Trains are fixtures of the Texas landscape. Given that an estimated 247 million tons of cargo are transported from the Port of Houston annually, it should be no surprise that the Lone Star State relies heavily on trains to get things moving. Passenger trains are also widely available in Texas, and they give residents an easy and convenient way to get around.
Those trains have become crucial components of the Texas economy. But unfortunately, they have also been involved in more than a few accidents over the years. When a train “jumps the track” or strikes a vehicle at a railroad crossing, the chances are very high that the accident will result in multiple deaths, and severe bodily injuries.
However, train accidents are far more complex than your average car wreck. The federal government regulates railroad and train safety, and as such there are many complex and often difficult issues in determining liability in a train accident case. This is why it’s important to consult with an experienced Texas train accident lawyer regarding your case.
Train Accident Statistics
If you have been a Texas resident for a while, then you probably know that the state is no stranger to train accidents. However, you may be unaware of just how large the gap is between Texas and the other states in that regard. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, a total of 170 train accidents took place in Texas throughout 2021. Those 170 accidents do not include highway-rail crossing incidents.
Pull back a little, and you will discover that those accidents accounted for 10.3% of all train crashes that year. Illinois was second with 139, and California ended up third with 90 recorded accidents. Remarkably, that 170 mark actually represents a significant decrease in train accidents in Texas.
In 2020, that number was 192, and 233 back in 2019. Go back to 2018, and you will see that 260 train accidents occurred in Texas that year. Those 260 accidents accounted for 13% of all train-related incidents throughout the country. It is important to note that Texas also leads the country in highway-rail crossing incidents.
From 2018 to 2021, the state recorded 760 highway-rail crossing accidents on public crossings. However, if you only look at highway-rail crossing incidents that occurred on private crossings over that same timespan, that number drops to 178. Despite the big drops, Texas still leads the country in those statistics. The numbers illustrate the threat that trains pose to commuters and passengers in Texas. You must be aware of those numbers if you are living in the Lone Star State. It would also be wise to learn the number of a railroad accident attorney so you can approach them for help if you are ever involved in that type of incident.
Types of Train Accident Cases Our Injury Lawyers Work On
Our San Antonio personal injury lawyers handle all types of train accident cases. We will take on your case no matter which railroad company is on the opposite side. Texas is home to three Class I common freight carriers. They are BNSF Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, and Union Pacific Railroad.
Class I railroad companies are capable of flexing considerable financial might. As a result, many accident victims are hesitant to pursue cases against them because they are intimidated. You should not hesitate to take legal action even against a Class I railroad company if we are working on your case. As your railroad accident attorney, we will bring the facts to light and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Class III common freight carriers typically service smaller towns. You will find them operating all over the state of Texas. Examples of Class III railroad companies that operate in Texas include Big Spring Rail, Panhandle Northern Railroad, and Western Rail Road.
Hire us to be your train accident attorney if you wish to seek compensation from those Class III common freight carriers. We will not hesitate to take them to task for their negligence.
Other railroad companies that operate in Texas include commuter rails (Capital MetroRail, TEXRAIL), intercity passenger rails (Amtrak), and light rails (DART Rail, Houston METRORail). You can continue relying on us for legal assistance even if your accident involved one of those railway companies.
Causes of Train Accidents in Texas
We have established that train accidents are more common in Texas than elsewhere in the country. Moreover, those accidents can lead to serious injuries. Examples of those injuries include:
Soft tissue damage
Many of those train accidents also lead to fatalities. Avoid those potentially serious injuries by learning more about the common causes of train accidents in Texas. By learning about the common causes of those accidents, you can avoid them better during your travels. Let’s discuss those common causes below.
Track-Related Issues: Issues affecting train tracks are among the most common causes of railway accidents. The issue in question could be an obstruction on the track or a mechanical flaw rooted in poor maintenance. In cases like these, you must find out the track issue’s nature. Was there negligence on the part of the railroad company, or is another party to blame? Hire a train accident lawyer so you can identify the appropriate party to hold accountable for your accident.
Mechanical Failure: Trains are complex pieces of machinery that require diligent maintenance. Therefore, railway companies must pay close attention to all their trains. If a crash occurs because one of their trains suffered from mechanical failure, they will be on the hook for significant damages.
Mechanical failure on the car driver’s part can also lead to an accident. For example, your car may break down while you are trying to traverse one of the railroad crossings in San Antonio. In that scenario, they may pin the subsequent crash on you.
Driver/Train Operator Error: The train accident in your part of Bexar County may be related to human error. The challenge will be figuring out if the driver or train operator made the grave mistake. Driver/train operator error could manifest in the form of distracted driving. One of the parties involved may not have been paying attention to their surroundings when the accident occurred.
Improperly Secured Railroad Crossings: Accidents involving trains may also occur if railroad crossings are not appropriately secured. The issue, in this case, could be something like the railroad crossing lacking any features that could impede a car’s movement while a train is passing nearby. Railroad crossings should also be appropriately marked.
