On the afternoon of December 17, 2019, a cement truck crashed into an Amtrak train traveling through Liberty County, Texas. The crash occurred near the intersection of FM 1960 and County Road 621. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Amtrak train was traveling from Los Angeles to New Orleans. Captain Ken DeFoor of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office reported that only the truck driver was injured in the accident. The train was carrying 90 passengers when it was hit by the cement truck. ABC 13 stated that despite initial reports, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported the train did not derail during the crash.
This crash echoed a previous Liberty County crash in August of 2019, when a train headed from Los Angeles bound for Houston split an 18-wheeler truck while carrying 70 passengers. KHOU 11 reported that 19 people were injured in the accident, 18 of whom were transported to the hospital for minor injuries. KHOU 11 cited a tweet from the Texas Department of Public Safety that stated 17 passengers and the 18-wheeler truck driver were among the injured parties. A nearby neighbor of the track stated that she “thought the train came off the tracks and was going to hit [her] house,” and one of her trees was struck by debris from the impact, according to ABC 13. On this occasion, the Amtrak train did suffer derailment as a result of minor wheel damage from the collision. Texas DPS said that passengers suffered bumps on the head from when the train hit the brakes, and multiple people were transported to the Dayton Regional Medical Center.
A Statistical View of Train Accidents
As the decade closes in, a clearer picture emerges detailing trends in train crashes in the United States. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a department of the United States Department of Transportation, recorded a total of 1,902 train accidents in 2010. This number accounts for both freight and passenger railroad operations. Of these accidents, there were 1,333 derailments and 127 collisions, resulting in 110 nonfatal injuries and 8 fatalities across the country.
On a positive note, these numbers have decreased incrementally throughout the 2010s, with the total train accident count for 2019 to date at 1,429, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Of these accidents, there were 1,001 derailments and 82 collisions, resulting in 45 nonfatal injuries and 7 fatalities.
This positive trend in safety, however, is theorized by some to be at risk. Trains are becoming much longer, and train-length “data is not collected by the FRA regularly, and there are not regulations over the length of Class I freight trains.” Some freight trains “exceed three miles” in length, which raises various safety concerns, including: “difficulty maintaining brake pressure;” inability to “communicate via portable radio with the locomotive engineer;” “blocking emergency vehicles” at railroad crossings; and more catastrophic derailments.
Types of Compensation Available to Train Accident Victims in Texas
In negligence-based cases, individuals can recover compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Prescription costs;
- Loss of income;
- Loss of future earning capacity;
- Personal property damage;
- Physical impairment;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of companionship and society;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Other out-of-pocket expenses and non-financial losses.
Train-crash injuries can be financially and personally devastating. Individuals should seek the help of an experienced attorney when seeking to recover losses as a result of a train crash.
Contact the Houston Railroad Accident Lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP
Morrow & Sheppard LLP is equipped to represent train accident victims throughout Texas and nationwide. If you have been injured or lost a loved one and would like to speak with our experienced railroad accident lawyer, please call 800-489-2216, or request a free consultation online today.