Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

When Railway Crossings Go Wrong

Can a truck accident lawyer help if you get into an accident at a railway crossing? Trucks, semi-trailers, and passenger vehicles don't stand a chance when they meet a train while crossing the tracks. Basic physics comes into play and the train's larger mass, momentum, and structural composition win every time. While train/vehicle collisions have declined over the years, railway crossings continue to pose a deadly threat to motorists across the country. Nationwide, there are more than 212,000 railway crossings. Roughly 25% of these have no protection, which means the potential for fatal collisions is an always present danger for many motorists.

In 1981, there were 9,461 collisions that caused 728 fatalities and 3,293 injuries. Since then, train and vehicle collisions have declined steadily. With the exception of 1984, 1988, 1994, 2000, 2004, 2010, 2011, and 2014, each year has seen a decrease over the previous year. In 2016, there were 2,205 collisions that caused 265 casualties and 798 injuries. This is close to 20% of the annual number of fatalities recorded less than 40 years ago. As of 2016, there were roughly 16.38 accidents per million miles of train travel. Over the past decade, this rate has fluctuated from a high of 17.71 in 2007 to a low of 15.32 in 2012.

Roughly 75% of these accidents occurred less than 25 miles from the driver's home. This means the vast majority of these accidents occur on roadways that motorists are familiar with and cross regularly. When a motorist is involved in a train/vehicle collision, they are 20 times more likely to suffer a fatality than if they were involved in a crash with another vehicle.

96% of all train accidents including derailments occur at railway crossings. When accidents occur a truck accident lawyer can pursue damages against the party(ies) liable for the accident. A railroad company can be liable when they fail to properly train engineers or conductors in the safe operation of the train, or if the engineer or conductor operates the train while fatigued or under the influence of drugs/alcohol. They can also be held liable for poor maintenance which leads to a crash.

A truck accident lawyer can hold the company that owns and manages the track liable for improper track maintenance, improper signage, and failing to maintain gates and lights at crossings. Similarly, the manufacturer of a train can be held liable for system failures such as lights, whistle, horns, bells, headlights, braking systems, etc. that fail and lead to a crash.

Brad Pistotnik is a truck accident lawyer who represents clients in Topeka, Wichita, Lawrence, Olathe, Salina, and cities throughout Kansas, Illinois, and Nebraska who are involved in train/vehicle accidents. Motorists injured in collisions and survivors of those who are killed have the right to pursue compensation for the negligent actions of train operators, track operators, and train or vehicle manufacturers whose defects or negligent actions cause collisions.

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