Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Train accidents at railroad crossings killed 200 last year

Most people don't anticipate being involved in an accident with a train. While the percentage of persons in Tennessee and nationally who do encounter train accidents may be small, over 200 people were killed nationwide at railroad crossings last year. Of course, hundreds of passengers on trains also die or suffer serious injury from train accidents nationwide each year.

Recently, a man had a nightmarish scare at a railroad crossing in Springfield. The man was driving his pickup truck over a crossing when the truck stalled on the tracks. He narrowly escaped injury from an oncoming train by jumping out of the truck and moving to safety just before the train crashed into the truck.

In this case, the driver entered the tracks just as the red lights began flashing, but before the arm came down. Due to the vehicle stalling, the arm then came down on the truck and the man realized that he would have to "abandon ship" to save himself. Police cited the truck driver for allegedly failing to stop at a train intersection. If the man had been injured in the incident, he may not have been eligible to collect compensatory damages from the train company due to the fact that he may have negligently entered the intersection when the lights were already flashing.

However, even in that situation, the train conductor has a duty to be traveling at a slower speed near crossings, and to be keeping a lookout ahead. The train operators would be bound to try and stop to avoid the accident under Tennessee law, and their own negligence would be indicated if they were far enough away to spot the man and stop in time to avoid the collision. Like any other accident, the principles of negligence will govern whether victims of train accidents can recover for their injuries.

Source: smokeybarn.com, "When Do You Stop? What's The law?", Feb. 1, 2016

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