Baltimore & Ohio RR Co. v. Goodman

275 U.S. 66 (1927).

One-Sentence Takeaway: One who drives upon a railroad track relying upon not having heard a train or any signal and taking no further precaution, does so at his own risk and if he cannot otherwise be sure whether a train is dangerously near, the driver must stop and get out of his vehicle before attempting to cross.

Summary:  Goodman was driving a truck and he was hit and killed by Defendant’s train.  Goodman’s widow brought suit and argued that her husband had no practical view of the train and that the accident was caused by Defendant’s negligence. Defendant, on the other hand, argued that it was Goodman’s negligence that caused the accident.

The trial court refused to grant a directed verdict for Defendant and entered a judgment for Goodman and the court of appeals affirmed.  However, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment.

The Court held that a man must take precaution when he is going to go upon a railroad track, and he cannot just rely upon the fact that he has not heard the train or that there is no signal that the train is coming.   The Court further held that under such circumstances, if a driver cannot be sure if a train is dangerously near, then he should stop and get out of his vehicle to see.  If he does not take any other precautions, then he crosses at his own risk.

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