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Car Wrecks At Railroad Crossings

When a collision involving a train and a motor vehicle occurs, the train always gets the better end of the situation.  On average a train weighs around 3,200 tons, whereas an automobile averages about two tons—many are even lighter than that considering that statistics for average vehicle weights are influenced by commercial vehicles as well.  Trains do not have the ability to attempt to dodge an accident, and will typically cover a distance of over a mile from the point where the brakes are first applied.  In the United States, the majority of urban rail crossings are equipped with pavement markers, warning lights, and in many cases crossing gates, but the vast majority of collisions between a train and a car are listed in accident reports as being caused by the automobile’s driver attempting to drive around the safety barricades and make it across the crossing before the train gets to it.  This commonly held assumption makes it appear that cases involving an accident between a car and a train should be unwinnable by the driver.

Reports Of Misconduct

In the last few years, numerous cases of railroad companies tampering with evidence in cases involving collisions between trains and cars have been reported.  The practices that have been documented in these reports, committed by several different major railroad companies, go well past the point where a reasonable person could believe they were due to a misunderstanding and fall firmly into the realm of blatantly illegal behavior, including concealing or destroying evidence that railroad safety devices were negligently maintained, and known problems were overlooked or ignored.

Due to the fact that a train does not have the capability of stopping quickly, accepted standards of care (the minimum actions required to not be considered negligent) for inspecting and servicing the safety equipment installed at railroad crossings must be extremely high.  These safety devices are the only effective thing railroad companies can do themselves to prevent collisions at railroad crossings, and if patterns of negligent behavior were discovered on the part of individual companies or the industry as a whole, it would rapidly become highly problematic for the attorneys employed by the industry to defend claims arising from railroad crossing accidents to effectively show in a court of law that collisions were more likely than not caused by actions on the part of the car’s driver.  The damages this would entail would rapidly become financially disastrous to the rail industry.

Accident Statistics

Federal studies, often cited by representatives of the railroad industry, almost exclusively place the blame for collisions at railroad crossings on drivers: “risky driver behavior or poor judgment” is listed as the cause of the collision in 87% of accident reports.  What is often not brought up is that the data for these studies is almost exclusively derived from internal accident reports written by the railroad companies themselves, making their conclusions suspect at best.

Contact Us for Help

Regardless of popular misconception, not all collisions at railroad crossings are caused by driver error, and a mounting body of evidence is making it clear that negligence on the part of the railroad industry has been to blame for these wrecks more often than the public has been aware of.  If you have lost a loved one in a collision at a railroad crossing, contact the experienced legal team at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A., by telephone at 305-371-3111 or online today to discuss your situation.

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