A total of 43 survivors and family members of those either injured or killed in an incident during a 2012 parade in Midland, Texas have filed suit against Union Pacific Railroad for negligence.
The incident happened when a Union Pacific freight train slammed into the flatbed trailer that the victims were on at the time of the accident.
The plaintiffs in the case allege that Union Pacific saying the railroad knew an estimated 10 months before the collision occurred of a defect in the track detection circuitry. This defect caused a delay in the activation of warning lights, bells and a crossing gate. It was because of this defect and an additional issue of a reduced crossing warning time that had been set by railroad technicians that was in violation of state guidelines that was the cause of the horrific accident.
Just prior to the court date set on January of this year, 26 of the survivors and families of victims opted to settle with Union Pacific for an undisclosed amount. A judge dismissed the remaining case in February. Three widows appealed the dismissal to the 11th Court of Appeals in Texas. By law, Union Pacific must file a response by December 21st.
Though the railroad acknowledges the tragic nature of the collision, it has denied any fault in the case. The state of Texas has a 30 second warning rule, whereas the federally mandated time is 20 seconds or more. Federal law supersedes mandates made by a state.
The truck driver that had been pulling the float in Midland on the day of the fatal accident said in a deposition that if had had just nine seconds of warning , in accordance with a 30-second state mandated warning, the gate arm would have come down in front of the semi-truck, rather than having it come down behind the cab, and he would have been able to stop in time and saved the lives of those on the float when the train struck the last 39 inches of the flatbed going 62 mph.
The widows insist that the case is not about money, but acknowledgement by the railroad of their fault in the matter.
Time will tell whether or not the railroad will be found negligent in this case. Certainly the case of these widows is tragic, and their ordeal is far from over after the loss of their loved ones. When facing such a situation, having an attorney who has the experience and knowledge regarding such liability cases is essential.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving train, call our offices today. Before you sign a statement, or settle with any insurance company, it is a good idea to get legal representation without delay. Our attorneys have years of experience in the Dallas area and Texas state courts. When you call we will sit down to discuss the specifics of your case. Your initial consultation and legal analysis are free. Contact us today.