If they are not and an accident occurs, the party that failed to mark the railroad crossing could be liable for what happened. Per the Federal Railroad Administration, railroad crossings in the United States may be publicly or privately owned. Therefore, you must identify the owner if you want to pursue compensation in your train accident case.
How Are Train Accident Cases Different From Car Accident Cases?
If you are planning to take legal action against the railroad company responsible for causing your accident, you must hire a train accident lawyer beforehand. These are not like your typical car accident cases which would require the expertise of a car accident lawyer.
To put it simply, train accident cases are significantly more complicated than accidents that only involve cars. Why are train accident cases more complicated? For starters, it is not always easy to establish negligence on their part. If your car was stuck on the tracks because it broke down and the train crashed into it, the fault does not automatically fall on the railroad company. Instead, they may argue that you were at fault because you had no business being on the tracks in the first place.
Train companies may also try to pass the buck if the root cause of an accident is related to an improperly secured railroad crossing. They may suggest that maintaining the crossing was not their responsibility, so the accident that stemmed from it is not their fault either. Partner with an experienced train accident attorney if you want to file a case against a railroad company. Lean on their expertise so you can increase your chances of winning your lawsuit.
Who Is Liable When a Train Hits a Car?
You must identify the negligent party to determine liability in a train accident involving a car. The train operator and the car driver owe a duty of care to one another. Therefore, they must follow the rules governing them to prevent these accidents. If one side proves that the other party breached their duty of care and that breach directly led to the accident, they will be liable for damages.
The court may also determine that both parties share the blame for what happened. Since Texas is a modified comparative fault state, the courts can reduce your compensation if you are partially to blame for the accident. You may also miss compensation if you bear more than 50% of the blame.
What Does a Texas Train Accident Attorney Do?
Working with a lawyer is a must if you were recently involved in a train accident. The services they provide will be beneficial during that time.
Key services that your railroad accident lawyer can provide include:
Investigate the accident
Collect video evidence documenting the crash
Speak to witnesses
Obtain the police report from law enforcement
Handle communications with the railroad company and their representatives
Negotiate a potential settlement
Give you more time to recover
File your lawsuit on time
Given the circumstances, hiring a lawyer after your train accident is practically essential. Do not head into this legal battle with the railroad without enlisting the assistance of a legal expert first.
Types of Railroad Accident Injury Claims
The lawsuits filed in the wake of railroad accidents are into three categories. Those categories include personal injury claims, lawsuits based on the Tort Claims Act, and wrongful death lawsuits. Let’s discuss those different claims in greater detail.
Personal Injury Claims
Filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary if the railroad company that caused your accident is privately owned. Although these lawsuits are more complicated because they involve trains, they are still somewhat similar to the cases that motorists may file against one another. You must establish negligence on the part of the train company to succeed with your personal injury claim. Plaintiffs must also show that the train company’s negligence directly led to the accident and your injury.
Lawsuits Based on the Tort Claims Act
Instead of a personal injury claim, you will need to file a lawsuit based on the Tort Claims Act if the train that caused your accident was owned and operated by the government. As you can imagine, cases involving government-owned entities can be complex. Work closely with a lawyer to give yourself the best odds of winning.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Sadly, you may need to file a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one involved in the train accident passed away from the injuries they sustained. The deceased party’s spouse, children, or parents in Texas can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition, the executor of the deceased person’s estate may also file a wrongful death lawsuit if the parties opt against taking legal action with a wrongful death lawyer.
Average Compensation for Train Accident Cases
Following your involvement in a train accident, the railroad company may approach you with a settlement offer. However, they may prefer to pay you now to make the whole case disappear. Before accepting that offer, you should know about the average compensation for these cases.
The average compensation for a train accident case involving minor injuries is around $9,000. However, that number increases significantly if you undergo surgery to treat some injuries. In those cases, average compensation shoots up to around $100,000.
Consult with your railroad accident attorney if you receive a settlement offer from the other side. Evaluate the offer and decide if it fairly compensates you for what happened. Do not hesitate to head to court if you determine that the railroad company is not offering enough.
What Types of Train Accident Cases Does Barrus Injury Lawyers Handle?
The Texas injury attorneys at Barrus Injury Lawyers have the experience to handle complex and high profile train accident litigation involving:
Hazardous material spills
Train and Railroad Accident Lawyers in Texas
At our Texas injury law firm, we assign a dedicated personal injury trial lawyer to your case to help answer your questions, and develop an effective strategy for pursuing every avenue of your case following a train accident. Our experience and strategies seek to hold persons and government agencies responsible for any negligent acts that may have contributed to your injury, including:
Railroad Crossing Signal Malfunctions
Defective Design or Construction of Crossing
Impaired Engineers or Operators
Negligent Maintenance of tracks or safety devices
Failure to provide proper warnings & precautions
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a train accident, it’s important to protect your rights, and to get help quickly. Contact Barrus Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Texas personal injury attorneys. Following a train accident, you owe it to yourself to contact our Texas railway lawyers, we know what it takes to help you recover and receive compensation you for your losses, and pain and suffering.