Railroad accidents in California happen more often than they should. This is because southern and northern california have more railways than almost any other part of the United States. These differ from transportation light rails like METRO and BART to heavy rail for transportation of goods. When trains come into contact with other vehicles such as at railroad crossings or other major intersections, there can be collisions which cause injury and death. It is important in these instances to retain the services of a quality personal injury and railway accident attorney to assist in the investigation of the incident to determine if the incident could have been caused by the negligence of the railway operator, conductor or other persons. The cause of these types of accidents are often difficult to pinpoint without a thorough investigation of all of the events the led up to the railway crash.
Common Causes of Railway Mishaps in California
Rail accidents happen in many ways but can include the following:
- Incidents were pedestrians or train patrons are hit or killed while at or near boarding and exit stations.
- Spill of hazardous materials which cause toxic exposure, fires or explosions.
- Collisions with trucks, cars and other motor vehicles at or near rail crossings.
- Braking failures which lead to smash ups with other trains including head on collisions.
California Laws Related to Areas In and Around Railroad Tracks
There are numerous provisions of the California Vehicle Code that pertain to vehicles and pedestrians actions in and around railways. These include the following:
- California Vehicle Code §22452 : Mandates that school buses and certain commercial vehicles including those transporting hazardous, flammable or explosive materials must come to a complete stop at least 15 feet to 50 feet from the crossing prior to traversing. In addition, CVC §15312.1 makes it a felony for any employer to require a commercial driver to violate railroad crossing laws.
- California Vehicle Code §22521: Prohibits any vehicle from parking or coming to a stop upon any railroad track or within 7 and 1/2 feet of the nearest rail.
- California Penal Code 369g: Makes it a misdemeanor crime to trespass on or near railroad tracks or propel a vehicle upon them without the express prior consent of railroad officials.
- California Vehicle Code §22526: Prohibits motor vehicles from crossing a railroad unless and until there is sufficient room on the other side of the tracks to accommodate the safe passage of a train, trolley or transit rail car.
- California Vehicle Code 22450: Requires every vehicle to stop at the designated, white limit line prior to crossing a railroad track.
- California Vehicle Code 21362: Requires the erection of warning signs on the right hand side of the road at a reasonable distance from a railroad crossing.
- California Vehicle Code 22352: Sets the “prima facie” speed limit within 100 feet of approaching a railroad crossing at 15 miles per hour.
Why Is It Important to Retain A Knowledgeable Railroad Accident Attorney Promptly
It is important to know that these various incidents can be caused by many different factors and it is crucial to have a California rail accident attorney retained as soon as possible after an incident. Experts should be hired by the lawyer to assist with the prompt investigation of these claims on behalf of injured persons or their families. This is really the only way that persons injured or killed by incidents occurring on or near railways can truly know who may be legally responsible for payment of money damages related to personal injury or wrongful death claims. Public entities like METRO, BART, Amtrak and others have teams of experts who work in conjunction with their lawyers after a major railway collision. Their main focus is to try to minimize any potential legal exposure. Likewise if a commercial driver causes a train wreck, their insurance carrier would immediately dispatch investigators to conduct scene inspections and do other testing for the purpose of minimizing insurance claim payouts. It is important to have your own legal and investigative team to determine liability and to protect your rights and the rights of your family members to full and complete compensation from any and all responsible parties or entities including the railway conductors, railroad operators, public entities, commercial carriers and individual drivers.