Train Crossing Accidents

With more miles of tracks traversing in more directions than any other city, Chicago has the largest and most important rail hub in the nation. Along with its extensive railway network, comes the accompanying risk of injury or death at railroad crossings. Train Crossing Accidents can be distinguished from other types of collisions in terms of the extent of injury sustained, the reasons for how and why they occur, as well as the complexity in legal issues surrounding the right to seek compensation, to name a few. The Chicago Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer represent the victims of railroad crossing accidents involving commuter, passenger, and freight trains that travel interstate and intrastate routes in Illinois, including Amtrak, Metra, as well as CTA’s ‘L’ Line.

The sheer size and weight alone, greatly limit a train’s ability to react in sufficient time to avoid collision upon encountering an obstruction in its pathway, even when traveling at a relatively low speed. In fact, at 50 mph, it takes an average freight train a little over a mile to come to a complete stop. The traveling-speed to stopping-distance ratio of a train, of course, is dependent on the point at which the person operating the train discovers the obstruction, and more importantly, takes action. Far too often, persons or vehicles obstructing rail tracks are either not discovered or discovered too late in order to avoid collision.

When a train strikes a car, pedestrian, or bicyclist at a crossing, the outcome can be devastating. According to statistics, automobile occupants are 40x more likely to die in a train crash than in a collision with another motor vehicle. For persons not protected by a vehicle, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, or railway workers, the risk of fatality due to being struck by a train, is much greater. For those fortunate enough to survive the accident, the injuries sustained can be life-altering, often resulting in permanent harm. Victims may suffer loss of limb, disfigurement, partial or full paralysis, head trauma, internal injuries, significant scaring, as well as serious emotional trauma.

Train passengers can also be harmed due to railway crossing accidents. The unexpected change in movement and intense shaking that occurs when a train comes to an abrupt stop, can cause passengers and unsecured items to be thrown about the cabin. Victims may suffer lacerations, contusions, broken bones, back and neck injuries, head trauma, and even death. In more serious crashes, the impact of a collision can result in partial or full train derailment, as well as fire(s) or explosion(s).

A variety of reasons have been identified as to why train crossing accidents occur. In many cases, formal investigations conducted following a crash reveals negligence on the part of the railway, a third party, or a combination of both. Some common examples of railroad negligence at train crossings include:

  • Improperly functioning automatic warning devices due to:
    • Installation
    • Maintenance
    • Defect
  • Failure to sound warning horn
  • Missing or obscured warning signs
  • Defective design of railroad grade crossings

Often time, train crash investigations, especially those considered relatively minor, are performed too quickly, or in an improper or hasty manner, usually out of necessity of getting the train back up and running. Further, railroad companies will typically go to work quickly to repair or correct issues at train crossings that may have caused the crash. For these reasons, it is important to meet with a train accident lawyer as soon as possible following an accident to ensure that any evidence relevant to your case is collected and properly preserved.

If you were injured, or a loved one was killed due to an incident or crash involving a train, the Chicago Train Crossing Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. urge you to contact us to discuss whether you may be entitled to compensation. We offer free personal injury case evaluations, and never charge a fee unless we obtain financial recovery on your behalf.

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