Train Accident Tragedy: Dangerous Road & Railway Crossing Made Safer by Litigation
Many times dangerous conditions or negligent conduct are not changed until someone is injured and a lawsuit is filed.
As part of a continuing series of articles on the Lewitt Hackman Personal Injury Blog, Lewitt Hackman attorneys will identify dangerous conditions or conduct from cases they have handled in the past, and how the conditions or conduct was changed as a result of the lawsuit. Below is such a case.
A Dangerous Road & Railway Crossing
Our client was on the way home from work to have dinner with his wife, as he had done for the past 25 years. He traveled west down an old road that he had driven many times before.
As he traveled, he approached a railroad crossing from the east. When he approached the railroad crossing, another driver approached the crossing from the west. The intersection where the tracks cross the road is an “S” curve, with the railroad tracks in the middle of the “S.” Unfortunately, there were no edge lines, lane lines, botts dots, or other signs guiding drivers through the intersection to safely follow the curve and stay in their own lane.
The other driver, based on all accounts, failed to identify and negotiate the “S” curve and his car crossed into our client’s lane and struck his car head on. Our client’s car was stopped on the tracks, and severely damaged.
Shortly after the collision, the signals started going off and the crossing arms came down – a train was coming. Despite a severely fractured leg, our client exited his vehicle through his window. Tragically, he was not able to completely escape and he was killed when the train plowed into him and his car. He was survived by a wonderful wife, and three great adult children.
When hired by his family, our office immediately investigated the scene of the accident. During that investigation, we determined that the accident was mostly caused by the dangerous condition of the railroad crossing. It was difficult for a driver to discern the curve, causing the driver to cross over into the other lane of traffic. Because this was not a heavily travelled area, there were no reports of other significant accidents.
You can see a photo of the railroad crossing shot from a plane we hired to fly above and take photographs immediately after the accident in the image above. As you can see there are no lane lines guiding drivers through the crossing.
A short time after the accident, the City painted lane lines as shown in this follow-up photograph, below right.
As can be seen from the photographs, just the painting of the lane lines makes the curve significantly safer – and possibly would have prevented this tragic accident.
As part of our case, we hired traffic engineers to prepare renderings of what a safe crossing should look like, with additional lines and warning signs before and throughout the curve. After our case was settled, the City essentially made all of the changes suggested by our engineers.
As with every case we handle, we attempt to obtain a fair recovery to compensate our clients for the injuries suffered as the result of another’s negligence. Equally important, is that our efforts result in dangerous conditions or conduct being changed so similar accidents do not happen again. We achieved both goals in this case.