Month: December 2017

American Railroads and Safety

Railroads have played a long and historically important role in the expansion and construction of America. Although new forms of transportation have replaced some of the need for traveling by railroad, transportation by train remains an inexpensive and convenient alternative that many still use for daily commutes, vacation trips and scenic rides crisscrossing the U.S. Railroads also remain one of the main methods of transporting freight and products throughout the country. One of the most common misconceptions people have is that railroads are safer than other forms of transportation. This couldn't be further from the truth.

The Federal Railroad Administration or FRA, the government agency responsible for enforcing rail safety regulations, reports that approximately 3,000 train accidents occur each year in the US. Many of these accidents injure numerous people and fatality rates near 1,000 people per year. There are many forms of railroad accidents, but some of the most common include train and vehicle collisions at rail crossings, derailments and fires. Some of the causes of train accidents include:

  • Conductor error
  • Mechanical or electrical malfunction
  • Poorly maintained tracks
  • Rail signal failure
  • Automobile driver error

In Texas alone, there are more than 60 railroads and multiple agencies and organizations designed to monitor and enforce rail safety regulations. Despite the efforts, railroad accidents are a routine occurrence and a majority of the accidents involve rail and roadway intersections. Be they passenger trains or freight cars, train accidents have a high potential for causing severe and catastrophic injuries and in many cases, these accidents could have been avoided.

Texas Train Safety Agencies The Texas Department of Transportation participates in the FRA's Rail State Safety Participation program under 49 CFR Part 212 to protect public safety and prevent train accidents. Other rail safety agencies in Texas include the Safety Oversight Agency, The Rail Division and the National Transportation Safety Board. Unfortunately train accidents still regularly occur, and if you have been involved in a railroad accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation by filing a personal injury claim.

Texas law also mandates roadway regulations for driver conduct relating to train crossings. Drivers must always yield to the right of way of rail cars and motor vehicles are prohibited from crossing rail intersections if a train is visible. It is also a traffic violation to avoid crossing gates. As with all traffic violations, these train and vehicle regulations are strictly enforced, but the possibility for error or negligence still remains. For example, overgrown vegetation can obscure signs and signals or gates could malfunction. When this is the case, it is best to have an attorney investigate the specific crossing to see if any rail safety regulations have been violated.

Due to the number of enforcement agencies, you can expect a thorough and exhaustive investigation of your train related accident. These regulatory bodies will do everything in their power to shift blame away from conductors and poor maintenance procedures, especially in cases involving auto accidents. It is highly recommended that you have a competent and experienced personal injury attorney assist you in your claim process. Having legal assistance can help you decipher the intricate and often complicated regulations involved in train safety guidelines and can greatly reduce your risk of being undercompensated.

Working with the Firm The Ferguson Law Firm, P.C. can be of great benefit to your claim process. We have more than 40 years of combined experience and have recovered compensation for our clients in the tens of millions. If your accident was caused by the negligence of a train conductor or the failure of railroad agencies to maintain rail tracks or road signals, our firm can help determine the extent of negligence as well as who should be held accountable. We take a personal interest in every case and do our best to investigate all aspects of your accident. If you would like to discuss your case with an attorney from our firm, fill out an online case evaluation or contact the firm today.