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Railroad Accidents FAQ's
What is railroad litigation law?
Railroad litigation law involves the representation of individuals who have been injured in a accident with a train or are injured upon railroad owned property.
Are there federal or state regulations governing the conduct of railroads?
There are numerous federal and state regulations governing the conduct of railroads, while at the same time creating some protection for railroads, even when they cause injuries to individuals. For example, workers’ compensation claims by railroad employees are covered under a separate federal law known as the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1907 (FELA). Contact Younce & Vtipil to learn more about North Carolina state or Federal laws governing railroads.
What are the most common causes of railroad accidents and derailments?
Railroad safety investigations have frequently found that derailments, train crashes and rail accidents were caused by negligence, rule violations, or other reckless conduct. Negligence by an individual employee, such as a train conductor, rail inspector or railroad maintenance mechanic may involve:
- Alcohol or illegal drug use
- Improper locomotive fuel tank integrity
- Hazardous chemicals or waste materials
- Defective highway rail & railroad crossings
- Poor train locomotive operating practices
- Inadequate signal interchanges
- Faulty train track or rail inspection
- Defective crossing signals
- Improper switching
- Failure to use horn
- Operator fatigue
- Excessive speed
- Sun Kinks
Should I take the settlement the railroad carriers' insurance company is offering me?
You should not take any settlements offered by an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced railroad litigation lawyer. Insurance companies typically offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you will not sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting Younce & Vtipil. Please contact us today to discuss your case.
Do I have to file an injury claim where the accident occurred?
You can file a railroad injury lawsuit at either the State or Federal level in any city where the railroad company conducts business, has tracks, or has a train destination. You are not required to file a claim in the same city where the railroad injury took place.
What damages can I seek in my railroad accident injury claim?
Plaintiff's who have been injured in a train collision may be entitled to any of the following compensations:
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for psychological damage
- Loss of past and future income
- Medical expenses
- Assistance for the future
- Loss of amenities of life
- Damage to your car or personal property
Should I hire an attorney to help me with my railroad injury claim?
If you think you, or someone you know might be the victim of a railroad injury in which the railroad company is responsible, it is essential to contact an attorney who is a railroad litigation expert. Seeking the aid of an attorney for your railroad injury will maximize the possibility that you can make a successful claim against your employer and recover the damages you have suffered. Contact Younce & Vtipil today.
What are the duties and responsibilities of a motorist when approaching a public grade crossing?
The general requirement is that a motorist approaching a grade crossing, upon detecting an oncoming train, must stop no less than 15 feet from the nearest rail and wait until the train has cleared the crossing. Cars must yield to oncoming trains at railroad/roadway crossings because trains have a superior right-of-way under the law. This rule usually serves as a baseline when determining responsibility for any accident or injury that occurs at a crossing. However, when a crossing is deemed extra-hazardous, the railroad owes a greater duty of care to protect crossing cars and pedestrians from the danger.
What are the duties and responsibilities of a train crew when approaching a public grade crossing?
Railroads have a duty to provide due and timely warning to the general public when their trains approach a crossing. By federal law, all trains must be equipped with (and have on) headlights and horns that produce a warning sound which meets a minimum loudness standard. State laws often specify that a horn must be sounded when approaching a crossing.
What responsibility does the railroad have regarding grade crossing protection?
The final decision on the level of grade crossing protection is made subject to federal approval. Therefore, railroads are not usually held liable on the issue of the adequacy of such protection. However, railroads typically install and maintain the protective devices selected. So, they can be found liable when a grade crossing accident is found to have been caused in part or completely from improper installation and/or maintenance of those devices.
Why are so many grade crossings inadequately equipped with flashing lights and/or gates?
The cost of a fully installed and operating set of flashing lights and crossing gates can run over $150,000 and that does not include the annual maintenance costs. By comparison, a crossbuck can be installed for around $1,000 with very little maintenance.
How often does a railroad crossing accident occur?
According to the Federal Highway Administration, a train strikes a vehicle or a pedestrian at a rail crossing approximately every 2 hours in the United States. These 12 daily incidents have the potential of producing catastrophic injuries and deaths. In addition, 96% of train accidents and injuries occur at rail crossings.
Should I hire an attorney if I’ve been injured in a railroad crossing collision?
Yes, immediately. If you were struck by a train at a railroad crossing where there were no signals or gates and you weren't able to see or hear the train coming in time to get out of the way, then you may be able to file a lawsuit. Alternatively, if there were crossing signals or gates that did not work, then you also may have a case. Contact Younce & Vtipil today to determine your rights.
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