Injuries from trains generally fall into 3 categories:
- The crash of the train itself injuring the passengers;
- railroad crossing collisions with motor vehicles; and
- Occasionally, people are hit by trains when they attempt to walk across the tracks.
The question is always asked how when a train is such a big object can anybody not see it coming and avoid it. The answer is well known to experts in the field of human eyesight. The larger the object the slower it appears to be moving. If you’re at an airport and watch a small plane land versus a large 4 engine 747 you see that the smaller plane appears to be going much faster than the large plane.Yet they’re traveling at about the same speed. It is a phenomenon of eyesight.
If you stand at a railroad crossing and watch a train approaching traveling at 70 or more miles per hour it will appear to be approaching very slowly. It is only in the last seconds that it literally appears to explode in speed as it bears down on you. You may not have time to react.
It is because of the above reasons, that railroads and government entities have a high duty of care to make sure that any railroad crossing has proper lights, barriers, signals, bells and other safety devices to prevent collisions. Human stopping and looking alone will mislead people to believe they can cross in front of the train when in fact they cannot. If any of these devices fail or are not properly activated when the train approaches the crossing, the railroad is responsible for any injuries.
Many times the design of the safety devices at railroad crossings and their maintenance is the responsibility of various governmental agencies. Usually you must file a claim with that appropriate governmental agency within 6 months or your claim may be lost forever.
Also, railroad trains must adhere to various speed restrictions when in populated areas or other dangerous circumstances. Failure to do so will be negligence.
If you are a passenger on a train and are injured, the train had owed you the highest duty of care. Trains are what is known as common carriers and as such owe you the highest degree of care and safety. They may be held liable for injuries to and deaths of the passengers for even the slightest carelessness.
If you or a loved one are injured in a train crash or hit by a train, it is imperative that you contact an attorney skilled in this area immediately. Understanding and having experience in knowing the various laws, procedures and methods by which your rights may be protected in a train related injury is a special area of the law. For instance, in 1997 President Clinton signed into law limiting the amount of recoverable money in a train crash to $200 million. This may seem like a lot, but that’s all there is for the many people who may be injured or killed. Your lawyer needs to know how to work in that system.