A train going down the tracks with the words, "when pedestrians are hit by a train."

When we think of train accidents, we often think of derailment, a train hitting a car, or a train hitting another train due to mechanical or human error. However, another type of train accident results in around 893 deaths per year in the United States: pedestrian train accidents. In 2021, 26% of all train-accident related deaths occurred at railroad crossings. 

These statistics paint a clear picture of how trains are both useful pieces of modern machinery and also a dangerous part of our urban landscape. Trains allow people to travel quickly and move goods between different parts of the country, but they are lethal in accidents involving pedestrians. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in pedestrian accidents involving trains, making it apparent that there is a strong need for increased caution and awareness of these accidents. On top of that, injured parties or individuals whose family members have been wrongfully taken from them need to know how they can receive compensation for these types of accidents.

In this article, the train accident attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group explore what causes train pedestrian accidents and what legal options are available to them. Here is what you need to know:

Texas Train-Pedestrian Accidents

While most probably think of train accidents involving cars, trains hitting pedestrians is unfortunately becoming just as common. 

In the state of Texas alone, there were 241 train-pedestrian collisions which resulted in 31 deaths and 80 serious injuries. Texas ranks as the state with the highest amount of train-pedestrian accidents in the country.

The Complexity of Train-Pedestrian Collisions

A train riding down the tracks.

There are a slew of common causes that result in pedestrians getting hit by trains, including:

  • The pedestrian stands too close to the edge of the platform and accidentally falls onto the tracks.
  • The pedestrian recklessly tries to cross the tracks or stand on them before the train reaches them.
  • The pedestrian slips and falls onto the tracks due to a hazard at the train station.
  • The train derails and hits nearby pedestrians.
  • The station lacks features preventing pedestrians from falling onto the tracks.
  • Train mechanical failures prevent the train from stopping at its designated stopping point.
  • The train conductor was distracted and operating at speeds that were too fast for the tracks they were on or the area they were in.
  • The train signals malfunctioned.
  • The conditions on the tracks were poor, such as broken tracks leading to derailment.

Injuries Caused by Train-Pedestrian Accidents

The simple act of falling onto the tracks itself can lead to minor injuries such as a sprained ankle, bruising, and minor scrapes. However, for individuals struck by a train, the injuries are much more catastrophic. Here are the most common train-pedestrian accident injuries:

Due to the nature of train-pedestrian accidents and the sheer size and power of a train, these injuries often completely alter a person’s life. Most individuals are unable to fully recover from their injuries and suffer debilitating disabilities such as paralysis. Due to these disabilities, they may not be able to return to work, causing an increased financial strain on them and their family.

Injured parties may be able to claim compensation for their injuries from the negligent party to ease the financial loss for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Emotional distress
El asesor legal presenta al cliente un contrato firmado con martillo y leyes legales.

Pedestrians have legal rights to gain compensation from the liable party after an accident. Multiple parties could potentially be liable, so it’s important to work alongside a pedestrian accident attorney to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve from the negligent party. Possible parties that may be responsible are:

Another individual: If the injured party was walking with someone who caused them to fall onto the tracks or in front of the train, that person can be held liable for their actions. In some cases, their level of responsibility may be increased to a criminal charge if there is evidence that they acted with malicious intent. 

The railroad company: The railroad company, the conductor, or the train station may be held responsible if there is evidence that they were negligent in their care for the train, the tracks, or the station. It is the responsibility of the railroad company to ensure that the premises, such as the loading platforms or the station itself, the train, and the tracks are all properly maintained and free of hazards.

If hazards such as missing rails, poor lighting, or improper safety signage exist, pedestrians have a higher risk of slipping and falling onto the tracks. The railroad company or the city that manages the transportation services would be held responsible for their negligence. A train accident attorney can help you determine which party is responsible for your case.

Maintenance crews: If a mechanical error caused the accident, the team in charge of maintenance may be held responsible. It is their job to complete every inspection to the best of their abilities and address any issues with the train or the tracks before the train goes back into operation. If the maintenance crew made a mistake that could have been avoided if more care had been given, then they would be negligent in their duty and therefore responsible for the accident.

Train Trespassing Accidents; Can I Still Receive Compensation?

The Federal Railroad Administration reports that one of the biggest causes of railroad pedestrian accidents is trespassing. On average, there are about 500 rail-related trespassing deaths each year in the United States. Trespassing on railroad property is extremely dangerous and is a misdemeanor in the state of Texas. 

Railroad companies have a duty to make people aware of private property and discourage them from trespassing by clearly marking where not to go on the property, such as through a “no trespassing” sign. Some railroad stations may have special security teams who walk the property and warn individuals looking to cross the tracks in illegal areas.

However, these areas must still follow all state and federal laws to ensure that they are safe for workers and those who are legally allowed to access them. For example, proper safety signage must be present, all rail cars must be properly parked, and all hazardous materials must be properly stored. 

While trespassing on railroad property is considered an illegal and dangerous activity, trespassing individuals still have rights. Trains still have to operate safely in areas where pedestrians are not supposed to be. For example, if a train conductor sees a pedestrian trying to cross the tracks in an area where they are not supposed to be, they still have to blow the whistle to warn the pedestrian of their presence. Trains also need to follow the speed limit for the areas they are in, and not speed to make up time in these areas. If it is found that a trespasser was hit and the proper measures were not taken to avoid an accident, such as following the speed limit and blowing a warning whistle, the injured party may still recoup some of the damages by filing a claim.

