Archive for the ‘Railroad Crossing Accidents’ Category

Mississippi Train Accident Lawyers Discuss Fatal Amtrak Collision That Reminds of the Dangers of Unsafe Rail Crossings

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

While passenger trains and commuter trains constitute one of the safest forms of travel, collisions between motor vehicles and trains usually result in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities for the occupant of a car, SUV, van, or pickup.  During a derailment accident caused by such a crash, the train passengers also frequently experience life-altering injuries.

A recent fatal train crash in Flora, Mississippi led to the death of a father, his 7-year-old daughter, and a 1-year-old son.  The train was headed to New Orleans after a stop in Jackson when it struck the vehicle.  The truck became lodged under the train before being ripped in two.  Media sources reported the Kearney Park fire chief indicated all three family members were killed on impact even though all vehicle occupants were properly buckled up or in age-appropriate child safety restraints.

Trains, railroads, and railyards are inherently dangerous, so thousands of railroad accidents cause hundreds of deaths each year.  When train companies fail to take adequate precautions to protect the public and employees, the result can be devastating injuries and fatalities.  Some of the most significant types of train accidents include:

  • Derailment of trains transporting hazardous or toxic substances
  • Crashes between motor vehicles and trains at unsafe railroad crossings
  • Train derailments or collisions
  • On-the-job injuries to railroad workers involved in accidents
  • Railroad employees exposed to toxic chemicals

If the railroad company does not implement appropriate measures to prevent these types of train accidents, the railroad company can be liable for failure to utilize appropriate equipment, safety training, or other forms of carelessness.  Typical examples of railroad negligence that frequently cause serious injury include:

  • Use of improper equipment on locomotive tracks or crossings
  • Failing to perform proper maintenance to keep train crossings and tracks safe
  • Lack of timely and regular inspections
  • Employees forced to work excessive hours resulting in fatigue-related accidents
  • Inadequate training of railroad employees
  • Failure to provide clear markings, warnings, or barriers at rail crossings

While train derailments and other railroad accidents can occur in many situations, train crossing accidents like the fatal train accident in Flora, MS constitute one of the most common types of deadly train accidents.  When overgrown vegetation or other hazards obstruct the view at a train crossing, motorists can make miscalculations regarding their safety at train-road intersections.  In other cases, the rail crossing gate or signal might be improperly installed, poorly maintained, or ambiguously marked, so that approaching motorists are not properly warned of the approaching train.  Laws require train conductors to sound whistles and reduce their speed to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians of an approaching train, and the failure to do so often causes horrific railroad crossing accidents.

While passengers often suffer serious injury in train accidents, railroad employees labor on a daily basis in one of the most dangerous of occupations.  The Federal Employer’ Liability Act (FELA) imposes a duty on railroad companies to protect their employees from unnecessary risks that could cause disabling injuries.

Common examples of train injuries include but are not limited to the following:

  • Vibration injuries (e.g. joints, spine, feet, ankles, etc.)
  • Physical injuries (e.g. amputations, lacerations, severe burns, broken bones, etc.)
  • Trip and fall and slip and fall accidents
  • Damage to hearing
  • Ballast injuries (e.g. spine, feet, legs, ankles, knees, etc.)
  • Toxic chemical exposure
  • Repetitive motion injuries (carpal tunnel)
  • Lung Cancer

If you have been injured in a Mississippi train accident, our Mississippi Train Accident Lawyers have successfully represented many train and railroad injury victims in obtaining compensation for their injuries.  At Barrett Law, we are here to help.  Contact our firm today at 800-707-9577 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.

 

Fatal Train Accident Provides a Grim Reminder of Dangers Posed by Mississippi Railroad Collisions

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

A head on collision this week between a freight train and another train in Oklahoma serves as a grim reminder of the devastating impact of train collisions.  Federal regulators are trying to determine why a freight train remained on the main line rather than pull off to a side track to avoid a collision.  There are three employees of Union Pacific Railroad that are unaccounted for after the horrific train crash who presumably died given that investigators reported that there was “no survivable space” in the locomotives in the wake of the train crash.  The impact of the collision between the locomotives caused a huge fireball to erupt from the diesel fuel causing the locomotives to literally be welded together by the heat.

The investigation is focused on the possibility that the conductor of the freight train was distracted because there is no indication that the railroad signal was malfunctioning or that there were problems with the train track.  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators plan to review records from the conductor’s mobile phone and the black box data recorders from the locomotives, which are similar to event data recorders on commercial airlines.  The NTSB has concluded that one of the trains clearly had right of way but the conductor did not divert the freight train to a side rail.

While train crashes may not be as common as those involving other modes of transportation like passenger cars, SUVs, motorcycles and tractor-trailers, they often result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities when they occur.  There are thousands of collisions involving trains and motor vehicles every year caused by the negligent operation of trains, defective switches or signals and poorly maintained track or railroad crossing signals.  When trains result in serious injuries or fatalities to motor vehicle occupants or pedestrians, the railroad company may be liable for failure to exercise reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable train crashes.  Some of the common factors that cause train accidents in Mississippi include:

  • Failure of brakes, switches and crossing warning systems because of poor maintenance
  • Defective crossing signals and barriers
  • Distraction of train conductors and others
  • Improper speed on curves or near rail crossing

If you or a family member suffers severe injuries or a loved one dies in a railroad accident, our dedicated and compassionate Mississippi train accident attorneys may be able to represent you in seeking financial compensation. At Barrett Law, our experienced Mississippi personal injury lawyers represent injury victims throughout Mississippi.  Our law firm has roots that reach back 75 years so contact us today for your free initial consultation at (662) 834-2376 to see how we can help.

