Fortunately, collisions on railroad tracks are relatively rare in New Mexico, but they do happen. In 2021, for example, there were 75 railroad-crossing crashes in the state. That might seem like nothing compared to the 850 that happened in Texas and the over 7,000 that occurred across the country, but to the people involved in those 75 crashes, it is a very big deal. When fault for these crashes lies with the railroad and not the driver of the car that was hit, it is vital that the injured parties—or family members of someone who died in a crash—contact a New Mexico car accident attorney as soon as possible. We can help investigate the crash and hold the negligent party or parties responsible for compensating you for your losses.
How Railroad Company Negligence Causes Vehicle Crashes
There are at least a dozen different railroad companies that operate in New Mexico, including freight carriers such as the New Mexico Central Railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the BNSF Railway, and passenger carriers like Amtrak and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. At any point where train tracks cross a road, there is the potential for a disastrous crash. Sometimes, those crashes are caused by a reckless driver ignoring a crossing gate, but other times, it is the fault of the railroad. Given the supply chain issues faced by the entire country these days, mistakes among commercial transportation companies are on the rise. Examples of railroad negligence include
- Faulty safety equipment. When the flashing lights or mechanical gate at a railroad crossing malfunction, vehicle drivers have no warning that a train is approaching and could pull onto the tracks into the path of a speeding train. In this situation, the entity responsible for maintaining the gate could be held liable, as could the driver of the train if he did not react in a reasonable manner.
- Lack of safety equipment. Many rural railroad crossings lack safety gates entirely. Instead, there should be a stop sign requiring drivers to stop and look before crossing. If multiple incidents have occurred at a particular crossing, or the stop sign is missing, the railroad, city, or county responsible for the crossing could be held liable.
- Conductor negligence. If the operator of the train fails to perform his duty properly and crashes into a car, he and his employer could be held responsible. Train drivers might operate under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs, drive while fatigued, or simply be distracted from the tracks by a phone or another railroad employee.
- Mechanical failure. If a crash is the result of some failure of the mechanical or electrical systems of the train, multiple parties could be found to be negligent, including the manufacturer who made a defective part, the owner who failed to maintain the train, the operator who failed to inspect the train, and more.
Like crashes with commercial semi-trucks, train crashes can be difficult to investigate, and railroad companies can be very difficult to fight because they have teams of lawyers defending them. However, when a railroad crash victim has their own legal team fighting for them, their chances of a successful resolution are greatly increased. Your injuries could be catastrophic, and the amount of compensation you will need to recover as much as is medically possible will be significant. Our team has the resources to assess the current and projected cost of your recovery and to make sure you get what you need and deserve.
Damages Available in a Crash With a Train
If the railroad or other entity is found to be at fault in your crash, you could be awarded damages such as the following:
- Medical treatment. This includes emergency department care, hospital stays, surgeries, tests and scans, doctor visits, specialist visits, medications, and more.
- Lost wages. If you are unable to work because of the injuries you have suffered, you can also make a claim to recover your lost wages.
- Ongoing expenses. If you have sustained long-term injuries or have a permanent disability because of the crash, you might need years of medical care and rehabilitation.
- Non-economic losses. While money cannot relieve your trauma or take away your chronic pain, you might be entitled to pain and suffering damages.
Our experienced team will determine the maximum value of your claim and fight to get it for you.