More than 90 percent of all incidents on the railroad are accidents on railroad crossings, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
In many parts of rural Georgia, these crossings are unprotected. They lack flashing lights or swing-arm gates to warn approaching motorists of an approaching train.
Crashes occur with an alarming regularity on these crossings. In April, for example, two trains collided with tractor-trailers on Georgia grade crossings.
On crash was reported on Highway 42 and Bowden Road, near City Hall in downtown Locust Grove in Henry County. A TV station spoke to a woman near the crossing who said trucks get stuck in that same spot about once or twice a month.
Fortunately, truck drivers escaped from both crashes unharmed. However, grade crossings like this appear to be an accident waiting to happen.
The Federal Railway Administration estimates that each year, there are almost 3,000 railroad crossing accidents. About 300 of them are fatal.
The question of who is liable for accidents on railroad crossings depends on the circumstances of the wreck.
A car or truck driver may be liable for a crossing accident if he or she ignores flashing lights or fails to check for trains. However, lawsuits may also be brought against the railroad or even a local government.
In 2011, a truck hit an Amtrak train on a crossing in Nevada, killing six people and injuring many more. Lawsuits were filed against a trucking company claiming negligence on behalf of the truck driver for ignoring gates and warning signals. Brake failure was also alleged.
However, a local authority and Amtrak were also sued. The children of an Amtrak conductor killed the crash and three injured passengers filed lawsuits claiming the Nevada Department of Transportation failed to post warning signs on the road and the railroad companies used a defective rail crossing warning signal.
A train operator can be sued if a railroad crossing is badly maintained if lights or signals are defective if a train engineer fails to sound the horn when approaching a crossing or untended vegetation by the tracks has obscured the view from a crossing. The vast majority of railroad crossings in rural parts of Georgia have no flashing lights or barriers.
If you have been injured in a crossing accident, either as a driver or a passenger in a vehicle or as a train passenger or a crew member, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. Please contact the Law Office of Michael West today.