A man in Athol, Idaho was recently killed when his pickup truck was struck by an Amtrak train. Idaho State law enforcement reports that the man's vehicle stopped on a railroad crossing. At the time of the accident, the man was alone. No one aboard the train was injured, but the train was damaged. Railroad crossing arms and signals were also damaged and workers temporarily directed motor vehicle operators.
Train accidents involving motor vehicles are not a common occurrence, but they are worth learning about because when they do occur, the consequences are most often deadly. Due to their great size and speed, trains move with substantial force. This means that when trains collide with motor vehicles, the accidents almost always result in extensive property damage as well as serious injuries or fatalities.
How Often do Car and Train Accidents Occur?
Although they do not occur at the same rate as more common types of accidents, train collisions involving cars are more common than you might think. The Federal Railroad Administration first began tracking accident statistics in 1981. That year there were 9,461 automobile/train collisions that resulted in 728 fatalities and 3,293 injuries.
Since this time, these numbers have slowly declined due to the introduction of safety precautions. For example, in 2015, there were 2,075 automobile/train collisions resulting in 233 fatalities and 1,032 injuries. To appreciate the danger of these accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports motor vehicle operators are 20 times more likely to die in crashes involving trains than collisions involving other types of vehicles.
Causes of Car v. Train Accidents
There are several common causes of collisions involving motor vehicles and trains. Some of the most common causes of these accidents include:
- Defective railroad tracks
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Mechanical failure in trains
- Motor vehicles that get stuck on the tracks at a train crossing
- Negligent conductors
Challenges in Train Accident Cases
There are numerous complex issues involved with obtaining compensation after railroad accidents. For one, the laws applying to the railroads are complex. Second, if a railroad company is liable for an accident, the company often has the ability to retain the best legal representation possible. In turn, these companies are often capable of creating strong strategies to pay out as little compensation as possible.
It is common for railroad companies to shift the blame to the victims through many strategies including arguing that victims were trespassing, intoxicated, or that tracks were vandalized rather than defective. To navigate these and many other complications, it is a wise idea to retain the assistance of a dedicated personal injury lawyer.
Speak with an Experienced Spokane Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one is injured in an accident with a train, our lawyers understand that you can be left facing numerous complications. Do not hesitate to contact West Law Office. During a free initial consultation, we will discuss your various options to pursue compensation.