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Railroad Accidents: Common Causes, Statistics and Prevention

In the United States alone, there are approximately 600 railroads, hundreds of thousands of miles of tracks, and over 209,000 railroad crossings. Although railroads are not used as often as they were in centuries past, they still remain quite active.

Unfortunately, serious and fatal accidents involving trains also remain active.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, in 2014 there were 11,896 train accidents at railroad crossings, resulting in 804 fatalities and thousands of injuries over the course of that year. There are a variety of reasons why these accidents occur—most of which take place at crossings when cars try to "beat" the train.

The common causes of train accidents are listed below:

  • Derailments
  • Mechanical failure
  • Human error
  • Distracted pedestrians
  • Problems with the track
  • Crashes with other trains and vehicles
  • Accidents at unprotected railroad crossings
  • Stalled cars on the track
  • Suicides

The details of a train accident must be analyzed thoroughly in order to determine fault and proper compensation. In the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, the Federal Railroad Administration is bestowed with the authority (and responsibility) to oversee and promote railway safety regulations.

Railroad companies and commuter rail lines have a legal obligation to maintain the highest level of safety for all passengers. Also, they are required to install a black box on all locomotives – a device that records information that may be very necessary to review in the event of an accident.

While the railway is responsible for safety, they may not always live up what they are supposed to do. However, it is not always the fault of the railway or conductor. There can be many factors involved in personal injury cases arising from a serious or deadly train accident, which is why it is vital to hire an attorney that is highly knowledgeable in railroad accident litigation.

Train Accident Prevention

While an experienced railroad accident lawyer can help guide you through the legal process of obtaining compensation for serious personal injury or the death of a loved one, of course it is best to avoid the need for an attorney in the first place. Here are tips on how to prevent these types of accidents from occurring:

  • Never assume a track is not in use.
  • Never, under any circumstances, stop on a railroad track.
  • Never enter a train tunnel or cross a trestle where you can get trapped without escape if a train enters.
  • Never drive around lowered gates. If it appears the gate is stuck, find another route or call the 1-800 number that is located at the crossing.
  • Never walk down or play on a train track.
  • Never try to race or beat a train.
  • Always look both ways before crossing a track.
  • Understand that trains are wider than the track they are on.
  • Lift your trailer jacks in the up position so your truck does not get stuck on track.
  • Realize it can take a train traveling 55 mph up to a mile to stop. They are unable to perform quick stops.

If you or one of your loved ones has been involved in a railroad accident at a crossing, a train collision or been injured as a railway employee, contact Tennessee personal injury law firm Gilreath & Associates to speak with a knowledgeable railroad accident attorney.

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Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
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