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How Often Are People Hit by Trains (and What Can We Do About It)?

How Often Are People Hit by Trains (and What Can We Do About It)?

Railroads have a rich history in our Nation, signifying the arrival of affluence and growth around the country. Now, mass transit is a major part of being able to successfully navigate the City and save on time and cost in our hustle-and-bustle society. Train trips are no longer saved for relaxing getaways—they are just a normal part of an everyday commute for thousands of New Yorkers.

But although trains are safe for the most part, when a train vs. pedestrian accident does happen, the injuries can be catastrophic. Due to the size and speed of a train, and the time it takes for it to brake, the chances of a person surviving a train collision without major injuries are borderline miraculous. And although we would hope these incidents are rare, statistics show that pedestrian collisions are actually on the rise.

Just last year, multiple people were killed after being struck by trains. In November 2017, a 21-year-old woman died after being hit by a commuter train in Norfolk. The month before that, a man was killed in New Jersey after being hit by an NJ transit train. Part of the problem lies in the hands of the rail companies, which have not properly educated the public or improved warning systems. Then there are the random instances where pedestrians make bad judgment calls, like the case where a Colorado woman fell asleep on train tracks with her headphones in, and failed to hear the coming train that rolled over her. Astoundingly, the woman was unharmed.

According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, there were 1,080 pedestrian rail trespass casualties in 2016. In 2017, there were 16 deaths and 22 injuries in New York from pedestrians on train tracks.

Pedestrian Train Safety

It’s very important to follow railroad rules to avoid being seriously injured or killed by a train. Here are some basic safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Only cross train tracks at designated areas. Crossing anywhere else is not only illegal, but can be deadly.
  • A train can’t stop as fast as a car can. It can take a full mile or more for a train to come to a full stop. So even if an engineer sees you, he probably will not be able to stop the train in time to avoid hitting you.
  • Do not stand near train tracks; the train overhangs the tracks by a few feet or more. If you are too close you may get hit.
  • Do not cross the tracks right after a train passes by. There might be a second train coming right after from either direction. Wait until you have a clear field of vision.
  • Do not rely on a train schedule to guide you on when you can cross. Remember, trains do not always follow set schedules. Just keep in mind anytime you’re near train tracks, a train might be on its way.
  • If you see flashing red lights, that’s your signal that a train is approaching from either direction. Do not cross the tracks until the lights stop flashing. Trespassing during a flashing train signal can lead to a fine.
  • Do not try to jump aboard railroad equipment, as just one wrong move can result in losing a limb or even your life.

Who’s at Fault When a Train Hits a Pedestrian?

When it comes to pedestrian/train accidents, the blame is at times unfairly thrown at pedestrians. However, it’s not always the fault of the pedestrian. Rail system safety technology hasn’t been updated in years, and most rail companies rely on technology developed over 70 years ago. In a train accident claim, there are a few ways that a lawsuit can be won. For example, if you can prove that the train engineer was operating the train in a negligent manner; or that the property where the accident took place was unreasonably dangerous; or that the railroad company was aware that people frequently cross at the location of the accident but didn’t take the necessary steps to protect pedestrians.

Even if you are partly at fault, it doesn’t mean others aren’t responsible as well. Sometimes there are two parties that share the blame. New York’s contributory negligence law states, “In any action to recover damages for personal injury, injury to property, or wrongful death, the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or to the decedent, including contributory negligence or assumption of risk, shall not bar recovery, but the amount of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant or decedent bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.”

To put it in simple terms, in some states, contributory negligence means that you can’t collect damages in a lawsuit if you’re partially at fault. New York is NOT one of those states. You can sue any person or entity that was responsible for the accident. This includes the railroad company, vehicles involved in the accident, or anyone else who played a part in your injury.

Contact The Case Handler Attorneys at PPID

If you or someone in your family has been injured in a rail-related incident—like the Long Island train crash—we are here to help you. A railroad incident can leave you with medical bills for a lifetime. Don’t just assume the incident was your fault. Let us determine if the railroad company was in any way liable or negligent.

Speak to our dedicated New York vehicle accident lawyers at Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP so we can thoroughly investigate your claim as soon as possible. Call us at 929-223-4195 today for a free consultation.


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Adam Handler Esq.

Since 2004, I have been obtaining justice for accident victims by making sure they receive full compensation for their injury, medical bills and loss of income. To date, the total recovery for my clients has been over $100 million dollars. The law provides for a one-time recovery in personal injury actions making your choice of personal…

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Matthew Goodstein Esq.

I have been fighting for the rights of victims since 2008, whether it be for the rights of those injured in accidents, those injured in workplace accidents, or crime victims.  I believe that the best resolutions come from attorneys that are invested in their clients – and that is the type of relationship that The…

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