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When Are Railroads Liable for Children Injured on Railroad Property?

Liability for Children Who Were Injured By Trains

It is a common phenomena among children to be attracted to trains, and many times their curiosity can lead them to playing around trains and railroad tracks. Obviously, this curiosity could lead to train accident that injures or kills a child who may cross the path of a train at the wrong time. Railroad property owners, railroad companies, and their employees understand this phenomena, and they are expected to take all reasonable steps to avoid accidents involving children by whatever means necessary.

Railroad companies have a duty to keep children away from railroad tracks, and if they encourage children to play on the tracks, whether directly or indirectly, they create a liability for themselves. For example, they have a duty to keep children away from the railroad tracks whenever possible and take evasive action when they see children playing on the tracks. In this article, we'll discuss a railroad industry's responsibilities regarding children and how they could be help liable for accidents involving children.

Questions answered on this page:

  • When is a railroad company liable for train accidents involving children?
  • How can a railroad company take evasive action to avoid accidents involving children?
  • How does the law regard children in the area of trespassing?
  • How can a lawyer help if my child was injured or killed by a train?

When is a Railroad Company Liable?

As mentioned before, children have a natural attraction to train tracks, and railroad companies are aware of this phenomena. With that knowledge, they are expected to take whatever actions necessary to deter children from playing on or around railroad tracks. If a railroad company encourages children to play around railroad tracks, whether directly or indirectly, they can be held liable if there is an accident. Many companies understand the importance of this issue, but some companies don't do what is necessary to keep children away.

Grossman Law Offices once litigated a case where the railroad company was found liable after a train accident that injured a child. With this particular case, the accident occurred at a railroad track in Garland, TX that was located between an elementary school and a neighborhood. Many children from the neighborhood would cut across the railroad tracks to go to school because it was quicker that walking on the sidewalk that circled the neighborhood to the school. The children would enter through a break in the fenced area that was created to help city workers reach a particular encasement. The bus engineer knew about the children actively crossing the railroad because he would playfully sound the train's horn for them, and he even knew some of them by name. Even with the knowledge that children would constantly play around the tracks or walk across them to get to school, the railroad company did nothing to discourage the children from coming onto the property.

Given their knowledge of the situation and their failure to correct the issue, the children were considered to be permissive trespassers. Think of it this way, if someone were to come on your property multiple times and you did nothing to get rid of them, you are basically giving them unwritten consent to be there. They might be trespassing on your property, but you did nothing to keep them off the property which makes them a permissive trespasser. You could even be held liable if that person were to get injured on your property. The same concept applies to railroad companies when they don't deter children from playing on railroad tracks.

Children as Trespassers Under Texas Law

When a child is injured or killed after being struck by a train while walking or playing on railroad tracks, the train company will try to avoid liability by claiming the child was trespassing, and the child should have known he or she shouldn't have been there in the first place. They will even go so far as to blame the parents.

However, under Texas law, the Attractive-Nuisance Doctrine states that a possessor of property, like a railroad company, owes a trespassing child the same duty it owes to someone who was invited onto the property. It defines a child as one who is too young to understand the dangers of his or actions when on certain properties. While a particular age distinction is not specified, the typical age that is applied in these situations is usually around 12 years of age. Essentially, under this doctrine, railroad companies and their employees can be held liable for accidents that injure or kill a child if they did not take evasive action to eliminate a child's access to the property.

The Train Accident Attorneys of Grossman Law Offices Can Help

In the event of a train accident, the railroad company will fight to determine they were not liable, and you need a skilled, knowledgeable attorney handling your case. If one of your children suffered an injury or death as a result of a train accident, we can help you obtain justice over this horrible loss. Our record in handling personal injury and wrongful death claims is stellar, and our history of serving clients in the decades. Our experienced, train accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices, based in Dallas, TX, are here to help you through this difficult process. For a free consultation or help in answering any questions, call us at 1-855-326-0000.

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