Autos and Trains
Most train accidents occur happen when a motor vehicle finds its way on the tracks at the wrong time. Accidents between trains and passenger vehicles happen more often than most people believe. But most of these collisions don’t happen as depicted in the media with the train hitting the car as it tries to speed across the tracks.
More likely, collisions between cars and trains occur late at night at unlit or under marked railroad crossings when a car drives onto the tracks and in the path of a speeding train as it rumbles down the tracks. Often, the culprit is a result of faulty warning systems or a lack of warning machinery altogether. If you think about it, for every “speeding motorist” train-related wreck story you hear, you probably are told about improper or unsafe railroad crossing auto/train accidents five or ten times more. And a railroad’s failure to adequately warn motorists of the risk posed by train crossings, or doing everything they can to prevent them: like placing crossing gates, or devices that flash and make noise, can be found to be liable for injuries or the wrongful deaths of the victims in a train accident. Many times, the facts of such cases prove the plaintiff/the driver who drove into the side of the train may not even be liable.
And though the nature of the injured victim’s claim may depend on what he or she was doing at the time of the collision, injured victims in a collision with a train may have a negligence claim against the railroad.
We all owe each other a legal duty to do all that is reasonable to avoid harming others. Levels of duty can range from generally average to extremely high. The legal duty of the owner of any train to protect the public from these 25+ ton wheeled behemoths is quite high. This means the standards of care they must follow to protect the public are equally lofty. Conversely, because that duty is so high, when railroad companies, or their employees, display negligence in fulfilling their legal duty, the level of proving that negligence is not nearly as difficult, once the true facts of the case are known.
And though trains usually have the right of way, this doesn’t give them leave to go through crossings at unreasonable speeds: even if the engineer has a precise schedule to keep. Rather, the operator of the train must use reasonable care; in this case, slowing down in populated areas and keeping a sharp eye for vehicles or pedestrians. After all, it takes well over a mile for a fully-loaded train to stop even at speeds as low as 30 miles an hour. And in many cases, reasonable care may also require a railroad to construct more visible (and audible) warning and signal devices in order to further alert people when a train is coming.
So when an accident happens, just like when one happens with a large semi, the “driver” is only the first logical defendant, but there might be others behind the scenes who, through their efforts, might have contributed to an accident that happens miles from where they are. Employees at a communications or monitoring center might have played a hand, or those who might have constructed or maintained warning signals at crossings might share some of the blame. In such a case, the legal notion of respondent superior might be in-play: which means the employer is liable for the tragic mistakes of their employees as they go about their jobs.
Much of what we have shared above can apply to other train-related mishaps that hurt or kill unwilling people who did nothing to contribute to these tragedies. So it is important to contact an experienced train accident injury lawyer as soon as humanly possible.
Our Law Firm has decades of experience handling personal injury litigation in railroad accident cases. If you or a loved one has been hit by one of these huge, lumbering trains, our expertise assures that you receive the fairest compensation possible for the injuries and pain you have suffered. We’ve helped deliver millions of dollars to hundreds of accident victims in Texas. So if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a train accident anywhere you might have been in Texas, our experienced accident lawyers can help win the best compensation possible for you.