In 2016, two trains collided together in the Texas town of Panhandle. The accident left one employee of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway injured and three others dead. In addition to these tragic losses, the freight train collision caused a massive fire and a noxious black smoke cloud that authorities forced residents in a nearby town to evacuate. But with all the safety regulations and precautions in place, how could such a terrible accident happen?
The two trains ended up on the same track heading towards each other, and the director of public affairs for the railroad conducted a full investigation to figure out how this happened. After a thorough investigation, a report concluded that the train accident started with a missed signal, ultimately concluding human error as one of the trains had passed through a yellow warning signal without slowing down.
Train Crashes Ruin Lives
Surviving a train crash would be a miracle, as accidents of this nature usually result in catastrophic injury and death. The Panhandle incident left behind heartbroken families and friends of the deceased – and all this anguish was fully preventable.
Congress has mandated that positive train control (PTC) technology can be used to prevent train crashes alike the Texas Panhandle accident. The technology uses GPS, radio, and computers to monitor train positions. It can also slow down a train in the event it has too much speed. A technology as lifesaving as this should be the industry standard and be implemented on every train. However, trains to continue operate without PTC, and train accidents continue to occur.
Train accidents commonly occur in the form of train derailments, collisions with other trains or with other vehicles at railroad crossings. Train collisions like this can happen because of the negligence of railroad engineers or companies that improperly or insufficiently maintain trains or train crossings. Sometimes, it is due to conductor fatigue, inadequate railroad markings and crossing markings, locomotive speeding, and other avoidable mistakes. Often trains are inadequately maintained, or the proper security and safety standards are neglected by operators and owners, which makes these massive machines even more dangerous.
Train Accidents are More Common than You Think
As preventable as train accidents are, they may become even more common in the future. Industry standards have allowed trains to become longer, which raises significant safety concerns for operators, employees, passengers, pedestrians, and other bystanders. Longer trains will not have the same reaction time as shorter trains, as they take longer to stop or slow down and prevent a collision if there is an emergency or obstacle on the tracks. And trains carrying hazardous materials like industrial chemicals or diesel fuels are the most worrisome of all.
If you or someone you know has experienced a personal injury or killed because of a railroad accident, an experienced attorney can help litigate your case and seek compensation for your losses. Our staff and attorneys at Williams Hart & Boundas can help you receive the compensation you deserve from the preventable catastrophe of a train accident or collision.
Williams Hart & Boundas partners Jim Hart and Sean McCarthy joined fellow Houston plaintiffs’ attorney Carlos Leon as co-counsel on a wrongful death case in El Paso, Texas, that resulted in an outstanding $13M verdict. The lawsuit was filed by The Leon Law...