Railroad Crossing & Derailment Accidents
Welcome to the Rodgers Law Firm
When someone suffers a debilitating injury or the death of a loved one in a railroad accident, lives change totally.
The pain and suffering caused by the injury or death may be further increased by intense feeling of anger, frustration, and resentment because the accident could have been easily avoided if the person at fault, the wrongdoer, had only been more careful.
We at the Rodgers Law Firm in Fort Worth, Texas understand the devastation and losses caused by railroad accidents. Victims may have no transportation, be unable to work due to injury, have no health insurance or large savings to pay for medical care, do not know how to find health care providers that will wait for payment until the case settles, and do not have the energy or know how to deal with the insurance company for the railroad company.
That's why we are here – to do everything we can to help our clients get the answers, the assistance, and the compensation that they are entitled to under the law.
We handle railroad injury cases statewide and throughout the DFW Metroplex and surrounding cities, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Denton, Burleson, Cleburne, Decatur, Weatherford, Haltom City, North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Azle, Mineral Wells, Sherman, and Denison.
If you have a family member or friend that is a victim of a railroad accident, contact us for a free, no obligation consultation. We will meet with you at our office or any location convenient to you.
In a free, no obligation consultation with us, you may evaluate first hand our capabilities to help you and other family members work through the legal, economic and emotional hurdles faced when a family member sustains such a devastating injury.
The following pages of detailed legal information will give you insights into the depth of our capabilities in heavy truck cases.
The U.S. railroad system has over 600 railroads, with more than 200,000 miles of track, 1.2 million freight cars, 20,000 locomotives, and 223,000 railroad crossings at grade. Every 90 minutes, a train accident occurs somewhere in this country, and every two weeks, a train carrying hazardous materials runs off the tracks and spills its load. Texas suffers more rail crossing-related accidents than any other state. Between 1991 and 1998, 380 people were killed at railroad crossings in Texas.
By law, railroad carriers have a duty to maintain the safety of their tracks, particularly around railroad crossings. A railroad carrier can be held liable if an accident occurs where there are defective or insufficient numbers of warning lights and signs. Additionally, railroad engineers and crews have a duty to keep a lookout for potential problems and to sound the train's horn when approaching potentially dangerous areas.
Most crossing accidents are not caused by drivers trying to beat a train across the tracks. 80 percent of public railroad crossings do not have warning lights and gates and 60 % of all crossing fatalities happen at these places, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The 4 major causes of crossing accidents are:
1. Crossing conditions: the wider the crossing, the longer it takes to clear. The warning time for standards used for crossing guards is not proper for multiple track crossings; the beds at crossings are often not level - mud, gravel and potholes cause driver distraction and slow the speed the driver can use to cross the crossing. All of these things cause the driver to remain longer in the zone of danger.
2. Obstruction of view: crossings and their approaches are frequently obscured by bushes, trees, factories, and roads. Where the road and tracks are parallel the driver can see only briefly before he turns into the crossing.
3. Train speeds and whistles: train engineers speed to make up lost time. Train speed tapes sometimes show speeds of 80 miles an hour when approaching crossings, especially in small town areas. Whistle posts are placed without regard to train speeds or whistle audibility at the crossings. Whistles can be masked by local factory noise, diesel truck engines, and other loud noises that hide the sound of the whistle.
4. Inadequate warning devices at crossings: signs, crossbucks, flashers, bells, and gates are devices that should be used to make crossings safer. About 80 percent of grade crossings throughout the country are not properly protected with proper warning devices. Most crossings in rural areas have only a visual crossbuck.
Problems with train tracks are responsible for as many as 1000 derailment accidents a year. Most track derailments are caused by poorly maintained sections of track. Often the two tracks loosen and separate over time resulting in what is called "wide gage", when this occurs the distance between the two rails expands creating a dangerous condition.
In 2000, the entire United States railroad system encompassed 660 railroads, 220,000 miles of track, 20,000 freight locomotives, 8,800 passenger locomotives (coaches), 1,300,000 freight cars, and 265,000 employees, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Railroad accidents include derailments, collisions with passenger vehicles or other trains, grade crossing accidents, or accidents due to mechanical failure. Railroad accidents can result in catastrophic injury, loss of lives or property, or hazardous material spills. Examples of injuries that result from railroad accidents include, but are not limited to, sprains, fractures, head trauma, brain damage, paralysis, and, in extreme cases, death. Victims of railroad accidents may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, grade crossing railroad accidents are the greatest cause of fatalities and injuries in the railroad industry. In 2000, there were a total of 3,502 railroad accidents at public crossings, resulting in 425 fatalities and 1,219 injuries. It is the railroad’s responsibility to ensure there are appropriate signals and gates at every railroad crossing to avoid serious accidents and injuries. If the railroad fails to provide adequate warnings, they are liable for any injury or death that occurs as a result.
According to information released by the Union Pacific railroad company in 2007:
•About every two hours in the U.S., either a vehicle or pedestrian is involved in a collision with at train. Nearly 50 percent of vehicle/train collusions occur at crossings with active warning devices such as gates, lights, and bells.
•A typical locomotive weighs about 200 tons or 400,000 pounds. When 100 railcars are added to the locomotive, the train can weigh about 6,000 tons. The weight ratio of an automobile to a train can be compared to a soda can and an automobile.
•Trains overhang the tracks at least three feet in both directions and wider loads or loose straps hanging from rail cars may extend even further.
•Trains cannot stop quickly because it is a simple law of physics: the huge weight and size of the train and the speed of the train dictate how quickly it can stop under ideal conditions. A 100-car freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour will need more than a mile to stop-that’s about 18 football fields-once the train is set into emergency braking.
•By the time a locomotive engineer can see a trespasser or a vehicle on the tracks, it is too late. The train cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision. A locomotive engineer who suddenly spots a car ahead has little chance to miss the car.
Losing the Right to Make the Claim
You must file your Texas train collision suit within a certain time period or else you will lose your right to pursue your claim. In many cases, the suit must be filed within two years from the date of the accident.
Simply contacting the railroad or contacting the railroad’s insurance company about the accident is not enough to stop the running of the two year period.
There are other reasons to act quickly. Key witnesses may disappear, witnesses’ memories may fade, and vital documents may be lost. Sometimes it takes months of investigation to determine who the true defendants are that are legally responsible for the accident. It is crucially important that you do not delay in consulting with an attorney.
Contact us for a free no-obligation consultation as soon as possible to ensure that you retain your right to pursue your claim.
Ask Us for a Second Opinion If Another Attorney Has Declined To Represent You
Attorneys regularly decide whether the case that they are reviewing does or does not meet all the requirements to be a viable, sound wrongful death case. Making this determination is not an exact science. Based on different experiences and analytic abilities, one attorney may turn down the opportunity to represent a client and another attorney may decide to take the case.
The second reviewing attorney saw something the first reviewing attorney may have overlooked. The first attorney may have decided that liability was not clear, that the damages were not large enough, that there was not available insurance coverage or other sources to pay the money damages, or that there were other problems in seeking a recovery.
We would welcome the opportunity to review your railroad claim even if another attorney has turned the case down. There is no charge or obligation for our review.
You may contact us at the following phone numbers at any time:
Office: toll free: 1-866-560-1075
Copyright 1994 - 2007 Clifford B. Rodgers.
Last Modified July 6, 2007.