The seven-fatality railroad crossing accident in Valhalla, New York, has potentially uncovered fundamental safety flaws in the Metro-North Railroad.
The accident occurred when a car stopped on the rails of a crossing during rush hour traffic. The train collided with the vehicle, killing the motorist and six train passengers. Dozens more were seriously injured.
The gate crossing at Commerce Street is notorious for providing only a brief warning before the train reaches the road. Further, the crossing is situated near a curve in the railroad so motorists have limited sight of an approaching train.
Another unsettling aspect of the accident is that the vehicle’s explosion caused the third rail to dislodge and enter the train car. Investigators are trying to determine how this happened. It is possible that a design oversight allowed that to be possible.
At least 30 railroad crossing accidents have occurred on the Metro-North Railroad since 2003, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Injured passengers and families of the deceased may be able to recover money damages after railway accidents. It can be difficult to prove negligence, however, as railroad companies have teams of attorneys working to avoid liability for injuries. In accidents where the railroad company does admit fault, it will likely attempt to minimize payouts and undervalue the harm suffered by victims.