Railroad companies run trains throughout California. Some of these trains carry passengers while others strictly transport cargo. The tracks on which these trains travel often intersect with roads at railroad crossings. It is absolutely vital that motorists and pedestrians be made aware when a train is approaching a crossing. A serious or even fatal accident could easily occur if a driver or pedestrian unknowingly proceeds in front of a moving train.

There is a variety of signals that can alert others when trains are about to cross their paths at so-called “highway-railroad grade crossings.” All crossings are required to have warning and control devices. There are two basic categories of grade crossings; passive and active. Passive grade crossings employ only warning devices such as signs and pavement markings. Active grade crossings will have both the passive warning devices as well as active devices such as flashing lights, gates and bells.

The advent of such warning and control devices has been responsible for a marked decrease in the number of injuries and deaths caused by accidents involving trains and motor vehicles. And while this is good news for both the railroad companies as well as all road users, the fact is that most of these devices require routine maintenance to function properly.

Should a railroad company fail to repair malfunctioning bells, lights and gates, a motorist may not be aware a train is on the track as he or she approaches a grade crossing. Even a slow moving locomotive can destroy a passenger vehicle and seriously injure or perhaps even kill the vehicle’s occupants. This is why it must be of the highest priority for railroad companies to carry out regular inspections and repairs of warning and control devices.

Should you or a family member ever suffer serious harm in a car-train accident due to a railroad company’s negligence, you may greatly benefit from the services of a California personal injury attorney. The attorney could work toward getting you a settlement that provides you and your family with appropriate compensation for medical and other expenses.