Who Is Considered Responsible For Train Collisions?

by Terry Bryant

Whenever train collisions occur, the results can be tragic. There is little that can stop a locomotive, and small passenger vehicles can be pushed for hundreds of yards by a locomotive before they come to a halt. Statistics say that a locomotive accident occurs nearly every three hours around the country. These cases are often marked by their complexity, as several parties may be considered responsible when an accident does occur.

The engineer and crew may share some of the liability if they fail to perform their duties as assigned. This includes sounding the whistle, paying attention to any dangers on the track, and maintaining a safe speed as they pass through a crossing.

Train collisions may also be the fault of a flawed locomotive design or build, including brakes or warning lights that do not engage correctly. This can mean the manufacturer or designer is at fault for the accident.

Several companies are responsible for maintaining the railroad tracks, and if an accident is caused by a flaw in the track, the maintenance company may be liable for any injuries. Finally, the city or municipality may own some liability if the road around the crossing is poorly maintained or organized.

On the other side, a vehicle driver has a responsibility to maneuver through the crossing safely. This includes observing warning sides and gates, approaching the crossing at safe speeds, and keeping their vehicle in good condition so that it doesn’t break down on the tracks.