Virginia Railroad Crash Highlights the Dangers of Grade Crossings
A crash involving a truck and a train on a grade crossing in Virginia has again highlighted the hazards of crossings in the Commonwealth, just days after multiple casualties were reported in an Amtrak wreck.
A tractor-trailer pulling a bulldozer was crossing the tracks at the intersection of Lee Highway and Seven Mile Ford in Chilhowie, Virginia on June 29 when it was hit by a freight train. No injuries were reported, according to Chilhowie Fire and EMS Department. News Channel 11 reported the tractor-trailer was stuck on the tracks before the incident.
Amtrak and Truck Collision in Missouri
The grade crossing accident occurred just three days after an accident between a truck and an Amtrak train in Missouri killed four and injured up to 150. A 9-year-old boy died from the severe injuries he sustained in the wreck days later in early July. The train hit a dump truck on the crossing and derailed.
Victims and their families have already filed the first lawsuits in the case. Janet Williams of Dubuque, Iowa, named Amtrak, BNSF Railway Co., and MS Contracting LLC, the employer of the truck driver whose vehicle was struck by the train in the federal claim, ABC News reported. The Kansas City Star reported Amtrak and BNSF Railway, the track operator, filed a federal lawsuit against MS Contracting claiming the train was clearly visible and the truck driver showed carelessness when he crossed the tracks. The trucker lost his life in the wreck.
Lack of Safety Features at Grade Crossings
Federal transportation safety officials criticized the grade crossing that lacked key safety features including signals, lights, or gates to warn of oncoming trains.
We expect many more lawsuits to follow this tragic crash. Our Virginia railroad accident lawyers have represented clients in railroad crossing lawsuits. They include people who suffered severe injuries in grade crossing crashes and the families of those who died in collisions with trains. We have represented passengers who suffered injuries from derailments.
Some of America’s worst railroad accidents occurred on grade crossings.
Grade Crossing and Amtrak Accidents
In 2015, six people died when a Metro-North train struck an SUV left on the tracks in Valhalla, New York. The driver moved onto tracks as crossing warnings sounded and the gates closed, according to investigators.
Six people died in a fiery Amtrak wreck in 2011 when a truck driver crossed the tracks and struck the train. The National Transportation Safety Board blamed inattention by the trucker and poor maintenance that affected the rig’s brakes, in a subsequent report.
Although many grade crossing accidents involve split-second decisions, vehicles occasionally get stuck on the tracks. In 2015, the driver of an oversized load encountered problems making a turn near Halifax, North Carolina, leaving the heavy vehicle stuck on a grade crossing where it was hit by an Amtrak train. Almost 60 passengers suffered injuries in the subsequent derailment.
Causes of Grade Crossings
While the actions of the driver and a North Carolina patrol officer on the scene were questioned, experts also raised concerns about the design of the crossing. A railroad may be held liable for poorly designed grade crossings, malfunctioning safety features, vegetation near the tracks that obscures visibility, and even an engineer’s failure to sound the horn or slow down on the approach to a grade crossing.
America has thousands of substandard crossings. Accidents involving trains are typically catastrophic. They cause severe injuries or deaths. However, train passengers or motorists who end up injured in grade crossing wrecks find themselves fighting big railroads with deep pockets and powerful teams of lawyers. It’s vital to hire an experienced railroad injury lawyer with a long history of successfully taking on the railroads or other parties such as trucking companies. Please contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers.