Train tracks crisscross Northern Illinois. You may regularly drive through several railroad crossings on any given day. When railroad companies and train operators fail to take proper care, an ordinary railroad crossing can become a serious safety hazard. According to data published by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), nearly 6,000 car-train collisions are reported nationwide each year.
Sadly, railroad crossing accidents often cause devastating injuries or fatalities. They must be prevented. This raises an important question: When is a train operator liable for a railroad intersection collision? In this article, our Rockford auto accident attorneys explain the most important things you should know about railroad accident liability in Illinois.
Railroad Operators are Liable for Accidents Caused by Negligence
Train companies and railroad companies have a legal responsibility to operate in a safe manner. Each time a train crosses through an intersection, it creates an inherent risk to public safety. The risk must be accounted for and proper safety precautions must be followed. When railroad crossing accidents occur because of negligence, all responsible parties can be held liable. Some notable examples of railroad company negligence include:
- Missing or inadequate warnings signs;
- Broken or defective crossing lights/crossing gates;
- Train operator negligence, including speeding, distraction, and intoxication;
- Mechanical train failures, such as defective brakes; and
- Improper or dangerous conditions on the tracks.
Illinois is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. In effect, this means multiple parties may share liability for one accident. Even if you are found partially at fault for your own railroad crossing accident, you can still recover financial compensation.
All Railroad Crossing Collisions Require an In-Depth Investigation
The immediate aftermath of a train accident is overwhelmingly chaotic. First and foremost, injured victims need immediate medical attention. As these collisions tend to be serious, emergency care is often required. Next, the crash should be reported to state or local law enforcement. In accordance with federal law, the collision will also be reported to and investigated by the Federal Railroad Administration. Federal regulators may issue a report on the crash.
You should also consult with an experienced Illinois auto accident lawyer who can conduct an independent investigation on your behalf. Do not assume you are ineligible to bring a personal injury claim. Railroad crossing accidents often occur, at least in part, because of the careless or reckless conduct of the train company or the railroad. Your Illinois lawyer will gather and document all evidence you need to prove liability and recover financial compensation for your injuries.
Call Our Rockford, IL Car Accident Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Fisk & Monteleone Ltd., our Rockford auto accident attorneys are aggressive, results-driven advocates for victims and their loved ones. If you or someone you know was injured in a railroad crossing accident, we can help. To schedule a completely private, no cost case evaluation, please contact us at 815-962-0044. From our office in Rockford, we serve communities throughout Northern Illinois, including in Winnebago County and Boone County.