Grade crossings are far more hazardous than many people believe. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, more than 2,000 crossing collisions were reported in 2016.
There were 265 deaths and 798 injuries reported last year on crossings. Although these figures are alarming, the number of deaths and injuries at grade crossings has decreased in recent years.
In 1981, 9,461 grade crossing collisions were reported. There were 728 deaths and 3,293 injuries reported that year.
In the vast majority of cases, those who are killed and injured in grade crossing accidents are drivers or passengers in the vehicle that was crossing the tracks.
However, in some tragic cases, a grade crossing collision causes a derailment and deaths and injuries to train passengers.
Six people were killed in a wreck on Metro-North Railroad in New York in 2015. Five of the casualties were passengers on a train the caught fire after hitting an SUV on the tracks.
The New York crash raised a number of safety concerns related to the design of the crossing and the extent of visibility.
If a grade crossing has poor visibility from a design defect or a failure by the railroad to cut down vegetation, the train operator may be liable for injuries or deaths. In other cases, crossing arms may malfunction, or a train may fail to sound its horn when approaching a crossing.
Often people who are injured in crossing wrecks don’t realize a railroad may be held liable. Very few lawyers in Virginia represent clients in crossing accidents. Find out more about railroad crossing negligence here or call us at (757) 455-0077.