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Train Accidents / Injuries Information Center

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Frequently Asked Questions about Train Accidents and Injuries

Q: What determines the legal responsibility a railroad owes someone injured on or around a train?

A: The rules governing a railroad's legal responsibility for accidents on and around a train depend upon the relationship of the injured person to the railroad. The duty or degree of care the railroad owes the injured person differs depending on whether he or she is an employee, passenger or unrelated third party, like a motorist or pedestrian.

Q: What legal responsibilities do railroads have to their passengers?

A: Because railroads are common carriers they owe their passengers the highest degree of care and vigilance. This increased responsibility of a railroad to its passenger for his or her safety may make recovery for injuries suffered while a passenger on a train easier to obtain than in other personal-injury situations, even if another passenger or some other third party was partially responsible for causing the injury.

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96% of train accidents and injuries occur at highway rail crossings.

Representation for Victims of Train Wrecks in South Texas

The personal injury law firm of Hartley Hampton, P.C., provides experienced representation for people injured in accidents at train crossings or while riding as a passenger on light rail, local trains, or commuter trains. Attorney Hartley Hampton has nearly 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer representing people injured due to negligence, misconduct, or criminal acts.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a train accident, please contact our Houston law offices to schedule a no-cost consultation.

Train Accidents and Injuries - An Overview

Railroads continue to play a vital role in the American economy. While down from historical numbers, more than one-hundred-thousand miles of rail line still stretch throughout the country. While passenger use of railroads has declined over time, rail transportation continues as a popular high-volume, low-cost and potentially energy-efficient method to ship freight and goods.

The ongoing use and popularity of America's rail system is not without cost. Each year thousands of railroad workers suffer injuries and death while engaged in work-related duties. Railroad passengers also continue to be injured and killed while traveling by train, though declining usage has resulted in an overall decrease in the number of passengers injured. The most shocking number of non-work-related train accidents and injuries occur at railroad/highway crossings. According to Operation Lifesaver®, a train-safety organization, a train strikes a vehicle or a pedestrian at a rail crossing approximately every 2 hours in the United States. These 12 daily incidents have the potential of producing catastrophic injuries and deaths.

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Typical Train Accidents

The weight and speed of a train are no match for a motor vehicle or pedestrian. According to the Federal Rail Administration (FRA), 2006 brought almost 400 deaths in vehicle-train collisions and over 500 trespasser deaths. Lawsuits for injuries and deaths caused by trains hitting cars or people are complex, both legally and factually. The law can vary from state-to-state and depending upon the unique circumstances of the accident. If you are the victim of such an accident or if you lost a loved one in a collision with a train, the advice of an experienced train-accident attorney is definitely in your best interest.

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Protection of FELA Benefits

Most railroad workers who suffer from work injuries or occupational diseases are protected by a century-old federal compensation program established by the Federal Employers' Liability Act, known popularly as FELA. In the early days of the US railroad industry, the numbers of work-related deaths, injuries and diseases were appalling and Congress intended FELA to be liberally construed for the broad protection of rail employees.

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Railroad FELA Defense Tactics

The investigation process in a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) claim is an opportunity for the railroad employer's defense team to gather helpful information in the defense against the FELA claim. Claim agents, railroad officers and sometimes even attorneys may approach the injured railroad worker during the pre-trial investigation. Unfortunately, some of the information they attempt to gather may be damaging to the injured worker's case. An injured railroad worker would be wise to consult with an experienced FELA attorney before talking to any representative of the railroad.

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Railroad Safety Obligations to Passengers

Railroads have heightened legal responsibility for the safety of their passengers. The zone of safety for which railroads are accountable to passengers extends from the depot to the waiting platform to the interior of the train itself and includes boarding and exiting. If you were injured at any time during your rail passenger experience, a train-accident attorney can advise you about what legal solutions you may have.

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The Houston, Texas, law firm of Hartley Hampton, P.C., serves businesses and individuals in communities throughout south Texas in areas such as Bellaire, Baytown, Pasadena, La Porte, Alvin, Pearland, Lake Jackson, Conroe, the Woodlands, Tomball, Kingwood, League City, Humble, Galveston, Clear Lake, Friendswood, Texas City, Katy, West Houston, Orange, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Victoria, Corpus Christi, Austin, San Antonio, Texas Gulf Coast and Dallas.

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