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Chicago works to improve safety at rail crossings

Chicago's well-developed rail system can be a godsend for commuters, tourists and shippers. The lines that criss-cross the metro area make the city easier to navigate and more accessible for everyone. However, they can also be a hazard to motorists and pedestrians.

The Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation has said that with funding in short supply, it is difficult to install railroad crossing gates to help prevent serious accidents. Four-quad gates, which provide extra barriers at crossings, have been shown to dramatically slash accident rates but they are expensive to install.

However, there is a valid argument that safeguarding tracks makes financial sense, too. A recent accident involving a dump truck on train tracks severely damaged the train, costing millions of dollars to repair. Beyond that, cleanup bills, legal costs, government investigators and emergency workers all need to get paid after an accident.

Accidents at train crossings also affect the victims and their families, the train crews and the shippers who use rail to deliver their goods. With so many factors at work it is easy to see that safeguarding rail crossings is well worth the expense.

While the Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safe roadways and crossings, train crews and their employers may also share in the responsibility for these accidents.People who are injured or have loved ones killed in a rail crossing accident may be able to pursue damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other claims.

If you have been injured in an accident, it is best to speak with a personal injury attorney who can help you review the facts and pursue the best course of legal action, if appropriate.

Source: The Daily Herald, "Experts say railroad crossing safety costly but crucial," Mami Pyke, Oct. 11, 2012

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