Immediate Steps After a Train-Pedestrian Collision

A cargo train and another empty track.

If you or a loved one was hit by a train as a pedestrian, there are steps you can take to avoid further injury and ensure that you can get the compensation you deserve for your injuries:

Seek Medical Attention

Most of the time, victims of pedestrian train accidents will not be able to take the normal steps that follow other accidents, such as exchanging contact information with the other party, taking photos of the accident, or filing a police report. Usually the injuries sustained in a train accident are severe enough to require hospitalization. In the worst cases, the victim may not have survived the impact. 

Seeking out medical attention after the accident will ensure that there is documentation of your injuries by healthcare professionals and that your injuries are treated properly. Medical records will be essential in showing the impact of the negligent party’s actions. 

Preserving Evidence

Make sure you have documentation of the following from your or your loved one’s accident:

  • All financial expenses and losses that stemmed from the accident.
  • Any other available evidence:
    • Police report
    • Photos of injuries
    • Photos of the accident
    • Medical records
    • Medical bills
    • Documentation of all time needed off from work to recover from your injuries
    • Receipts from other expenses related to the injuries from the accident

Be Careful When Speaking to Insurance Companies

The train’s insurance company may call you to get details on the accident. But beware—while they may seem caring and sympathetic on the phone, they are trying to get you to use language that would justify them giving you less money than your claim is worth. 

Always make sure you have a train accident attorney present when speaking with the insurance adjuster. Do not let them trick you into admitting fault, saying your injuries are not as severe as they could be, or anything else like that. Having an attorney present during this time will ensure that the insurance company cannot bully you into claiming fault that is not yours.

Watch What You Say On Social Media

Everyone is using social media to post about their lives. These channels are a way to keep loved ones in the loop as to what is happening in your world, from vacations to major life events. Whatever you do, do NOT share the details of your accident online. Doing so can lead to unnecessary scrutiny and may allow the at-fault party to claim that your injuries are not as bad as you say they are.

The Hernandez Law Group, P.C. highly recommends that you do not post anything online until after your claim has been resolved in court or through a settlement.

Consultation With a Texas Train Accident Lawyer

Un libro, un mazo y un par de escalas legales.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a train pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to compensation to cover medical expenses and damages that resulted from the accident. The train accident attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. are dedicated to representing the individuals of the DFW Metroplex, Abilene, and Amarillo, Texas in their pursuit of fair compensation. We handle the following steps for you:

  • Determining who the liable party/parties is/are.
  • Filing the claim.
  • Gathering the evidence.
  • Proving liability.
  • Building a solid case that can be used for a settlement in or out of court.
  • Handling communication with the insurance company.
  • Negotiating settlement.
  • Taking your case to court.

Our attorneys are strong advocates who do not rest until our clients recover the compensation they deserve. Whether that means negotiating the settlement outside of court or taking it to the judge, we do not back down. 

Choosing the Right Dallas Train Accident Attorney

With so many personal injury law firms to choose from, it can be overwhelming for victims to know which one to go with. Here are some things you can ask your potential attorney to determine if they are the best option for your case:

  •  Look up reviews for the train accident attorney you are considering using online.
  • Ask for references from the attorney.
  • Get to know them during the initial consultation.
    • Do they have experience with train-pedestrian accident cases?
    • What is their track record?
    • How long have they been representing pedestrian accident victims?
    • What are the outcomes they have achieved for cases like yours
    • Who is going to handle your case?
    • Are they willing to take your case to trial?

Negligence is the foundation for a train-pedestrian accident case. To establish the liable party as negligent, it must be shown that:

  • The defendant had a duty to the injured party.
  • The defendant breached their duty.
  • The breach was the cause of the accident and the injured party’s injuries.
  • The defendant owes the injured party damages.

What Damages Can Be Recovered From a Pedestrian Train Accident Case?

If it can be proven that the liable party was negligent in their duty, the injured party may receive the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of income
  • Property damages
  • Funeral expenses in cases of wrongful death
  • Loss of consortium in wrongful death cases

Get the Compensation You Deserve For Your Train Accident

Texas state law, legal system and justice concept with a wooden gavel and the Texan flag 3D illustration.

The train accident attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. have been a trusted legal source for victims of train pedestrian accidents in the Dallas, Amarillo, and Abilene areas since our founding. We have successfully recovered over hundreds of millions of dollars. We have a 98% success rate and are not afraid to take on a challenge. Contact our team today for more information on our train accident attorney services or to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to go over the facts of your case.

Train Collisions FAQs

Can I Sue for a Train-Pedestrian Collision?

Yes! The train accident attorneys at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. can help you prove the negligence of the responsible party so you get the compensation you deserve. We are more than happy to help you handle the insurance company and ensure that they do not try sneakily to get you to admit fault for the accident.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim if I’m Injured in a Train Collision?

In Texas, the statute of limitations for train accident lawsuits is two years after the date of the accident.

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