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Illinois Train Grade Crossing Accidents

Casey Woodruff

railroad crossingAll motor vehicle accidents have the potential to turn deadly, but accidents involving trains are much more likely to be serious. According to statistics compiled by the Federal Railroad Administration, hundreds of people each year are killed in grade crossing accidents, accidents occurring at a point where a railway and a road intersect. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency estimates that car-train collisions are 20 times more likely to result in a fatality than ordinary motor vehicle collisions because of the increased mass of the train, and the resulting increase in damage.

What Grade Crossing Accidents Are

Grade crossing accidents are collisions between a train and a car that occur at an intersection between an ordinary roadway and a set of railroad tracks. The name of this type of accident comes from the fact that the tracks cross the roadway at a level grade, making it more difficult for drivers to see these sorts of crossings before they get close. As a result, warning signs and road markers are placed at these sorts of intersections. Additionally, some grade crossings are marked by active warning devices such as crossing gates, bells, and flashing lights. Trains themselves also warn drivers of their approach, using their warning whistles to signal their presence.

Despite these many signals, grade crossing accidents do still occur. Some of them are the result of errors on the driver’s part. Many drivers attempt to go around crossing guards and beat the train, sometimes with tragic results. However, even careful drivers can find themselves involved in a grade crossing collision as a result of the railroad’s negligence. When that sort of negligence occurs, the injured victims may be able to hold the railroad accountable for the carelessness of it or its employees.

Grade Crossing Accident Liability

The idea behind grade crossing accident liability stems from the legal concept of negligence. Railroads have a duty to take care and not to injure passing motorists. If they breach that duty through some sort of careless act, and that breach results in harm to a motorist, then they can be held responsible. Examples of those sorts of breaches of care include many different things. For instance, poor maintenance may be to blame. It can lead to a broken crossing gate that fails to warn of an approaching train, or it can result in overgrowth across warning signs that the drivers cannot see. It can also be operator error on behalf of the train’s engineer, such as failing to sound the whistle or driving too fast for the area that the train is in. It can even be a design flaw in the crossing itself, such as a failure to post adequate warning signs.

Accidents between trains and cars can be devastating, leading to serious injury or even death. Fortunately, the law provides victims a way to find justice for the harm they suffered by making sure the railroad takes responsibility for the harm that it caused. If you or a loved one has been injured in a grade crossing accident, contact a Naperville train accident attorney at Woodruff Johnson & Evans today.

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