How are railroad accidents categorized and reported?

Almost any accident involving a train has the potential to cause serious injuries and tremendous damage. When an incident involving a train occurs, it is important that the event be reported to the proper authorities. As such, the Federal Railroad Administration requires railroads to submit what are called Incident/Accident reports to inform the commission of any notable events as part of the railroad's monthly report.

So what sorts of events inspire inclusion in an Incident/Accident report? Railroads must report all incidents, including derailments and collisions that involve on-track equipment and cause damage above a certain threshold.

When reporting an incident, railroad accidents are broken down into these three broad categorizations:

  • Highway-rail grade crossing incidents. These are events that involve impacts occurring between rail and highway users that take place at designated crossing sites. Highway users may be motor vehicles or individuals who are engaged in activities in areas, such as sidewalks and walkways, that are in some manner connected to crossings.
  • Train accidents. This category encompasses safety-related incidents involving on-track railroad equipment that was either stationary or in motion and caused damage to track and rail equipment in excess of a certain dollar amount.
  • Other incidents. These are incidents of injury, occupational illness or death suffered by railroad workers that did not result from any of the aforementioned categories.

The information contained in Incident/Accident reports may also be used by attorneys to help their clients when investigating train accidents. Train accidents can be responsible for causing serious or fatal injuries. Should you or a family member be involved in a collision with a train, a California personal injury attorney may be able to help you get compensation for your expenses and suffering.


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