 

Fight Over Implementation of Safety Improvements Designed to Prevent Train Crashes

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

While train collisions may not be the most common type of transportation accident, they can be horrific when they occur.  A devastating train crash in Southern California in 2008 resulted in 25 fatalities and injuries to another 125 people.  Similarly, South Carolina was the location of a railroad crash in 2005 in which a tanker transporting Chlorine was damaged causing the toxic chemical to be released.  Residents in the vicinity (5,400 people) had to be evacuated.  The crash also killed nine people and resulted in injury to 554 people.  What these railroad accidents have in common is that they were caused by human error – they were preventable.

In the wake of the California train crash, Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act.  The law imposed a requirement that the rail industry install crash avoidance systems that override manual operation in the event of human error to avoid train accidents.  The technology referred to as Positive Train Control (PTC) can override manual operation and apply the brakes to a train to avoid a railway collision.  The Rail Safety Improvement Act imposed a requirement that PTC technology be added to 70,000 miles of train tracks by the end of 2015.  The railway tracks subject to the legislation are those used to transport passengers and/or toxic chemicals.

PTC technology operates by utilizing wireless communication, GPS and control centers to track the position and speed of trains.  The system can apply the brakes to a train when it detects an imminent train crash.  PTC can also prevent train derailments and prevent trains from entering the wrong track.

Some legislators in Congress have introduced a bill to roll back the requirement of the PTC as part of a larger anti-regulation campaign.  The bill would postpone the date of compliance until 2020 at the earliest and reduce the amount of track covered by as much as twenty percent.  Those who oppose the implementation of the Rail Safety Improvement Act argue that the cost is too high given the relative safety of trains and that the technology is still not ready for use.  Critics of current PTC technology argue that the technology can prevent head-on train crashes and side impact crashes but cannot prevent all rear-end train crashes.

However, the National Transportation Safety Board has identified twenty additional train accidents since 2001 that would have been prevented had PTC technology been in place.  Based on this data, PTC technology would have saved 53 lives and prevented almost a thousand injuries on top of preventing the California and South Carolina train accidents.

While it is still too early to tell what will happen, the reality is that train collisions typically result in serious injury and even wrongful death.  If you or someone you love has been injured or a loved one has died in a Mississippi train crash, the experienced Mississippi train crash accident attorneys at Barrett Law may be able to help you obtain the financial compensation to move past your tragedy.   The experienced Mississippi train accident attorneys at Barrett Law have been providing effective representation to Mississippi railroad accident victims for over 75 years.  We provide diligent legal representation and impassioned advocacy so we invite you to call us today at 662-834-2376 to learn how we can help.

 

Serious Dangers of Mississippi Railroad Crossing Accidents in Mississippi

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Railroad crossing accidents are typically massive in scope and result in horrific injuries and wrongful death.  While sometimes these dangerous train accidents occur because of risky behavior by drivers trying to outrun the train, these dangerous railroad accidents may also be caused by the inattention or negligence of the train operator, a poorly marked railroad crossing or inadequate maintenance of the train or crossing.  When these accidents occur, the physical injuries can be devastating.  The warning systems for trains are often inadequate because they fail to account for limitations in human visual perception or because the warning systems are not functioning properly.

Our law firm uses railroad inspectors, train safety experts and other expert witnesses to investigate the cause of a train accident.  A common cause of train crossing accidents is poor maintenance of the railway crossing warning system.  Our investigative team carefully investigates railroad crossing accidents to determine if crossing arms, warning lights, and switches that activate the warning when a train approaches were functioning correctly.  A railroad company has an obligation to provide adequate maintenance to keep these critical warnings operating correctly.

This obligation of a railroad to properly maintain the warning system at a crossing is magnified by limits in human visual perception.  When drivers approach a train crossing, limitations to human perception make it easy for drivers to miscalculate the potential danger of a train accident.  Visual perception is distorted when drivers attempt to judge the speed of a train approaching a train crossing.  We also tend to misjudge speed based on the size of a moving object.  The bigger an object the slower it appears to move.  This problem is also compounded by a phenomenon known as object familiarity.  When assessing speed of strange objects, humans associate the speed with the speed of familiar objects.  Thus, there is a natural tendency of drivers to misjudge train speed as being comparable to a passenger vehicle.

The warning systems themselves even when functioning correctly are also inadequate.  The flashing lights used are much less bright than those used in traffic lights at roadway intersections.  The reason for the weaker lights is simply because the lights were designed to operate on battery backup in the event of an electrical outage.  The lights are also relatively small and when covered with the red cover the brightness of the light is reduced substantially.  This lack of visibility of the warning lights is further obscured by bright sunlight.  The bottom line is that even when operating perfectly the design of railroad crossing warning signs leave much to be desired.

All of these limitations in human perception explain why drivers are dependent on functioning train crossing warnings as opposed to simply observing an approaching train.  The other factor that can compensate for limitations on human speed perception at train crossings is an adequately trained and attentive engineer.  If the train engineer is distracted, such as using a cell phone to text or talk, he or she may not be able to stop the train or sound a warning to those in approaching vehicles.  Intoxication or driver distraction by an engineer at a railroad crossing can result in fatal railroad crossing accidents.

If a driver of a motor vehicle is struck by a train at a Mississippi railroad crossing there is an extremely high risk of catastrophic injury or wrongful death.  At the Barrett Law Office, we represent those who suffer personal injury in serious accidents throughout Mississippi.  A Mississippi railroad accident attorney from our firm may be able to review your case and provide a candid assessment of your prospects so call us today at (662) 834-2376.