Railroad Grade Crossing Collisions – Who is at Fault?

by Jeffrey J. Kroll

There are over 200,000 railroad-grade crossings in the United States. While a train/motor vehicle collision may seem unlikely, these crashes are sadly too common in the United States.

Due to the extremely complex nature of the circumstances surrounding these train collisions, determination of fault requires a thorough understanding of the law and how railroads actually operate. Similarly, all aspects of the crash must be thoroughly and carefully investigated.  Railroads have a responsibility to maintain safe grade crossings and provide safe working conditions for crews. While railroad operations have to comply with certain Federal Railroad Administration Regulations, states often have their own rules and regulations regarding grade crossing and maintenance of crossings.  All of this can be a major factor in a collision.

Typically, there are two types of railroad crossings; active warning devices, with flashing lights and automatic gates at the crossing; or, an unguarded crossing consisting of pavement markings and other signage. Once a grade crossing is built by a railroad, it is the railroad’s responsibility to ensure that the grade crossing and the area around it are properly and safely maintained. For example:

  • Flashing lights must be working at the crossing;
  • Gate must be properly functioning at the crossing;
  • Signs must be visible due to weather or wear; and
  • Vegetation or other obstructions must be cleared.

If you or anyone you know has been injured in a railroad crossing accident, the railroad accident attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll understand railroads and the laws governing them in order to successfully navigate the complex conditions involved.  An experienced railroad accident attorney at Kaveny + Kroll will be familiar with the railroad’s tactics and maneuvering that may impact the outcome of your settlement or verdict.  For a free consultation, contact the railroad trial attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll at 312.761.5585.