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How Railroad Crossing Accidents Occur

Sadly trains hit motorists in cars and trucks all the time in Virginia.  The risk of being hit by a train if you are in a car is particularly scary when you think about the consequences. When you are involved in a railroad crossing accident that has occurred in Virginia, our attorneys could guide you throughout the claims process.

A train weighs millions of pounds and when it hits your car weighing 3,000 pounds or a truck weighing 8,000 pounds the train is going to win. The car or truck occupants often will be killed or severely injured in these wrecks.  There is some risk to the train crew of engineers and conductors in that sometimes a derailment can occur either because of the impact or because of the sudden braking in the emergency to try to avoid the collision.  The transportation crew of the railroad is often thrown around and injured but the psychological harm to them is often the worst knowing that they were just involved in a train wreck which killed somebody.

Who Is Typically At Fault in a Railroad Crossing Accident?

When a crossing accident occurs in Virginia, the railroad and often the local police will try to blame the motorist.  Certainly, it’s in the railroad’s interest to say that the railroad was not at fault and shouldn’t have to compensate the family of the victim.  They normally get out to the scene immediately with claims agents and attorneys and try to convince the police of the same thing.  If the motorist has been killed then they are not there to be able to tell their side of the story as to what happened. But often it’s not the fault of the actual train crew.  The train crew does have a responsibility to blow their whistles at the whistle posts and to operate the train at the legal and safe speeds.  However, these are not necessarily the main reasons that collisions happen.

How Railroad Companies Cause Accidents at Intersections

In my experience of more than 20 years of working in the railroad accident field, I have seen certain patterns of what railroads do wrong that cause these grade crossing accidents.  One thing the railroad has a responsibility to do is to cut down vegetation and sight obstructions which prevent the motorist from being able to see the train as they approach the crossing.

It’s so common that large stands of trees or overgrown vegetation make it so that the passing car has no real chance of seeing the train until it’s too late.  This is especially true for the fast-moving Amtrak trains running on CSX’s railroad lines in Virginia.  The Amtrak trains are going at 75 miles an hour.  They move so quickly that if there is only a limited amount of space after they come around the tree line that the motorist doesn’t have much of a chance.

The other thing that the railroads often do wrong that causes these accidents to occur is to not have the proper signage at the crossing.  For example, many crossings in Virginia are not equipped with stop signs even though they should have them.  There is no obligation for the motorist to stop at a train track unless he knows that the train is coming.  Sometimes stop signs are supposed to be there but are allowed to fall down and not get put back up as they should be.

The railroad has an obligation to keep the crossings safe.  However, sometimes it seems like they would just as soon pay when they have to for people injured at crossings rather than take the time and spend the money to fix the many public and private crossings throughout the state.

Contact a Virginia Attorney to Learn More about the Causes of Railroad Crossing Accidents

Determining how a railroad crossing accident occurred in Virginia is just one of the many challenges that our team could help you overcome. Cooper Hurley represents families who have lost a loved one through another party’s fault throughout the state certain parts of the county. We always put the best interests of our clients first. If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us or contact us through this website.

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