West Plains Railroad Accident Lawyer

Over 60 Years of Combined Legal Experience

There are well over 200,000 railroad crossings where railroad tracks cross over public and private roads in the United States. In fact, railroad crossings exist in all 49 continental states. There were over 2,000 accidents at those crossings resulting in 261 deaths and over 810 serious injuries in 2010. While many of those accidents were caused by the operator of a passenger car or truck who was attempting to cross the tracks, some of those accidents were due to negligence on the part of the railroad or those entrusted with the operation of the train.

Some basic statistics of railroad crossing accidents include the following:

  • A typical train may be 7,000 feet in length and weigh 3,200 tons;
  • It can take a train a mile or more to stop at typical train speeds;
  • Approximately every two hours a collision occurs in the U.S. between a train and a vehicle or pedestrian – that's 12 accidents a day;
  • You are 20 times more likely to die in a collision with a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.

Investigating Railroad Crossing Accidents

When a railroad crossing accident occurs, the railroad officials know about it immediately and immediately commence an intense investigation to prove that the accident was not their fault – even if it was. Law enforcement officials such as the highway patrol and police officers are also called to scene to conduct a very limited investigation. Generally, the extent of the investigation by law enforcement officials includes hardly more than talking to those operating the train, talking with the driver and occupants of the passenger vehicle if they are able, talking with any eye witnesses who may remain at the scene and measuring the distance that the train traveled beyond the intersection until it came to a stop.

While most all modern trains are equipped with a video camera on the front of the locomotive which will capture the entire accident, the law enforcement officials will not view that evidence nor the data recorded by the on-board computer which will provide the speed of the train, the throttle position, when the brakes were applied, when the whistle was sounded and other information vital to a determination as to whether or not those operating the train were negligent and causing or allowing the collision to occur. Likewise, the local law enforcement officials generally conduct no investigation to determine whether or not the railroad right-of-way was free of obstruction, the sight distance available to the motorist or whether the whistle post was in place 80 rods ahead of the crossing to alert the operator of the train to sound the whistle as required by statute.

Determining Cause

Simply put, there is no way to make an accurate determination regarding the fault for a railroad grade crossing accident without a thorough investigation. Most every victim and the family of every victim involved in a railroad crossing accident wants to know the cause in order to decide whether or not legal action is appropriate and, equally important, to bring closure to the tragedy. Unless the victim, or family of the victim, has the financial means to retain experts of the field and the knowledge to go about securing evidence such as the train video and on-board recorder, the only way usually possible to make these determinations is through the services of a law firm with the experience and resources necessary to investigate the occurrence.

Some of the questions and steps necessary to determine the cause of the accident include the following:

  • Did the crossing have active warning devices such as gates and lights and, if so, were those devices working properly at the time of the accident;
  • Was there a whistle post located at 80 rods;
  • Did the engineer sound his horn or whistle at 80 rods as required by law;
  • Were there people in the vicinity who could verify whether or not the horn or whistle was sounded at 80 rods;
  • Did the engineer apply his brakes in order to avoid the collision and give the motorist time to clear the crossing;
  • What does the on-board recorder show as to the sounding of the whistle and application of the brakes;
  • What does the video cam show with regard to the accident;
  • Were the tracks and right-of-way free from obstruction as required by law or were there obstructions effecting the sight distance of the motorist;
  • Did the locomotive have its headlights on if the accident occurred after dark?

Talk to a West Plains, MO railroad accident attorney today!

If you believe that the accident may have occurred due to negligence in whole or part by the railroad and its crew, time may be of the essence and it is important that you contact a qualified and experienced West Plains, MO personal injury lawyer to conduct a timely investigation of the case.

Contact Henry & Williams, P.C. as soon as possible to schedule a f ree consultation at 888-505-5606!

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