Florida Railroad Crossing Accidents Attorneys
There are over 250,000 railroad crossings in the United States that intersect with vehicles, and thousands of these crossings are located in Florida. The Federal Railroad Administration reports a sharp increase in railroad crossing collisions and fatalities in recent years, and according to the Florida Sun Sentinel, deaths are on the rise on Florida train tracks as well. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a railroad crossing accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Before you accept any type of settlement offer, it is important to speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney, so you can have your case reviewed and be advised of your rights and legal options.
At the Law Offices of Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, P.A., we have more than six decades of combined experience providing skilled representation for individuals injured in railroad crossing accidents, and all other types of personal injuries in the Florida Panhandle. Our attorneys have a successful track record handling even the most complex cases, and we routinely go up against well-funded adversaries, such as large corporations and their insurers.
We are skilled litigators and strong negotiators, and from the outset, we prepare each case with the expectation that it will end up in court. Whenever possible, we look to secure full and fair compensation for our clients without protracted litigation. However, if the other side is not willing to negotiate in good faith, we are ready and able to aggressively pursue full damages at trial and upon appeal.
What Causes Railroad Crossing Accidents?
There are numerous reasons train accidents may occur at railroad crossings. Some common causes include:
- No Warning Signals Installed: Many railroad crossings do not have warning signals, such as alarms, flashing lights, and crossing arms. This is especially true in rural areas, where budgetary concerns have inhibited the desire to upgrade these crossings. Without a warning signal, motorists sometimes do not realize that a train is coming until it is too late.
- Defective Warning Signals: A lot of railroad crossings now have warning signals installed, but these mechanisms need to be properly maintained. Otherwise, they might begin to malfunction and result in a deadly crash.
- Obstructed View of the Crossing: It is the responsibility of train track owners to maintain a line of sight around railroad crossings. Otherwise, motorists may not be able to see the crossing until they are right on top of it. Overgrown trees and other vegetation are the usual cause of obstructed views at railroad crossings. This may also be due to objects or debris placed on or near the tracks.
- Operator Error: Some railroad crossing accidents happen because of operator error and/or failure to operate the train in a safe manner. Common causes of operator error include speeding excessively/recklessly, texting and other distractions while operating the train, and operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Train Track Defects: Track owners are responsible for keeping the tracks maintained. Otherwise, tracks can become broken or defective, which can create a very dangerous situation. Broken and defective tracks are one of the leading causes of train derailments.
- Faulty/Defective Trains or Train Parts: A railroad crossing accident could happen because of a mechanical defect or a defective train or train component. For example, a train with a faulty brake line may be unable to stop in time to avoid a collision with a vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or object.
Who is Responsible for Railroad Crossing Accidents?
Train accident cases can be among the most complicated and difficult to pursue. This is largely due to the fact that there are several parties that could be responsible for the incident. Parties that could be at-fault for a railroad crossing accident may include:
- The Motorist, Bicyclist, or Pedestrian: Some people make very poor judgments when they encounter a railroad crossing. Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians who approach railroad tracks should NEVER try to outrun an oncoming train.
- The Train Owner/Operator: If a railroad crossing accident is caused by train operator error, the train company that employs the operator can be held responsible.
- The Owner of the Railroad Tracks: The track owner may be liable if they failed to maintain the tracks and/or maintain an unobstructed view of a railroad crossing.
- The Train Designer or Manufacturer: Designers and manufacturers of trains and train parts could be responsible for a train accident if the accident was caused by a part malfunction. The same could hold true for designers and manufacturers of defective warning signals.
- A Local Municipality: If an accident is caused by a failure to properly maintain the roadway leading up to the track, a county, city, or other government entity may be at fault.
Damages in Railroad Crossing Accident Cases
When an individual is injured in a train accident that was caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they deserve to be compensated. Injured parties may be entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic losses:
- Economic Losses: These are losses that can be quantified. Examples may include property damage (to a vehicle or other property), medical expenses (both current and future), lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity.
- Non-Economic Losses: These are losses suffered by the victim that are difficult to assign a dollar figure to. Examples include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, and loss of consortium.
In rare cases in which the behavior of the party responsible is determined to be especially egregious, the court may decide to award punitive damages. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim. Rather, they are designed to “punish” the wrongdoer and deter them (and others) from committing similarly egregious acts in the future.
Speak with a Skilled Florida Train Accidents Lawyer
Railroad crossing accidents can be some of the deadliest that occur on the roads, and those who survive often end up with severe and catastrophic injuries. At the Law Offices of Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, P.A., we understand that accident injury victims go through immense physical, emotional, and financial suffering, and we work hard to make the legal process smooth and seamless. We handle the entire process from A to Z, and we are always there to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have along the way. We also take all our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you never have to pay upfront attorney fees, you only pay if we recover compensation for you.
For a free consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate personal injury attorneys, contact us today at 850-500-1111 or send us a message through our online contact form.