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A Kansas man who serves in the U.S. Army is one of the nation’s most recent train accident victims. The 25-year-old private was walking along railroad tracks in Topeka, listening to his headphones, when train crew members spotted him. Blasts of the train’s horn apparently went unnoticed and despite hitting the emergency brakes, the train hit the man.

Remarkably, the victim actually walked away from the scene, calling for a ride that took him to a nearby hospital, where he spent the night under observation. The local sheriff’s office announced that he sustained only minor injuries to his shoulder and leg. While the victim is no doubt grateful for this unprecedented outcome, he now faces charges for walking on the tracks without permission.

Common scenario

This military man is not alone, as a Duluth-area youth is facing similar charges in Minnesota related to an accident involving his dirt bike. In this case, a train struck the victim on railroad property, where the man was riding his bike. The Duluth man suffered far worse injuries to his leg and arm, but lived, only to discover he had been charged with trespassing./p>

Trespassing under Minnesota law

In Minnesota, walking along railroad tracks is legally deemed trespassing, which is a misdemeanor subject to penalties under the law. The reason for this law is that railroad companies don’t want people anywhere near their trains, whether they’re walking, hunting, fishing or playing.

Just because trespassing is illegal, this does not mean that every train accident victim is at fault simply because he or she chose to walk or ride near the tracks. On the contrary, even those who trespass may be able to recover for their injuries based on various factors related to the circumstances of their accident.

When railroad accidents occur, it’s in the victims’ best interests to turn to qualified railroad lawyers who can analyze the unique facts of the case and determine which law applies. 

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