Accidents Between Trucks and Trains – A Virginia Injury Lawyer’s Perspective
When trucks and trains collide the consequences can be terrible for people on both vehicles. Every year there are about 2,000 collisions between vehicles and trains and many of them involve trucks.
One of the most infamous crashes in recent years occurred in 2011 in Reno in Nevada when an Amtrak train hit a truck on a grade crossing. Six people died in the resulting fiery inferno – five on the train and the truck driver.
Last year a federal jury awarded Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad $4.7 million in a negligence lawsuit brought against a trucking company, John Davis Trucking Co.
The Amtrak accident occurred on June 24, 2011, when truck driver Larry Valli tried to cross the tracks at a grade crossing, causing a collision with Amtrak’s California Zephyr train. Valli, was killed, as was the train’s conductor and four passengers on the train.
A lawsuit brought against the trucking company claimed Valli had a history of speeding citations and was driving a truck with defective brakes. Lawyers representing the rail companies showed camera footage that they claimed showed the trucker was ignoring flashing lights, the crossing gate and warning whistles from the Amtrak train.
However, the trucking company claimed that the gates and lights were malfunctioning and that the railroad companies had destroyed evidence of the defects.
Relatives of the victims of this crash claimed separate wrongful death lawsuits against Valli’s estate and the trucking company.
Earlier this year an Amtrak train derailed in North Carolina when it hit a wide load on the tracks. The derailment in Halifax injured 62 people including the train’s engineer.
Media reports stated a large truck and its trooper escort crossed the tracks on N.C. 903 and tried unsuccessfully to make a left turn onto northbound U.S. 301. The truck driver was backing the trailer onto the railroad tracks as the Amtrak train was approaching, investigators said.
Many of the crashes between trucks and trains occur on grade crossings in remote rural areas where crossings may be rudimentary.
When a truck and train crossing collision occurs, the railroad company often blames the crash on the driver of the truck, even when the railroad company was negligent and at fault for causing the collision. The Nevada crash highlights the complexities of these accidents. Amtrak also faced lawsuits over the accident. An Amtrak attendant who was trying to lead passengers from the burning train after it was hit by a truck claimed in a lawsuit against the railroad that survivors had to go back past dead bodies in a smoky car and jump out a train window because their escape route was blocked by a locked baggage car door.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in an accident on a grade crossing, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.