Norfolk, VA Personal Injury Attorney Reports: Person or Vehicle Hit by Train at Crossing Every 3 Hours

An 88-year-old architect who failed to yield at a the Tide tracks on Second Street in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), hit a light-rail train and then left the scene on August 11, 2001 has been identified by police as Sheldon Leavitt. When asked by WTKR News Channel 3 why he didn't wait around, Leavitt said, "I didn't know what else to do."

That same week, another car accident occurred at the very same intersection, prompting railroad officials to install a more visible warning device. Fortunately, no serious injuries occurred in either wreck.

As a Virginia railroad accident attorney who often drives through Downtown Norfolk, I know that many light rail tracks occupy the same lanes as cars trucks, motorcycles and buses. Even with signals and traffic lights, drvers can easily get confused about when they can proceed and when they have to stop to allow trains to pass.

Norfolk Light Rail IntersectionWhat can you do to avoid being involed a light train crash? First, never expect a train to be able to stop, even if you feel you have the right away. Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety education group, says that, "About every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train." 

Here are some safety tips:

  • The train you see is closer and faster moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks. 
  • Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a train takes a long time to stop.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks and remember that the bodies of the rail cars are wider than the tracks.
  • If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping.

Train operators like Hampton Roads Tansit in Norfolk also have a responsibility to maintain rail crossings to prevent accidents. There are several authoritative sources that apply to this type of maintenance.

My colleagues and I have represented both motorists and crew members in cases involving railroad accidents, and we have an excellent understanding of how to investigate injuries and wrongful deaths at rail crossings.


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