Learn more about the ins and outs of Texas railroad accidents and how you may recover compensation for your damages
Written by: Enjuris Editors
Railroad and train accidents may not be as common as car accidents, but they can be just as damaging. Accidents on railroads or with trains can easily leave you injured and facing serious stress.
Surviving the accident is just the tip of the ice burg. Physical and emotional trauma is a true struggle and the piling medical bills are also on your radar. You may begin searching for ways to both pay for these bills and recover from the accident.
Should you hire an attorney? How do you know you can even receive compensation at all for your injuries?
We’ll take a look at some questions surrounding railroad and train accidents and how you may receive compensation to help.
What makes an accident a railroad accident?
Railroad accidents are not limited to trains striking other trains.
Trains that strike motor vehicles at crossings, derailments that injure pedestrians or workers, or any accident that involves a train or railroad equipment and results in damage can be considered a railroad accident.
Any kind of train can be involved in a train accident including passenger trains, subways or other urban trains, freight trains, etc.
There are two different types of train accidents: operational train accidents and external train accidents.
Operational train injuries are those that come about because of negligence or a breach in basic responsibilities. They include anything from incorrect train routing and faulty warning signs to machinery that was improperly inspected.
External train accidents are caused by incidents that are not the fault of the train company, meaning that external forces are the cause. An example of an external train accident could be an individual ignoring warning signs and recklessly entering the tracks.
Common railroad accidents in Texas
Train accidents certainly aren’t as common as car accidents, but Texas sees its fair share every year.
Texas is one of the most influential states for oil and since transporting oil by rail has become more common, oil train accidents are on the rise.
In addition, larger Texas cities like Houston and Dallas have public railway systems that cater to their metro areas. These types of public trains can strike pedestrians, crash into other trains, or hit cars on the shared roads.
Are railroad accidents more complicated than other accidents?
The short answer is yes.
Railroad accidents, like motor vehicle accidents, can cause a vast range of injuries: anything from broken bones to catastrophic injuries or even death. What really makes railroad accident cases more complicated, however, is the amount of players that may be involved. There are many parties involved in a train’s day to day operations and each of these parties could be held liable depending on the situation.
Due to a train’s size and its inability to stop as quickly as a car, the physical and emotional damages can range much higher and more serious than typical car crashes. The higher damages can mean that the railroad’s commercial insurance companies are less willing to comply with the compensation, and things can become complicated quickly.
Any time you are injured due to a train or other railroad equipment, you may have the right to sue for damages. In the case of train accidents, sometimes negligence must be proven, and other times, strict liability can take over.
Negligence means that someone has failed to act out their set responsibility. For example, railroad companies have a responsibility to properly train conductors. If corners are cut and a train conductor causes an accident because of this lack of training, the company can be held negligent because they did not carry out their responsibilities.
The majority of personal injury cases, regardless of where they take place, are the result of some sort of negligence.
Strict liability, on the other hand, establishes a degree of liability without fault meaning that you or your attorney does not need to prove negligence in order to receive compensation. Under the terms of strict liability, a company is inherently responsible for any defective products or unsafe conditions that could threaten an employee or civilian.
Examples of strict liability include a railroad employer failing to maintain a safe work environment or a manufacturing company being held responsible for a defective product. Both can easily result in an injury.
Who is liable? What damages can I collect?
Anyone who has shown negligence of fails in their responsibilities in a railroad accident has the chance to be held liable for your injuries, depending on how those injuries were brought about. Those that can be held responsible include:
A railroad conductor or other employee
The railroad company
Manufacturers of faulty train parts
Liability in railroad accidents, since so many parties can be involved, is difficult to pin down and can take extensive investigation even for experienced attorneys.
As far as collectable damages, you may be able to collect damages to help cover:
Current or future medical expenses
Pain and suffering
Lost wages and time at work
Loss of quality of life
If you’ve endured the loss of a family member because of a train accident, you may also be able to collect compensation for funeral expenses or a loss of companionship.
How can I help my train accident case?
The best thing you can do to improve your train accident case and raise the chance of receiving compensation is carefully documenting your case.
This means you should keep copies of all documents that share details of your injuries or the case’s details including:
Any communication with an insurance company
Any personally written details that you remember from the accident
Including your own memories can reveal specific details that can prove very helpful for your case later on. If you’re able, taking pictures of the scene of the accident can have this same affect. Evidence that may be damaged in cleanup can be preserved in pictures.
What if I’m a railroad employee?
Unlike other employees, railroad employees do have the right to sue their employers for damages caused by railroad injuries. This is because railroad employees do not have access to traditional, fixed worker’s compensation benefits.
Instead, railroad workers fall under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). This act protects employees’ rights to compensation for their work injuries and gives them the chance to pursue their compensation in court rather than settling for a set amount like with worker’s comp.
Railroad employees have the option to sue their employers under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).
FELA does differ from workers’ comp in other ways, however. In the first place, railroad employees, like injured civilians, must prove their employer acted in negligence and caused the accident or that conditions/products were irresponsibly maintained. Workers’ compensation is also more subject to caps, whereas full compensation can be paid under the FELA.
It’s important to note that the statute of limitations for any claims filed under FELA is three years from the date of the accident.
What to look for in an attorney for your railroad accident case
Railroad accidents are often accompanied by serious and expensive injuries, and there are many parties that could be held liable each with their own insurance companies.
With a complicated situation and high stakes at hand, you’ll want to make sure you work with an attorney who understands the regulations and operations that can surround railroad accident cases. Check out our article to learn more about how to find a great personal injury attorney in Texas.
Have questions about your accident and the law? Get answers!