Railroad Accidents

Whether you are riding on a passenger train or simply crossing one of the many railroad tracks in California, you should be aware of the many railway-related injuries and deaths that occur every year across the county.

Here are some railroad accident statistics:
• Every 90 minutes there is a train derailment or collision.
• Every year approximately 1,000 people will die as a result of train accidents.
• On average a train derailment causes a chemical spill, leading up to evacuations of local residents two times every         month.
• The occurrence of train accidents steadily has been increasing since 1997.

Railroad accidents occur when two trains collide or when a train collides with a truck, bus or car at an intersection. The most common causes of train wrecks are:
• human error by the train company’s employees;
• electrical or mechanical failures; or
• track and roadbed maintenance problems.

If you or a loved one is involved in any type of train accident, you should move quickly to secure representation by an attorney. Your lawyer will need to identify all the responsible parties and file a claim against them before the statute of limitations expires. For example, if a government-owned railroad is at fault, the injured party may have to provide special notice of the claim to the railroad within a limited amount of time, sometimes as few as 30–60 days.

Railway travel is provided by companies who are considered in the eyes of the law to be common carriers. The law imposes on common carriers the duty to make sure that their cargo or passengers safely reach their destinations, and also holds them liable for injuries to a passenger that happens during transportation if the carrier could have prevented the accident by exercising greater care.

When a train accident injures the passengers onboard, the passengers may have a claim for negligence against the train operator and railway owner. When the owner or operator of the railway’s negligence caused the train accident passengers or their family members are able to collect money damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income. While the railroad company is responsible for maintaining the tracks and the train, drivers also have to follow laws governing crossing railroad tracks.

There are several California statutes directly related to railway companies and railway tracks. Some of these are listed below:

California Vehicle Code §22452: This law requires school buses and certain commercial vehicles including those transporting hazardous, flammable or explosive materials to come to a complete stop at least 15 feet to 50 feet from the crossing prior to traversing. In addition, CVC §15312.1 makes it a felony for any employer to require a commercial driver to violate railroad crossing laws.
California Vehicle Code §22521: This law prohibits any vehicle from parking or coming to a stop upon any railroad track or within 7 and 1/2 feet of the nearest rail.
California Penal Code §369: Makes it a misdemeanor crime to trespass on or near railroad tracks or propel a vehicle upon the tracks without the express prior consent of railroad officials.
California Vehicle Code §22526: Prohibits motor vehicles from crossing a railroad unless and until there is sufficient room on the other side of the tracks to accommodate the safe passage of a train.
California Vehicle Code 22450: Requires every vehicle to stop at the designated, white line prior to crossing a railroad track.
California Vehicle Code 21362: Requires warning signs on the right hand side of the road at a reasonable distance from a railroad crossing.
California Vehicle Code 22352: Sets the speed limit within 100 feet of approaching a railroad crossing at 15 miles per hour.

If you are involved in any type of train related accident it is important to have your own legal and investigative team working to determine liability and to protect your rights and the rights of your family members. You can be sure the railway companies do. If you or a loved one is involved in such a circumstance, please call us at the Boesch Law Group and let one of our experienced trial lawyers assist you.

 

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