing should easily be able to help you in determining who is at fault.
Most of the time the culprit is the railroad company which means you are entitled to full compensation to the damages that you may have faced.