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Many Wrecks Between Trucks and Trains Occur on Grade Crossings

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Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Many Wrecks Between Trucks and Trains Occur on Grade Crossings

Virginia and North Carolina have numerous railroad crossings. Although we often assume crossings have warning signs, gates and flashing lights, this is not always the case. I have seen some frighteningly inadequate crossings in cities such as Portsmouth and Norfolk as well as in rural areas.

Many of the high-profile train wrecks that have occurred in recent years have been on grade crossings. When a train hits a car, it’s an uneven scenario and the car is usually mangled. When a train hits a big rig, it often leads to derailments and even passenger injuries and deaths.

By law, you are legally required to yield the right-of-way to passing trains.  Truckers have not always complied and, on occasions, a railroad may also share culpability if visibility is poor at a crossing or the train doesn’t sound a horn.

In 2011, an Amtrak train crashed into a truck on a grade crossing in Nevada causing the loss of six lives, including that of the trucker.

Amtrak was subsequently awarded $4.7 million by a jury against John Davis Trucking Co.  The truck was found to have numerous problems with its brakes and the driver was inattentive.  He was trying to cross the tracks despite flashing lights and several warning whistles from the train.

A similar incident took place on March 9, 2015, in North Carolina when an oversized tractor-trailer failed to comply with crossing regulations set by the Department of Transportation. Weighing around 127 tons and measuring roughly 164 feet long, the tractor-trailer was roughly three times larger than a standard eighteen-wheeler. As it tried to cross the railroad tracks, the tractor trailer got stuck. An Amtrak passenger train going at 69 mph struck the stranded tractor trailer.  

Many passengers were severely injured and dozens were hospitalized. Fortunately, no fatalities were reported.

The Department of Transportation has guidelines on how to cross the railroad with an oversized load. The tractor-trailer failed to follow several safety prerequisites. A load that large requires special patrol escorting during transport, needs to clear the route it’s traveling through, and must contact the local railroad services warning them of the crossing. There was clearly a breakdown in communications before this crash.

Trucking cases usually require considerable work and may cross state lines. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, we have decades of experience in these complex cases. Please contact us at (757) 455-0077 if you or a loved one has been injured in a wreck caused by a trucker or if you have been hurt on a substandard grade crossing.


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John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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