Liability of the railroad company in the event of an accident between a train and a motor vehicle


Source: pixabay/pvdv63

Liability of the railroad company in the event of an accident between a train and a motor vehicle

In a ruling at the end of January this year, the Celle Higher Regional Court in Germany confirmed that rail operators are solely liable in the event of accidents involving trains at level crossings if rail safety systems are in place.

In August 2019, a collision occurred between a car and a regional train in Lower Saxony in Germany. The reason for this accident was that both the barriers and the light-imaging systems at the secured railroad crossing were not working. Because the driver could only see the railroad track to a limited extent due to the overgrowth, she did not see the train until it was too late. The train driver braked when he saw that the barriers were not closed but was unable to prevent a collision.
After the injured woman and the railroad company were unable to agree on compensation for pain and suffering, the woman sued and won.

After the Regional Court had already ruled in favor of the plaintiff, the Higher Regional Court now confirmed this decision. The reason for this is that a motorist can generally assume that no train is approaching when the technical safety systems on the roadside are switched off at level crossings. In such cases, sole liability of the railroad operator is generally a possibility, which only ceases to apply in exceptional cases if the approaching train was recognizable to the motorist. However, this was not the case in this instance. In addition, the defendant was to be blamed for a high degree of fault since the safety systems of the level crossing had failed 15 times in one month and the defendant had not taken any additional safety measures as a result.

Due to the extensive serious injuries, the Celle Higher Regional Court awarded damages totaling €60,000 for pain and suffering. The Higher Regional Court considered the denial of the railroad operator as increasing the compensation for pain and suffering.

Go back