After Crash With Dump Truck at Crossing, Passenger Train Engineer Receives $564,000 Award for Disabling Back and Knee Injuries | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia railroad injury client was working as an engineer in a locomotive for a passenger train when a crash with a dump truck at a grade-level track crossing left her with serious injuries to one of her knees and her lower back. Those injuries later forced her to take a medical retirement.

The disabled railroad engineer subsequently filed claims with the trucking company that employed the truck driver for her medical bills, lost career earnings and disability. The trucking company refused to settle, however, claiming that our client did not do enough to avoid the collision. Evidence collected and presented by our Virginia railroad injury lawyer proved that the dump truck driver was to blame, and the former engineer received a $564,000 award.

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Key Legal Strategy

As noted, the trucking company tried very hard to sift blame to our client for causing the crash that injured and disabled her. Their first argument was that their dump truck driver never saw the approaching train.

Our Virginia railroad injury lawyer dismissed this as being completely beside the point. There were no obstructions along the tracks, so any problem the truck driver had in spotting the train as it neared the crossing rested with him.

The trucking company next proposed the theory that the gates meant to keep cars and trucks off the tracks failed to lower in time. An expert on railroad safety retained by our firm successfully demonstrated that the gates were in proper working order at the time of the crash and that any driver who had kept a proper lookout should have seen the barriers coming down and should have spotted the train approaching.

The trucking company further argued that the train engineer had failed to act decisively to avoid colliding with the dump truck. Instrument readings and other physical evidence, though, showed that our Virginia railroad injury client had engaged her train’s emergency brakes and that the train hit the truck while going just 15 mph.

A final fact that indicated that the dump truck driver caused the track crossing crash was his bailing from his vehicle. He had to have seen the train and have had time to realize that he would not be able to clear the intersection; otherwise, he would not have been able to escape.

Crewing trains exposes engineers and conductors to many risks for injuries. Negligent and reckless drivers who try to beat trains across track crossings are among the most-frequent dangers. As this case shows, the lives and physical well-being that impatient or heedless drivers threaten are not just their own.