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Operation Lifesaver: An Initiative Created to Help Reduce Train Accidents and Spread Awareness of the Dangers Associated With Railroads

Operation Lifesaver is an initiative that began in 1972 to lessen the likelihood of railroad crossing accidents. In 1977 Texas Operation Lifesaver became a part of the national organization.

in this article we'll look at the operation lifesaver initiative and explain how that impacts train accident cases.


Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is the Trespasser Law?
  • How does "attractive nuisance" factor into a train accident case?
  • How does "attractive nuisance" apply to railroads?
  • What exactly is Constant Trespassers Upon a Limited Area (CTULA)?

What is the purpose of Operation Lifesaver?

Operation Lifesaver's primary goal is to educate the public in general about the dangers of railroad related accidents and how they can be avoided. Operation Lifesaver is participated in by many, but not all of the railroad companies that operate in the United States and Canada. Operation Lifesaver will give presentations usually in elementary schools near railroad tracks, to educate students about the dangers of trains.

Just about all train accidents occur when a person is crossing the train tracks; whether on foot, in a car, bicycle or another vehicle. Some occur at designated train crossings, but not all. Most people don't realize that crossing a railroad track, anywhere other than an official crossing, is considered trespassing. A lawsuit involving the injury of a trespasser tend to be more difficult, but not impossible.

Trespasser Law in Texas

In Texas, in most circumstances, a land owner owes very little duty to a general trespasser. A trespasser is someone who enters another person's property without a legal right. The only duty the land-owner owes them is to not intentionally harm them. Texas law imposes some duties on landowners, including the railroad company, when the trespasser is a child of "tender years" (generally a child under the age of 14). Under Texas law this is the doctrine of attractive nuisance. The Standard in the railroad industry also imposes a duty on railroads to a designated group of trespassers that are known as "Constant Trespassers Upon a Limited Area" (CTULA), discussed below.

Attractive Nuisance

Attractive nuisance is a legal term in Texas that applies to young trespassers drawn to something that is dangerous, but alluring. Attractive nuisance is a theory of liability where a landowner may be held liable for an injury to a child. To prove up attractive nuisance there must be a highly dangerous artificial condition on the land that the land-owner knows about, and is aware that children are likely to trespass. This is because the danger is not recognizable to the child because of his age (usually age 13 and under), and that the landowner failed to eliminate the danger to the child.

An example of this would be a swimming pool with no fence built on completely private property, left unattended and adjacent to an elementary school. It would be trespassing for the kids to go to the pool, and could be dangerous if they are not good swimmers. On a very hot Texas day, it sure would be tempting for a young child to jump into the cool water. In this scenario, the landowner owes a duty to the children to protect them from the dangers of the pool. It would not be difficult for the landowner to know that children can easily access the pool. He should recognize the danger of drowning and it would not be overly difficult or expensive to build a fence around the pool to keep the kids out.

How Does Attractive Nuisance Apply to Railroads?

Any parent of a young boy or girl will tell you kids are amazed and enthralled by trains. Many lack the necessary fear, though. Children will approach trains and play near the tracks, especially when they are in neighborhoods or near schools. The danger of a child being killed or maimed by a train is extremely high. The railroad companies have the responsibility to reduce or eliminate the risk to children. While participating in Operation Lifesaver is a start, there is still more to do to ensure that children are safe near train tracks. In areas where the railroad companies should reasonably know children will be near the track, they have an obligation to enforce no trespassing policies. Railroad companies can build and maintain fences on both sides of the tracks if necessary, and maintain its property in a safe manner.

Constant Trespassers Upon a Limited Area (CTULA)

CTULAs are another type of trespasser to whom the railroad companies owe a duty of care. They do not have to be a child of "tender years". An example of a CTULA would be someone who crosses the train tracks that pass between a neighborhood and a school, a park, or a supermarket. These are in areas where there are not formal crossings with lights, bells and automatic crossing arms. If there is a "beaten path" to and from the tracks, the railroad companies will owe a duty to the CTULA to make sure the crossing is reasonably safe. The railroad company can put up fences to discourage these crossings. It is preferable that the fences are on both sides of the tracks, but not required. A fence running down one side of the track would discourage the average pedestrian from crossing the tracks as they would still have to go around the fence to get to the school, park, or store.

Call Grossman Law Offices

Many attorneys do not have the expertise to understand the complexity of train accident cases. Getting around the hurdles associated with trespassing in these cases can be difficult. The attorney you choose is vital in a successful lawsuit. Grossman Law Offices has the experience that you need - call us toll free at 855-236-0000.


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