Union Pacific Railroad Accidents
About Union Pacific
The Union Pacific Railroad is the largest in the United States—operating almost 32,000 track miles and employing almost 45,000 individuals. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, the railroad company operates tracks in 23 different states west of the Mississippi and has negotiated deals with other railroad companies to operate their own trains with their own employees on competing railroads' main tracks.
Union Pacific was first incorporated in 1862, under the Congress-mandated Pacific Railroad Act which provided for the construction of railroads from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean as a means to protect the states' Union during war. During the 1880s, the company went through several bankruptcies and title changes; however, in 1897, the company returned to its original Union Pacific Railroad name.
Today, Union Pacific owns and operates tracks in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee. In order to manage its vast infrastructure, Union Pacific is divided into 21 "service units," each of which are divided into subdivisions that cover units as large as 300 mile mainlines to 10 mile branch lines.
Timeline of Union Pacific Railroad Accidents
- November 1994 - A Union Pacific train derailment in San Antonio, Texas kills a bystander in a business neighboring the tracks. The accident sparked demands to reroute trains away from larger urban areas, and 11 years later, Texas Governor Rick Perry finally agreed to reroute trains away from large urban areas in the center of the state.
- April 2002 - An overheated axle bearing on a 100-car Union Pacific train causes a derailment in Kansas. Because the train stops on a wooden section of track, it catches fire and 6 almost-300,000 pound coal cars fall into the nearby creek. No one is seriously injured in the accident, but the cost to repair the damages totals well over $2 million.
- June 2004 - Union Pacific train collides with an idle BNSF train in Macdona, Texas. During the collision, a 90-ton tank car carrying liquefied chlorine is punctured and a toxic yellow cloud forms over the accident site. The Union Pacific train conductor and two nearby residents are killed as a result of the accident, and 43 other individuals are hospitalized. Property damage and cleanup costs exceed $7 million and the accident resulted in the Federal Railroad Administration forcing Union Pacific to sign a compliance agreement promising to rectify notable safety deficiencies discovered by railroad inspectors. Specifically, railroad managers had to undergo increased training and the number of railroad inspectors in the region was increased.
- September 2008 - Union Pacific freight train collides head-on with a Metrolink commuter train in L.A.'s Chatsworth district. Twenty five people died in the collision, and 135 others were injured. The accident was reportedly caused by the driver of the Metrolink train who ran through a red railway signal because he was distracted by texting.
- June 2009 - Union Pacific train derails west of Schulenberg, Texas, resulting in a serious chemical spill. Seventy-five nearby residents are evacuated from their homes, but no one is seriously injured in the incident.
- September 2010 - Union Pacific freight train in Fontana, California crashes into the back of a slow moving freight car going in the opposite direction on the same tracks. The force of the collision shoves the locomotive over the top of the rail cars, and the train conductor is trapped in the wreckage, resulting in the amputation of his arm.
- May 2012 - Union Pacific train in Atkins, Arkansas strikes and kills a woman driving in her Ford Explorer.
- June 2012 - First, 53 car Union Pacific train strikes parked rail cars in Los Angeles, causing 3 cars to derail and causing serious injury to the conductor. Later that month, two Union Pacific trains collide head-on in the Oklahoma Panhandle, triggering a diesel-fueled fireball that welds the two trains together. The conductor of one train and the engineers of both are killed in the accident. One train's conductor survives by jumping from the train moments before impact. The accident is still under investigation.
Union Pacific Accident FAQ
How many people are hurt in Union Pacific railroad accidents each year?
Although Union Pacific claims to put safety as its number one priority, railroad accidents involving passengers, workers, and others still occur. According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis, there were 2,519 reported railroad injuries and deaths in the United States from January 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020. 346 of those involved Union Pacific, and 65 were fatalities. People who are injured in these incidents deserve a chance at justice.
What are my rights if I’m injured as a Union Pacific worker?
Railroad workers are protected by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). Under FELA, Union Pacific is required to provide a reasonably safe place for its employees. Railway work is inherently dangerous, but failures to implement proper safety standards and acts of negligence or wrongdoing will give you the right to seek compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical care, and possibly more. Our team at Arnold & Itkin can talk to you about what you may be entitled to receive.
What should I do if I was injured as a passenger on a Union Pacific train?
If you were injured as a passenger, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Union Pacific and their representatives may try to contact you for a statement, or they may try to offer you a settlement. Before you sign anything, accept a check, or make a statement, talk to a legal professional who can advise you of your rights and options. You could be entitled to a significant amount of compensation, which would help you rebuild your life.
Hurt in a Train Accident Involving Union Pacific? Call (888) 493-1629.
Despite its storied history, Union Pacific’s safety record has been less than impeccable and many accidents, such as the ones detailed above, have been linked to them. If you or someone you love has been injured in such an accident, or if you have lost a family member, then you should not hesitate to seek out experienced legal representation. At Arnold & Itkin, we have been helping clients fight for justice since the beginning of our firm. Throughout the years, we have won billions in verdicts and settlements, including more than $1 billion recovered in 2017 alone.
If you would like to learn how our firm can stand up for you rights, you should not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. Call (888) 493-1629 to schedule a free case review with a member of our legal team.