Train Accidents

Houston Railroad Accident Lawyers

Improperly maintained tracks, mechanical failure, and driver inexperience can result in a catastrophic train or railroad accident. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to receive compensation under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.

Rail is part of the fabric of life in Houston. Because of its Texas Gulf Coast location, Houston is a major American shipping hub and rail is a significant piece of the city’s transportation economy. According to the Greater Houston Partnership, about 2,200 trains travel through the city each week on its network of freight rail lines that includes 14 mainline tracks.

The prevalence of freight rail in the Houston area also means thousands of rail employees work around trains, tracks, crossings, heavy rail equipment, or hazardous cargo every day. Working conditions can be inherently dangerous for employees of railroads or depots. Because of a train’s massive size in comparison with a person, an accident involving a train usually results in very serious or fatal injuries.

A rail worker injured in a train accident may suffer multiple injuries that include any of the following:

  • Mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury
  • Crushed or amputated limbs
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord damage, including paralysis
  • Burns
  • Toxic chemical exposure
  • Disfiguring lacerations

When you have been injured, or a loved one has been killed, in an accident involving a train or railroad, the Federal Employers’ Liability Act says that you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or losses. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to receive compensation for your past and future:

  • Medical costs
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Phystical pain
  • Physical limitations
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish

The Houston train accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. have significant experience representing injured workers to obtain the monetary compensation that helps them move forward with their lives following a debilitating injury. We understand how claims work under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act and can use that knowledge to fight for the maximum available compensation for your injury.

Federal Laws Affecting Injured Rail Workers

Most workers who get injured on the job can turn to workers’ compensation programs to cover their medical care, temporary or permanent disability, vocational retraining, and other rehabilitation necessities without having to prove that their employers were at fault. The trade-off for receiving workers’ compensation benefits is that most workers can’t sue their employers for damages not covered by workers’ compensation when their injuries were caused by the employer’s negligence.

However, when a rail worker is hurt in an accident, he or she is unable to turn to workers’ compensation for help covering medical costs or wages lost to physical or mental impairment. Instead, he or she may have the option of suing a negligent employer through two sets of federal laws designed to protect railroad employees.

Federal Employers’ Liability Act

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act, or FELA, is a law enacted in 1908 that allows a railroad worker to sue his or her employer for negligence in causing work-related injuries. The statute applies to “common carriers by rail,” which under 45 U.S. Code §57 can include any employer involved in the “management and operation of the business” of a railroad.

FELA essentially sets safety standards for railroads, rail yards, and other rail-related workplaces. Under FELA, rail employers are required to provide reasonably safe workplaces. When they fail in that duty, they may be considered negligent.

Some common examples of negligence that may give rise to a FELA claim include:

  • Failure to provide proper safety gear and equipment
  • Failure to properly maintain equipment
  • Failure to inspect the workplace for hazards and to correct hazards when discovered
  • Inadequate training or supervision of employees
  • Failure to comply with safety rules and regulations
  • Requiring employees to work unreasonable hours or meet unreasonable quotas

In a FELA claim, an employee must prove that his or her employer was negligent in causing an injury.

Federal Safety Appliance Act and Boiler Inspection Act

The Federal Safety Appliance Act and Boiler Inspection Act provide additional recourse for injured rail workers to seek compensation from an employer for work-related injuries. Unlike FELA, which requires a worker to prove negligence, the FSAA and BIA apply a stricter standard to railroads and allow workers to seek compensation for certain kinds of accidents even when the employer was not negligent.

You may have a claim under FSAA if you were injured in an accident caused by the failure of:

  • Hand and air brakes or parts of the train’s braking system
  • Running boards
  • Grab irons
  • Steps or ladders
  • Couplers

You may have a claim under the Boiler Inspection Act for injuries caused by unsafe conditions on locomotives.

Common Types of Rail Worker Accidents

A railroad crossing collision isn’t the only way someone might be injured in an accident involving a train. Some other common types of train accidents that might be caused by negligence include:

  • Derailments — Improper maintenance of a train or railroad tracks may cause a train to derail, which can injure workers on the train or nearby.
  • Head-on collisions — When two trains collide on a set of tracks because of improper signaling or switching, the results can be catastrophic for rail workers.
  • Hazardous materials spills — Hazardous materials or toxic chemicals may spill and cause injuries to workers in the vicinity when a freight train carrying those materials derails or is involved in a collision.
  • Heavy equipment accidents — When equipment is not properly secured or maintained, serious injuries may result.
  • Failed couplings — When the couplings that link train cars to an engine or to each other fail, a car may break away from the train and injure rail workers.
  • Collisions with rail workers — When a train hits a rail worker who is on the tracks, the results may be fatal or permanently disabling.
  • Rail crossing accidents — When warning systems that should be in place at rail crossings either don’t exist or malfunction, the owner or operator of the rail line or train may be liable to compensate injured workers for their injuries and other damages.
  • Unsecured footholds or grab irons — A very common type of accident involves footholds or grab irons that aren’t properly secured. When a rail worker falls as a result, he or she often may suffer broken limbs or back injuries that require surgical repair.

However, amendments to FELA and case law over the years have extended the ability to make FELA claims to nearly all types of rail employees who are injured in work-related accidents. For example, office workers who are injured by unsafe conditions in a rail company office building also may be able to sue a negligent rail employer under FELA.

Determining Liability in Railroad Accidents

Liability in train and railroad accidents can be complex. As a rail worker, you may have to sue your employer for negligence in causing your injury in order to recover compensation for your losses. However, depending on the type of accident in which you were injured, you may only have to prove that your injuries were caused by a defect in some part of the train.

Because of the nuances of federal laws governing work-related rail accidents, it’s important to seek the help of a skilled Houston train accident lawyer to help you pursue your claim for compensation. The attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. have experience handling cases involving injured rail workers, know all of the relevant laws, and how to investigate train accidents and secure vital evidence in the wake of a collision or derailment.

Experienced Representation For Your Train Accident Case

The Krist Law Firm, P.C. has more than 27 years of experience with catastrophic personal injury cases, including train and rail accidents. We have represented countless people who suffered serious injuries through the negligence of others and obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements or verdicts on behalf of clients.

In the aftermath of a work-related train or railroad accident, it’s important to move quickly to collect and preserve crucial evidence. The Krist Law Firm, P.C. has the skill and resources to investigate these types of accidents and to present strong arguments why you deserve compensation for your injuries.

We offer a free initial case evaluation and charge no fees unless we obtain compensation for your injuries, so there’s no risk when you contact us about your case. Call us today at or use the contact form below to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated Houston train accident lawyers.