In New York, commuting by train is part of the fabric of everyday life. Many take it for granted that our transportation system has safely integrated train travel into our highway and road grid.
The truth is, though, that while railroad grade-crossing accidents are on a downward trend nationally, they are on the rise for our top three commuter-train lines, according to a recent news release by Assemblymember Tom Abinanti, D-Greenburgh/Mt. Pleasant.
New rail-crossing safety bills
Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a railroad crossing safety bill that kicks off a study by the New York State Department of Transportation to evaluate safety issues at level-grade railroad crossings. By April, the NYSDOT must provide a report to the governor and state legislators that includes possible measures that could make such crossings safer for the public.
This bill is a reaction to the tragic February 2015 rail-crossing accident in Valhalla that was widely covered in state media. In that crash, a Metro-North commuter train struck an SUV at a controversial crossing, killing the driver and five train passengers. The SUV driver's husband has tirelessly advocated for safer New York rail crossings since the crash.
In the news release, state Senator David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester, describes the rail infrastructure in New York as crumbling and contributing to potentially fatal grade-crossing accidents. The senator says there are more than 5,300 railway crossings in the state.
A companion bill also approved by the governor will require that a number of specific railway-safety measures be taken. For example, at least every other year, railroad companies, municipalities and relevant state agencies must inspect traffic-control devices at grade crossings.
Seek legal advice for railway-crossing accident injury
It is important to act swiftly to protect your rights because some lawsuits have notice requirements and strict deadlines, and because it will be important for your lawyer to launch a private investigation into the matter while memories and evidence are still fresh.
Such suits can be complicated because potentially responsible parties may include governmental units like municipalities or agencies that could have contributed to negligent maintenance or design that could contribute to such accidents. Complex legal issues are often involved when any governmental body or employee is sued.
Others who may have potential liability in such collisions include drivers, train personnel and companies. If you or a family member is injured in this type of accident, please schedule a free consult to discuss what happened with a personal injury attorney at Weisfuse & Weisfuse.