Hampton Roads has dozens of railroad crossings and there are many others in outlying rural areas such as Suffolk and Southampton County – many of them with few safety features.
As a personal injury lawyer working in this area, I have represented people who have suffered very serious accidents on railroad crossings and the families of those who have died.
When we approach a grade crossing, there is always a tendency to minimize the risks and think it will never happen to us.
In reality, accidents happen a lot more frequently than we might think on grade crossings.
Every year hundreds of people are killed and many more are injured nationwide in rail crossing accidents, although the number of accidents has declined. There were 3,085 accidents across the country that killed 371 people in 2004. Those figures dropped to 2,096 accidents that killed 288 people in 2013, reported the New York Times.
When an Amtrak train derailed after hitting a truck on a crossing in Halifax, North Carolina earlier this year, it was the third high profile grade crossing accident in rapid succession.
The accident in Halifax County left 62 people injured but it could have been far worse and was the third serious crossing accident in two months. In February, a driver and five train passengers were killed when a Metro North train derailed in New York.
Questions were asked about the design of the crossing in the wake of the crash. The New York Post later reported on how the planned third set of lights would have been built up to 200 feet back from the crossing, on a curving road leading up to the grade crossing. The report suggested officials were concerned about the visibility of the crossing before a woman stopped her car there causing a derailment.
If you are injured on a grade crossing or if you lose a loved one, the railroad may be liable, if the crossing is faulty or badly designed. Railroad companies or contractors can be held liable for a number of circumstances that can include, but are not limited to:
Faulty equipment such as lights or gates
Too much vegetation obscuring a proper view of oncoming trains
Poor track maintenance which may cause a car or truck to become stuck on the tracks
The conductor’s failure to sound a horn to warn of an approaching train.
If you have been involved in an accident on a grade crossing, you may have rights. Call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.