Helpful Suggestions About What To Do If You Are In a Train/Car Accident

Remember the first 5-10 weeks after the accident are the most critical


Contact an attorney that is familiar with railway regulations and has previous experience dealing in railroad litigation. When considering hiring a lawyer to  represent you... ask specific questions to evaluate the lawyers experience with this type of case. Those questions should include: 
1) Number of railroad crossing cases they have handled and the results
2) Ask for references of other railroad crossing crash victims they have represented
3) What is their firms rating with Hubbell-Martindale Co. which rates lawyers nationally (AV highest) 
4) How will expenses be paid. Most law firms will pay expenses from your portion of a recovery. If there is no financial recovery, the firm is responsible for all expenses. 

Your attorney should immediately - Gather facts, line up expert witnesses (accident reconstructionists, auditory, lighting, signals, track and highway design, human factors, surveys, photography, etc.), conduct interviews with victims and eyewitnesses, and meet with investigators. They should immediately visit the site to get a better understanding of the scene, in addition to finding out the name of the railroad and who owns, controls, and has the right-of-way of the tracks, and also who owns the property abutting the tracks.

If injured, you should see a physician or surgeon and tell them exactly how the injury occurred, and describe all symptoms and complaints. Be sure to report memory problems, confusion or disorientation, however minor these symptoms may seem at the time.

Keep a diary of how the injury or death affects your life. Write down all medical related visits and everything that causes you physical pain, worry, frustration and grief. Obtain and keep receipts of all expenses relating to the collision.

You should immediately secure the vehicle. It should be stored in a safe, covered location to prevent tampering and weather damage.

You should immediately take pictures of the grade crossing to show what it looked like at the time of the collision being sure to include sight obstructions (trees, shrubs, buildings, other parked or stopped trains, etc.), advance warning devices or lack thereof, or anything else you feel contributed to the collision. Aerial photographs might be necessary to provide an overview of the site conditions. Photographs of all vehicles involved (before repairing) and any visible injuries (cuts, bruises) to the victim should also be taken.

Demand a report be filed with the police, sheriff or state highway patrol and request a copy of the report (keep in mind that the initial investigation may be performed by or in conjunction with the railroad's internal claims representatives or investigators since they usually arrive at the scene before local authorities). News reports of the collision may also be skewed toward the railroad since the first contact reporters have is generally with railroad investigators or claims agents. And it is important to realize, most state police academies and enforcement agencies throughout the country have had training courses in the area of railroad operations and equipment, elements of grade crossing collisions and investigation techniques after a collision that were developed by railroad police in cooperation with America's railroads.

Don't talk to anyone about the collision or sign anything without your attorney present. Don't allow yourself to be forced into making decisions you might not otherwise choose because you are grieving or in a state of shock. You should also consult an attorney before paying a ticket or appearing in court. Admissions made in traffic court could hurt you later.

Most important, stay close to family and friends who will give you the guidance and support you need or call someone who has been through a similar situation for their input.

Remember·every ninety minutes someone is involved in a train-on-motor collision in this country.. you are not alone

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