On April 2, one man was killed as he and three other men jumped from a moving Union Pacific train in Texas. The men boarded the freight train in Austin and hopped off near Interstate 35, just north of the Texas State Technical College campus. The witnesses report that the man threw his belongings from the train prior to attempting to jump, but he slipped and fell between the train cars. The reported the incident at a nearby gas station. The day before, another man lost his life in a train incident in Austin. Before 10 p.m. on West 5th street, a man was struck by a Union Pacific train when he was on the tracks. Unfortunately, news reports of pedestrian-train accidents are not uncommon and they may lead to wrongful death claims.
Texas Pedestrian-Train Accidents
In 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration reported 445 pedestrian-train-related accidents in Texas. While some of these incidents were minor and involved few injuries, others, like the recent accidents above, led to fatalities. In 2016, there were 64 train accident fatalities. This may seem like only a few fatalities compared to the numbers associated with car accidents. However, 64 fatalities for a year in relation to train incidents is high.
Why Pedestrian-Train Accidents Occur
Many people may wonder how it is possible for so many train accidents to happen. After all, people can see a train coming, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many newer trains are much quieter than previous models, which means people do not realize trains are coming up on them as soon as they used to. The weather and environment also can keep oncoming trains hidden.
Trains move quickly and take a very long time to stop – more than a dozen football field lengths, in fact. That means once a conductor realizes there is someone or a vehicle on the tracks, it may be too late to avoid a collision.
Additionally, trespassing riders are a significant issue. People often hitch rides on freight trains for free transportation or a thrill. However, these trains are not made for rides, which means it is easy to slip or fall off.
Legal Options after Losing a Loved One in a Train Accident
If your loved one was killed in a train accident while trespassing on the train, your rights to recover may be limited. Railroad companies do not have many duties toward trespassers, except they must take measures to warn against trespassing. If your loved one was simply a pedestrian or motorist and was hit by a train, then you should work with a skilled New Braunfels wrongful death attorney to investigate the accident, learn about your rights, and determine your legal options. If your attorney determines the railroad company owed a duty of care toward your family member and was negligent in its actions, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for your loss.