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Truck vs. Train: No One Wins in Such Accidents

— March 28, 2022

Motor vehicle accident victims, or their families, can sue railroad companies for injuries, property damage, and fatality caused by their negligence. 

In October 2021, a dump truck crashed into a moving train carrying petroleum gas, resulting in fatal injury to the truck driver, and shutting down Route 51 from Jefferson Boulevard to Ridge Road near Pittsburgh for over 12 hours.  Jefferson Hills Law Enforcement reported that PennDOT needed to inspect the roadway before safe re-opening.  HAZMAT was on the scene as a precaution since the train was carrying flammable gas. A truck accident attorney in Pittsburgh can help build a case to determine fault after commercial carriers are involved in fatal accidents with trains.

Railway responsibility

Motor vehicle accident victims, or their families, can sue railroad companies for injuries, property damage, and fatality caused by their negligence.  Railroad companies, their employees and railroad equipment manufacturers owe passengers and bystanders a duty of reasonable care. Depending on the nature of the accident, one or more of the following parties may be responsible:

  • The railroad company,
  • The train operator,
  • The manufacturer of the train or train components,
  • A government entity that owns or operates the railroad.

Insurance and compensation

Blue dump truck; image by Mak, via
Blue dump truck; image by Mak, via

The state of Pennsylvania requires a motor vehicle operators to carry liability insurance to address damages when accidents occur.  Economic and non-economic damage awards are based on degrees of fault in the State of Pennsylvania and the 51% rule is utilized to determine how settlements will be determined.  This means that a person who incurs property damage, or bodily injury can be up to 50% responsible for an accident and still collect damages in a Pennsylvania personal injury claim. Federal laws cap damage compensation for single railway accidents, so it is best to secure legal counsel who can explain limits and the Pennsylvania “modified comparative negligence” rule will impact a case.  Because the driver of the truck should not have parked their vehicle and trailer on the railway line, the railroad company may be able to claim negligence for any damages to the train, or passengers.  

Seek legal counsel

A legal professional may help to mediate settlement amounts with insurance companies for damages caused by possible negligence on the part of a Pennsylvania driver, or railway company.  Sometimes litigation may be the only way to remedy any loss to a victim of a motor vehicle/train accident. Accidents involving commercial carriers are complex and often require involved research by legal professionals at Scanlon & Wojton Law Firm, including collecting and reviewing related train records, maintenance, and travel logs, along with certificates of health for drivers and other records, or police reports that can shed light on the cause of the accident. Accident victims should consult with an accident attorney to determine “fault” and actions toward a legal proceeding to address all property damages and physical injuries sustained.  


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