Level-crossing injury compensation claims
In the following guide we set out what you should know about making a successful level crossing accident compensation claim.
There are approximately 8,000 level crossings in Great Britain, the majority of which are managed by Network Rail. 330 "near miss" incidents involving cars, cyclists and pedestrians occurred on level crossings in 2014. Collisions involving trains were less common but far more dangerous, accounting for 50 percent of catastrophic incidents on British railways.
Most incidents are road accidents, occurring when a driver crosses the railway line when it is not safe to do so. Some incidents are a result of mechanical failure such the early warning system failing to operate properly or barriers not coming down in time for the driver to stop.
Anyone who has been injured in a level crossing accident that was not their fault may be eligible to make a compensation claim. Where the accident involves a fatality, immediate family members may be able to bring a claim for compensation.
If you have suffered a level-crossing injury in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.
Network Rail is responsible for operating and maintaining all the level crossings on the mainline rail network in the UK. They also have a duty to make the level crossing as safe as possible, for example by providing barriers, give way signs or warning lights to motorists. If a car and train collide because the crossing was malfunctioning or was not safe to use, then Network Rail may be liable for the injuries of the driver and his passengers.
There are also situations where the train operator may be liable for the accident. For example, if the train operator did not give an audible warning of the train's approach, reduce speed or follow safety protocols, then a Court may decide that the train operator was wholly or partly to blame for the collision.
Drivers who try to run the lights or who do not observe the level crossing's warning systems are breaking The Highway Code. A Court may decide that the driver's negligence or recklessness contributed to the accident. This is known as contributory negligence. It may still be possible to bring a claim in this situation, but the claimant's award typically will be reduced to reflect the part they played in the incident.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Cyclists and pedestrians are asked to be especially vigilant when using a level crossing. It is the responsibility of the individual to obey the warning signs and ensure that it is safe to cross.
Network Rail has recently launched a cycling safety campaign in a bid to reduce the number of level crossing accidents and near misses. The advice, which applies equally to pedestrians, recommends:
- Stopping, looking and listening for approaching trains
- Dismounting and walking the bike over the crossing, as wheels can get stuck in railway tracks
- Removing earphones before crossing to ensure that warning alarms or oncoming trains can be heard
- Observing all instruction signs, alarms and signals
- Never assuming that only one train is approaching or guessing when a train might come based on the timetable.
To make a successful claim, cyclists and pedestrians who are injured on a level crossing must establish that Network Rail or the train operator was negligent and that the injury arose as a result. This may be a difficult case to argue, particularly in the absence on CCTV footage or witness statements. An injury lawyer experienced in level crossing accidents can help collect the necessary evidence and build a compelling case.
Not all level crossing accidents involve the risk of collision with a train.
Occasionally cyclists come off their bikes due to a defect in the surface of the crossing. Compensation may be recovered from Network Rail if it can be established that they did not maintain the crossing and the want of repair directly contributed to the cyclist's injuries. Read more about cycling injury claims.
No Win, No Fee injury claims commence with the injured claimant agreeing, with their chosen solicitor, a Conditional Fee Agreement, or CFA,.
The CFA explains the service your case handler will provide and a percentage success fee. This will be the percentage to be taken from the compensation award after your case is won.
There are absolutely no hidden costs with a Quittance solicitor. You can focus on your recovery, knowing that you will never be out of pocket and there is nothing whatsoever to pay up front.
The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our personal injury compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.
Road traffic accident claims
Every year almost 200,000* people are injured on Britain's roads. If you have been injured in a road accident that was not your fault, you can claim compensation.
Find out more about claiming compensation for a road accident: Read more about road accident claims
*Source: Official Department of Transport statistics (gov.uk)
Meet the team
The national network of QLS solicitors handle all types of personal injury claims, from short-term injury cases to long-term injuries. Chosen for their track record in recovering compensation, Quittance's panel solicitors have years of experience.
About the author
Paul is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and has served as a Deputy District Judge, giving him a uniquely broad understanding of the claims process.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert