Fort Worth Train Accident Lawyer
Stephens Law Firm, PLLC represents Fort Worth, TX train accident victims and their families in holding the responsible parties accountable.
As a victim, you should not face a financial burden as a result of your accident. Fort Worth train accident attorney Jason Stephens can help.
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Why You Need a Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer After a Train Accident
Going up against an insurance and its team of lawyers and claims adjusters is intimidating enough, but train accidents are even more complex than ordinary traffic accidents. These cases involve federal accident investigations that can drag on for many months as well as multiple victims and insurance companies.
When you are facing serious and potentially life-changing injuries after an accident, the last thing you should be worried about is fighting for the fair compensation you deserve as you heal. With Stephens Law Firm, PLLC, you benefit from more than two decades of experience dealing with serious personal injury and wrongful death claims.
An experienced Fort Worth personal injury attorney at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC will be your advocate in seeking the compensation and sense of justice you deserve. Jason Stephens strives to level the playing field between you and the large corporations and insurance companies you’re up against so you can be made as whole as possible.
An award-winning attorney, Jason Stephens has successfully recovered tens of millions of dollars for clients through settlements and verdicts. Stephens Law Firm, PLLC has also earned numerous awards including Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the country. Let this Fort Worth law firm put its experience and legal insight to work for you so you can focus on your recovery.
How Common Are Train Accidents in Texas?
It’s true that train accidents aren’t as common as car accidents, but when they do occur, they’re capable of leaving dozens or even hundreds of people with serious and life-changing injuries.
According to the Bureau of Transportation, there were 1,848 train accidents in 2019 alone of which 1,283 were derailments and 115 were collisions. The Federal Railroad Administration, which tracks vehicle-train collisions and crashes at highway-rail grade crossings, reported 2,216 crashes at railroad crossings, 807 injuries, and 293 fatalities in 2019.
Texas leads the country in train accidents. Of the 2,216 collisions at railroad crossings in 2019, 251 were in Texas with 31 fatalities and 123 injuries.
In 2008, Texas was one of several states required to develop a safety action for railroad crossings. Fatalities at Texas railroad crossings have been on the rise for over a decade which has raised questions about the safety of the state’s 11,000 miles of railroad track. Elsewhere in the country, railroad crossing deaths have been generally decreasing.
Types of Train Accidents in Fort Worth
Railroad accidents come in many forms:
- Vehicle-train collisions
- Train accidents involving pedestrians
- Train derailment
- Incidents that injure railroad employees
It’s important to understand the distinctions between these types of train accidents because they affect liability and ultimately how you may collect damages.
The most common type of train accident in Texas is one involving a passenger vehicle and a train at a railroad crossing. As a general rule, rails are treated as distinct highway systems with their own regulations and rules. Anyone who is not authorized by the railroad company to be on the rail track is considered a trespasser and owed few duties of care.
However, there are exceptions to this rule that can make the train company liable for injuries at a railroad intersection.
One exception deals with line-of-sight. Drivers have the right to clearly see if a train is approaching for their own protection and both federal and state law mandate how many feet drivers should be able to see. Railroads must provide views that are unobstructed by inclines or foliage.
Another exception is the failure of the warning system. Railroads are required to use several types of warnings at intersections including lights, honking the horn, and preventative arms that come down to block traffic. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for these systems to fail.
Train Accidents Involving Pedestrians
While no one is allowed on railroad tracks without the company’s permission, and railroads owe little protection or duty to pedestrians on or near the tracks, the biggest exception is children. The railroad company must make some effort to prevent children from playing on tracks and discourage this dangerous behavior.
One of the most frightening types of train accidents is a derailment. Derailments involving Amtrak or Trinity Railway Express have the potential to harm many passengers. A train may become derailed by a collision with another vehicle, mechanical failure of the tracks or wheels, or operational error such as excessive speeds.
Who is liable for a train derailment will depend on the underlying cause. When operational error or mechanical failure are to blame, the railroad company may be liable for damages to victims.
