Last month, a 53-year-old man was killed in a Metro Rail transit accident. A spokesperson for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) told reporters that the accident happened around 8:30 PM at the Fountain Plaza Station in Downtown Buffalo.
The railroad stop was shut down for the remainder of the evening. A preliminary assessment indicated that the victim was attempting to cut between two railroad cars and fell onto the track as the train pulled away from the station. The incident is still under a more comprehensive investigation. The fatal accident is a tragic reminder of the risks that trains pose to pedestrians.
Pedestrian Railroad Safety in the United States: A Persistent Problem
When people think about train accidents, they usually conjure up images of railroad derailments in their mind. While train derailments are certainly a problem, they are actually not among the leading causes of serious train accident fatalities and deaths. Most people killed in train accidents were outside of the train, either in a motor vehicle or on foot.
Sadly, many pedestrians are severely injured or killed at or around railroad crossings every year. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) estimates that an average of 500 pedestrians were killed by trains in 2019 alone. Hundreds more pedestrians suffer catastrophic injuries in railroad accidents.
Public and Private Railroads Must Do More to Protect Pedestrian Safety
In far too many cases, railroad operators—both public and private—take the position that pedestrians are responsible for train accidents. Some of them go as far as arguing that a pedestrian who was walking on train tracks is trespassing—and is therefore automatically liable for their own accident. This is misleading. In reality, railroads can do a lot more to protect pedestrian safety. They must be held liable when they fail to do so. Among other things, public safety advocates recommend that train operators should:
- Build better fencing around high pedestrian traffic areas;
- Add more warning signs at or near crossing points;
- Put smart railroad crossing signals in place; and
- Construct additional pedestrian footbridges to allow safe crossing.
Every railroad accident requires an in-depth and thorough investigation from an experienced accident attorney. If your loved one was severely injured or killed in a pedestrian train accident, our Buffalo-based legal team is standing by, ready to help. We will determine exactly what happened and document any failure by the train operator. If the railroad’s negligence contributed to the accident, they must be held accountable.
Get Help From a Top-Rated Accident Attorney in Western New York
We are here to help. At Richmond Vona, LLC, our attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights of victims and their families. You need a strong, reliable legal advocate on your side. Contact our Buffalo office for a free, fully confidential initial consultation. We serve communities throughout Western New York, including in Erie County, Orleans County, Monroe County, and Niagara County.