Who is Liable for Railroad Tracks that Cause Damage?

Who is Liable for Railroad Tracks that Cause Damage?

by / Monday, 20 December 2021 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Railroad Tracks.

Here in the state of Michigan, it’s very common for cars to be damaged by conditions of roadways. Very commonly, the main culprit is potholes. Every year, there are reports of cars being damaged by large potholes that come along with the freeze/thaw cycles that inevitably come every year. But another thing that can potentially damage cars is a poorly maintained railroad crossing. 

Who is Liable for Car Damage at Railroad Crossings?

If your car is damaged by poorly maintained railroad crossings, or if someone is injured as a result of that poor maintenance, it’s a very good idea to contact a lawyer to help determine liability and for further help with making a claim for damages. Figuring out who, exactly, is responsible for maintenance at railroad crossings isn’t always straightforward. 

Under guidelines from the Federal Railroad Administration, railroad owners are responsible for doing routine inspections and maintenance of the tracks that they own and their active warning devices. This means that even if the road leading up to a railroad crossing is maintained by an organization like MDOT or a county, they may not necessarily be responsible for maintaining the  railroad tracks, the area immediately surrounding the tracks, or the crossing signals. 

According to MDOT, railroads are responsible for maintenance on surfaces that extend from the middle of the rails to one foot beyond the end of the ties. They also state that conditions of the crossing surface should be comparable to the condition of the surrounding roadway while road authorities are responsible for the remainder. 

How to Report Unsafe Railroad Crossings

If you find a railroad crossing that has poor crossing-surface conditions that make it unsafe to cross, you’ll need to report it to the railroad. Near the crossing, you should see a blue rectangular sign that features a phone number to call in case of emergencies or to report problems. This sign will also include the crossing number, which will help the railroad identify the specific location of the problem. In addition to problems with crossing surface conditions, you should also call this number if you see other problems that need to be addressed, such as a malfunctioning warning device, a blocked crossing, or problems that limit visibility. 

Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

Liability for car accidents isn’t always a clear-cut matter. If you’ve been injured in a crash, it’s extremely important to contact a car accident lawyer who can help make sure your case is handled correctly from the very beginning. A lawyer will be able to help figure out who, exactly, needs to be held accountable, preventing delays later in the process. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer experienced in handling a wide range of motor vehicle accident cases in the state of Michigan. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Image: Kari Shea / Unsplash

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