Railroad Crossing Accident Attorneys in Biloxi
The number of highway-rail grade crossings in the US is as high as 250,000. Almost all the railroad accidents in the country (96%) occur on these dangerous intersections. The risk of fatality for automobile drivers is nearly 30 times higher when they are involved in a train accident than a car accident, according to the US DOT. Each year more 3,000 collisions between trains and vehicles take place in the country, resulting in catastrophic injuries and deaths.
However, the laws related to railroad crossing accident liability can be complex. If you have been involved in this type of accident, you need a trusted Mississippi attorney with experience in railroad crossing accident cases. Our lawyers at Gardner Law Firm have the knowledge and expertise to pursue a personal injury case on your behalf against large railroad companies and government agencies and hold them liable for their negligence.
What Causes Railroad Crossing Crashes?
Some of the key causes of accidents on railroad crossings in Mississippi include:
Absence of a Warning Signal
Railroad crossings sometimes may not have a warning signal installed (such as flashing lights, alarms, or crossing arms). In some of the rural and other areas, financial constraints of the government agencies may lead to the failure to upgrade the railroad crossing. In absence of a warning signal, a car driver may not be able to notice an oncoming train until it is too late.
Defective or Ill-Maintained Warning Signals
Merely installing a warning signal at the railroad crossing is not sufficient. Periodic inspections and regular maintenance are necessary to ensure safety of the people. Sometimes the warning signal may be faulty at the time of installation or may start malfunctioning later. If the problem is not fixed, it can lead to a catastrophic railroad crossing accident.
Crossing View is Obstructed
Train track owners and managers have a responsibility to maintain a proper line of sight around the railroad crossing. If this is not done, a vehicle driver may fail to notice the cross until they are too close to it. Overgrown vegetation and trees are typical causes of view obstruction at the crossings, but sometimes debris or objects placed close to the tracks may also obstruct the crossing view.
In some cases, the negligence of the operator or their failure to follow safe practices while operating the train may lead to a railroad crossing crash. Reckless operating, speeding, operating in an intoxicated condition, and texting while operating, are some of the common causes of operator negligence in railroad crossing accidents.
Defective Tracks or Trains
Maintaining the tracks in safe condition is the track owner’s responsibility. Defective or damaged tracks can create dangerous conditions near the railroad crossings and lead to train derailment. Faulty train parts or a mechanical defect in the train may sometimes contribute to a railroad crossing crash. For instance, if the brake line is faulty, the train may not stop in time and collide with an automobile, pedestrian, or object.
Passive vs. Protected Crossings
More than 62,500 railroad crossings in the country do not have gates or lights to protect vehicle drivers. According to the NTSB data, nearly six out of 10 railroad crossing fatalities take place at passive or unprotected crossings.
A crossing that merely has a railroad crossing signage is known as a passive crossing. On the other hand, a protected crossing would have warning devices installed, such as gates and lights. Clearly, the risk of accidents and injuries is much higher at passive railroad crossings.
Liability in a Car Crash at a Passive Crossing
When a car driver suffers injuries in a railroad crossing accident at a passive or unprotected crossing, it may be possible to hold multiple parties liable. These may include:
The Train Company
The train driver has the responsibility to operate the train safely. The train company may be held liable for the driver’s negligent actions. In some cases, the train company may have been directly negligent if it hired a driver with a poor past record of performance, or it failed to provide appropriate training to the driver and other crew members.
The Manufacturing Company
If the train or track design was faulty, or there was a manufacturing defect in the mechanical or electrical systems of the train, the manufacturer could be liable for your injuries. Train components that are often prone to manufacturing failures include brake systems, warning lights, warning whistles, and coupling mechanisms.
The Railroad Track Owner
The railroad company that owns and operates the train tracks may have the liability for your injuries. Maintaining the tracks is not the responsibility of the train company. The railroad track owner is responsible for maintaining track safety, performing repairs and inspections, removing obstructions, and installing and maintaining gates and lights.
The City or County
If your railroad crossing accident occurred because of a faulty or poorly maintained roadway, the city or county responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held liable. Multiple parties are often responsible for railroad crossing accidents, and you can obtain maximum compensation when full liability of all responsible parties is established.
Issues to be Investigated in a Railroad Crossing Accident
Our Mississippi railroad crossing lawyers at Gardner Law Firm will thoroughly investigate your railroad crossing accident claim in order to establish strong evidence. The issues we will focus on may include:
- Was the view in the crossing area obstructed or could the train operator and the car driver see each other?
- Was there a traffic signal tied in with the railroad crossing in order to reduce the risk of crash?
- Were the crossing’s warning systems functioning properly?
- Was the crossing gate functioning?
- How was the lighting and visibility near the railroad crossing?
- What is the train operator’s and the railroad company’s track record?
- What is the possibility of distracted driving, drunk driving or speeding on part of the train operator?
- What do the training, repair, maintenance and inspection records of the train company and the railroad company indicate?
Legal Help from an Astute and Seasoned Railroad Crossing Accident Lawyer
Railroad crossing crashes in Mississippi can result in catastrophic injuries or even death of the victims. At Gardner Law Firm, our skilled lawyers understand how these accidents can disrupt and devastate your life. We will work hard to ensure that you recover the best possible financial damages from the at-fault parties so that you can move on in life.
Let us evaluate your personal injury claim and we will build a robust legal strategy based on the facts and circumstances of your case. Set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys today by calling at 228-436-6555.