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For Minor Accidents Only
Print The Crossing Accident Checklist

This checklist was created for regional and short line railroads where there is not a professional claims person on staff. It is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of all things that should be done in the event of a crossing accident. However, it should provide a foundation for the legal defense of the railroad.

It is recommended that the client railroad utilize this list for minor accidents only. In accidents where the exposure could be high, it is recommended that the client railroad contact Railway Claim Services, Inc. as soon as possible to allow for a complete investigation.

___ Visit the scene of the accident.

___ Make a sketch of the crossing, placing all landmarks in their proper position with accurate measurements noted.

___ Make photos in the following manner:

(Assume an accident has occurred between a train traveling south and an automobile traveling west)

One photo at 15 feet from the east rail, as the auto would approach, looking north (in the direction from which the train approached).

Panoramic photos at 50 feet from the east rail, looking west to north (This typically takes 3-4 photos.)

Panoramic photos at 75 feet, 100 feet, 200 feet, 300 feet, etc. from the east rail. Photos should be made as far back as they are useful in demonstrating visibility of the crossing for the approaching motorist.

Single photos at 50 feet from the crossing looking north, south, east and west (Use east and west rails; the edge of road on each side to determine distances from the crossing.)

One photo of crossing surface conditions.

One photo of the advance warning disk. (Measurements should be noted on the sketch.)

Photos of any skids marks.

If the train has not been moved when the investigator arrives at the scene, photos should be taken of the train’s position.

Do not take photos of any victims, severed limbs, etc. These have no bearing as to the cause of the accident, and serve only to raise the emotional level of those involved. This could have a negative impact should there be a claim against the client railroad at a later date.

Take photos from all sides of all vehicles involved. Consider other photos including dirty or broken windshields, bald tires, high odometer readings, speedometer stuck at a speed, etc.

Photograph the locomotive, especially if there is physical evidence of the collision, or if a claim for damages against the motorist is anticipated.

___ Tape-recorded statements should be secured from all eye and/or ear witnesses.

___ It is recommended that the train crew complete Railway Claim Services, Inc.’s copyrighted crossing accident form (RCSI-02), which will serve to document the events as known to the train crew.

___ Secure a tape recorded statement from the driver of the vehicle and any passengers, if possible.

___ The signal maintainer should make a thorough check of all signal systems immediately after the accident. Documentation of this inspection, as well as reference to any previous inspections should be made.

The following should be made part of the investigation file:

___ A copy of the signal maintainer's records.

___ A copy of the consist.

___ Secure a copy of the current timetable.

___ Make a photo copy of the track profile page.

___ A copy of the police report.

___ A copy of any photos made by the police department or news.

___ A copy of the local paper should be secured. This serves two purposes. One, it documents the weather conditions at the time of the accident, and two, it demonstrates the publicity generated by the accident. It may also identify potential witnesses.

___ Canvass the neighborhood for witnesses. In all crossing accidents, a neighborhood search should be conducted to locate potential witnesses. This should be done as soon after the accident as possible and repeated at the approximate time of the accident the following day. Any statement by a witness should be tape-recorded.

___ Record the DOT number for future reporting.

There is no standard or routine grade crossing accident. Each accident presents its own unique set of circumstances. The preceding checklist should be used as a general guideline to provide a basis for the investigation. Contact RCSI as soon as possible following the accident for guidance and/or assistance.

In addition to the annual seminars, RCSI is available to conduct special one-day seminars at our clients’ request. These can be done at your location.
Please CONTACT US for details.