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Who could be at fault for a motorcycle crash at a railroad crossing?

Many people could potentially be held liable for causing an accident at a railroad crossing. These areas are inherently more dangerous than most intersections, particularly if the signals are not working properly or if objects obscure a rider’s view.

In most cases, the railroad company itself is to blame for causing an accident, especially if the crash was due to…

  • Equipment malfunction. Flashing lights and lowered gates are vital to protecting motor vehicle traffic from entering the path of an oncoming train. But defective gates can trap a car or motorcycle on the tracks, while gates that do not lower can fail to warn bikers of an approaching train. Gates that lower without warning or when no train is approaching can severely damage a rider’s head or chest, or can cause serious injures as the biker swerves off the roadway.
  • Poor track maintenance. Most motorcyclists know there’s a risk of their bike tires becoming caught on railway tracks or slipping on the slick surfaces of railway crossings. These hazards are among the many that face riders of two-wheeled vehicles, along with road debris, fallen branches, litter from passing pedestrians, loose rocks or gravel, and other objects. There can be obstructions on the edges of the tracks as well—such as overgrown hedges or tree limbs—that blocking the view of an oncoming train.
  • Employee negligence. Railroad employees have a duty to take proper precautions when approaching a crossing, including blowing the horn, slowing the engine, and calling ahead to make sure all crossings are clear. If a railroad employee did not take necessary preventive action to avoid a crash, you could hold his employer liable for the costs of your injury.

Much like commercial trucking fleets, railroad companies often employ expensive attorneys to protect their interests after accidents occur. If you do not have proper legal representation, railroad attorneys may succeed in denying your claim or significantly reducing the amount of your settlement. Learn more about getting the payment you are owed after a crash in our free guide, The Devil's Advocate: A Biker's Guide to Accidents & Injuries.

James Roswold
James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.

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