Kentucky Train Accident Lawyer

There are thousands of accidents involving vehicles and trains each year.

If you have been the victim of one of these accidents, you’re probably seriously injured because of the energy a train brings to the collision. In rural areas, there is little or nothing to prevent a vehicle from crossing train tracks when an oncoming train is approaching. Vehicle accidents involving trains can be caused by grade crossings (where roads and rails intersect) that are poorly designed or maintained, making them more hazardous for drivers.

Kentucky train accidents happen every year.

There were about 12,000 collisions between trains and vehicles each year in the 1970s, according to Operation Lifesaver, a railroad industry organization. By 2016, according to federal statistics, the number of these accidents dropped to 2,025. Although that’s a big improvement, it still leaves about six of these accidents happening every day around the country.

When there’s a collision between a vehicle and a train, the vehicle stands little chance of remaining intact, unless there’s just a glancing blow.

Trains are massive, and even at a slow speed can pack a punch that can destroy a motor vehicle. It’s estimated that the force of a 30-car freight train hitting a car is about equal to the force of a person crushing an aluminum can. Because of their mass, trains can also take long distances to slow down or stop.

Operation Lifesaver reports that in 2016 Kentucky ranked as the 13th highest state in train and vehicle collisions at grade crossings. There were 47 such accidents, killing two people and injuring 17. The worst state was Texas, with 232 collisions, killing 22 and injuring 82.

Kentucky train accidents can be caused by defective grade crossings.

Most railroad accidents happened at grade crossings before changes were made in the 1990s to try to make them safer for vehicles and pedestrians. Often drivers would drive onto the tracks and be struck by trains the drivers didn’t see. Now more injuries and deaths happen when individuals cross railroad tracks where there are no crossings, but grade-crossing accidents are still a substantial danger to the driving public.

These are some of the dangers to vehicles passing through grade crossings:

  • In rural areas, there may be no stop bars to prevent vehicles from going across the tracks.
  • If there are hazard lights and gates, they may not work properly.
  • A road running parallel to railroad tracks but quickly turning and crossing the tracks doesn’t give a driver much of a chance to see a train until the last minute, if at all.
  • For a driver to have the best chance of seeing a train that’s in the crossing or approaching one, the crossing should be level with the road or at the same grade. If a road rises to accommodate the tracks, the driver’s line of sight is pointing upward, making it more difficult to see an oncoming train. If the road leading to a grade crossing is steeply inclined downward, a car could skid into the path of a train.
  • Over time, a grade crossing wears down and can become ragged and uneven if it’s not properly maintained. If this happens, a car going slowly over the tracks could get stuck.

Railroads need to take steps to prevent Kentucky train accidents.

Under state and federal laws, railroads are responsible for the upkeep of grade crossings. The federal Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 states, in part, “[R]ailroads are responsible for public, private, and pedestrian crossings.”

If a grade crossing is so steep that the driver can’t see an oncoming train, or if hazard lights and guards aren’t working properly or the crossing is in such bad shape a vehicle can get stuck on it, that crossing isn’t in “proper condition for the use of the traveling public” as required by law.

Railroads are also responsible for regularly inspecting their crossings, so ignorance of a problem isn’t a good excuse.

Over the years, Lexington attorney Julie Butcher has developed the knowledge and experience needed to help clients in the courtroom and with investigating accidents, negotiating with insurance companies and building injury cases so they can stand up in court. If you or a loved one has been involved in a vehicle accident of any type and you were not at fault, you need to know your rights and seek legal protection. You can bet the insurance company knows what to do to keep you from getting fair compensation.

We can help. Call Julie Butcher, the Lexington, KY, Vehicle Accident Lawyer at 859-233-3641, or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.