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What Happens After a Collision between a Car and Train

October 23, 2013

One of the most frightening accidents that can occur is the impact of a train traveling at a high rate of speed and a motor vehicle; even a low to moderate rate of speed may result in injuries as well as extensive property damage.  Although changes in railroad crossings to include more safety features have decreased train-car collisions by ninety-six percent (96%) since 1985, there are still accidents that result in devastating injuries and death.

According to the U.S. Board of Transportation, there were nearly 5,000 fatalities between 2005 and 2010 resulting from approximately 30,400 train accidents, which include car and train collisions.  Although many of these vehicle-involved accidents were caused by the operators of motor vehicles who negligently crossed railroad tracks, others were caused by conductor error, track or roadway imperfections, or improperly maintained train crossings.

As one would expect, the more miles of track and intersections with roadways, the higher the number of accidents that occur each year.  The top ten states for accidents between trains and motor vehicles are: Texas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina.

There are many factors that need to be considered if you or a loved one has been involved in a collision between a train and vehicle.  Railroad companies, private corporations, and municipalities have a duty to maintain railroad crossings in order to keep drivers safe from collision.  These safety measures can include:

  • Crossing gates.  These devices prevent passage across the tracks when a train is approaching the intersection. Accident reports show that these gates have a greater safety effect on drivers on private property while they are less effective at a public crossing.  This likely is caused by driver impatience and the fact that people focused on getting to a specific destination will ignore the potential danger and drive around gates, often resulting in tragic consequences.
  • Maintaining the area around crossings to provide a clear line of vision.  Vehicles are less likely to attempt to beat a train if they have a clear view of how close the train is and how fast it is moving. Obstructions including trees, shrubs, and man-made objects may interfere with the line of sight and lead to a collision.
  • Regular inspections.  Many problems would be discovered before an accident resulted if the entity responsible for the crossing would make routine inspections that led to the identification and execution of necessary repairs.

There are several things to keep in mind if you are involved in an accident involving a train:

  • Seek immediate medical attention.  It is important to get care as quickly as possible.  Often, injuries present over an extended period of time and delaying care can lead to increased harm.
  •  Consult with an attorney without delay so that they can arrange, if appropriate, for investigation into the accident scene as soon as possible.  The accident site will be exposed to the elements and evidence will not be preserved.  Obtaining as much information from the scene close to the time of the collision will provide valuable evidence if the case proceeds to trial.  Your attorney can also Get in contact with the law enforcement personnel in charge of the investigation.  These individuals will be valuable sources of information, collecting evidence and reconstructing the incident.  It is important to have access to all of their notes and data.
  • Make sure you comply with all legal time deadlines so that you do not loose any rights to compensation.  This is another important reason to retain a knowlegeable and experienced law firm.  

Although trains have the right of way at crossings and motorists have an obligation to avoid crossing tracks improperly, there are many times wherein the train or train company is totally or partially responsible for the accident.  It is important to consult with an experienced attorney if a train-car collision has affected your life or the life of someone you love.  

Our experienced and knowledgable Georgia auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available for a free consultation to discuss your case. We will help you understand all of the legal rights afforded to you under Georgia law. We represent accident victims throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

For over 38 years, the experienced Personal Injury Lawyers from Montlick & Associates have been helping families in Georgia and throughout the Southeast.  Montlick & Associates concentrates its practice on personal injury law, providing caring and high quality legal representation. The firm was recently honored by the Georgia House of Representatives for its 30 years of service, with the passing of House Resolution 394, recognizing Montlick & Associates for "the outstanding accomplishments of this distinguished firm," and "for providing efficient, effective and dedicated services to the citizens of Georgia."

Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.