Accidents Involving Railroad Employees
Jobs involving the railroad are notoriously difficult and may come with long hours and dangerous work conditions involving large machinery. Railroad employees who are injured or killed in a railroad incident do not use the standard workers’ compensation system. Instead, they are protected by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
FELA does not offer guaranteed benefits like workers’ compensation and requires filing a lawsuit to prove the railroad was responsible for the injuries. However, workers must only show the railroad’s negligence contributed to the accident, not that it was primarily at fault.
What Causes Train Accidents in Fort Worth?
Train accidents can be caused by many factors. Most are caused by human error or negligence, but accidents can also be caused by dangerous intersections, malfunctioning warning devices, mechanical failure, and more.
The following are some of the most common causes of train accidents and derailment:
- Defective parts
- Negligent, distracted, or fatigued train operators
- Improper maintenance
- Obstructed roadway
- Negligent driver of a passenger vehicle on the intersection
- Mechanical failure of the wheels or tracks
- Defective, malfunctioning, or poorly maintained warning devices
- Excessive speeds
- Overloaded cargo
The design of railroad crossings and how trains are operated can also play a big role in train accidents. In one recent train accident in Midland, four veterans were killed when a truck crashed into a Union Pacific Train. The truck driver entered the track before the arms descended but after the warning signs began to flash.
The investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the intersection alert device activated within 20 seconds of the train’s arrival. This is the minimum federal regulations required but the device should have activated at 30 seconds. The trains on the rail line travel up to 70 mph even though the crossing was only designed for speeds of up to 25 mph.
Who Is Liable for a Train Accident in Texas?
Train accidents are notoriously complicated in part because so many parties may share liability. Train accidents in Texas are always investigated by the Federal Railway Administration but many accident victims also benefit from a separate investigation to determine how the accident happened.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, one or more parties may be legally liable for the damages you have suffered:
- The train operator
- The company or entity responsible for maintaining the rail track system. This may or may not be the train operator
- The company responsible for maintaining the trains
- Other drivers who may be responsible for a collision
- The manufacturer of defective parts
Stephens Law Firm, PLLC will perform a thorough investigation of your accident which may involve working with accident reconstruction specialists. The goal will be to work to determine exactly who was responsible for your injuries and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Compensation for a Train Accident in Fort Worth
If you have been seriously hurt in a train accident near Fort Worth, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Train accidents often result in life-changing and traumatic injuries and victims may be left with seemingly insurmountable medical bills, chronic pain, and an uncertain financial future. Stephens Law Firm, PLLC, fights for all of the compensation train accident victims deserve.
If you are injured in a train accident caused by a negligent driver or train company, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Current and ongoing medical expenses related to the accident
- Lost wages during recovery
- Reduced future income or loss of future income if you face long-term or permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
If you lost a loved one in a train accident, you may also be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawsuit can help you recover money for funeral expenses, your loved one’s pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and the income and benefits your loved one would have provided.
How you can collect compensation and how much you can receive will depend on who is liable and who operates the train.
For example, the state of Texas, county, and city governments are nearly immune from lawsuits but there is an exception under the Texas Torts Claim Act. If the train operator was a government entity and at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages. However, damages are capped at $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident (or lower for county governments).
There is also a federal law limiting liability for passenger rail accidents against other companies such as Amtrak. The $295 million cap is per accident and it applies no matter how many people were injured or killed.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Fort Worth Train Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries on an Amtrak, Trinity Metro, or TEXRail train in Fort Worth, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you have sustained.
Proving liability in a train accident case can be difficult with many parties and victims potentially involved. That’s why it pays to seek experienced legal counsel from a Fort Worth train accident lawyer to protect your legal rights.
When you’re up against a major corporation and insurance company, you need a skilled attorney by your side to level the playing field. Attorney Jason Stephens has represented accident victims for more than twenty years.
Contact Jason and his compassionate support team at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule your free consultation to find out how he’ll help you seek the compensation you deserve.