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Houston Railroad Accident Attorney

Passenger and freight trains transport people and cargo to and from destinations around the country as well as within metropolitan areas in which light rail is a mainstay of the public transportation system, for example Houston’s METRORail.

Accidents involving trains occur regularly. The Federal Highway Administration has reported that a train accident occurs once every two hours in the United States. People are killed and injured as a result and the accidents include derailments, crashes with other trains, collisions with trucks and cars at crossings, and trains striking pedestrians. In 2012, 273 people died in the United States, and 946 were injured in a total of 1,967 train accidents. If you’ve been injured in a similar incident, it’s important that you contact a Houston railroad accident attorney immediately.

How Train Accidents Happen

The common underlying causes of train accidents are insufficient protections for drivers and pedestrians, equipment failure, and operator error.

Insufficient Signs, Signals, Warnings, and Barriers

Crashes involving the Houston METRORail and other railroad lines have been attributed to pedestrians walking too close to the tracks or drivers making illegal turns and running red lights to cross the tracks. Lack of clear signs and signals have contributed to the problem.

Proper warnings and barriers are essential to the safety of drivers and pedestrians at train crossings. Leaving the decision to cross to a driver or pedestrian’s perception is to risk a serious crash, because trains appear to be further away than they actually are, often leading to misjudgment of the amount of time required to cross the tracks.

Equipment Malfunctions and Defects as a Cause of Train Accidents

In addition, malfunctioning equipment is at fault in many train accidents. These may be attributed to improper maintenance or a manufacturing or design defect. These are some examples:

  • Broken rails that cause derailments
  • Brake failure
  • Failure of warning lights, sounds, and barrier gates
  • Defective communication equipment
  • Missing, broken, or defective handrails in rail cars
  • Malfunctioning hand brakes

Operator Error

Negligence on the part of an engineer, conductor, or other railroad employee can be the cause of an accident from speeding, improperly switching tracks, failing to apply brakes on time, or allowing debris to obstruct a track. Common underlying causes of employee error include

  • operator distraction, such as cell phone use, texting, conversing with other workers;
  • operator impairment by alcohol or drugs;
  • operator fatigue.

A railroad worker who is injured on the job because of the negligence of an employer or another worker may be covered by FELA, the Federal Employees Liability Act. FELA applies to railroad workers not covered by Workers’ Compensation and allows them to sue their employer for their injuries when they can prove negligence. FELA allows railroad workers to recover money for economic damages and noneconomic losses, which include pain, suffering, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life, based on comparative negligence. This is best demonstrated with the help of an experienced FELA claims attorney, as railroads work hard to oppose these claims, and success is difficult to achieve without highly competent legal counsel.

Railroad Accident Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys in Houston, Texas

The Houston accident attorneys at the law firm of Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP, have extensive experience representing both railroad employees and members of the public who have sustained serious injuries in train accidents. With sixty years of combined experience and a record of millions of dollars in recoveries for injured clients, they are a top choice for anyone needing to pursue an injury or wrongful death claim against a railroad.

If you or a member of your family has been injured or killed due to railroad negligence, our attorneys are on call to speak with you and review the circumstances of the accident. There is no charge for the consultation, and you will never be billed for our legal services or expenses unless we win money for you. Call today, because the amount of time to file is limited by law.

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