Articles Posted in Train Accident

Earlier this month, a Virginia appellate court issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case that was brought by the wife of a man who was killed when he was struck by a train. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss how the “last clear chance doctrine” may allow recovery for a plaintiff whose own negligence placed him in a dangerous situation. Ultimately, the court held that a defendant who is able to avoid an accident but fails to do so may be held liable in some circumstances.

Train TracksThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s husband was walking along a set of railroad tracks, listening to music on his phone, when a passing train struck him. The man was instantly killed. His wife, the plaintiff, filed a wrongful death case against the company that operated the train, as well as against the train’s engineer and conductor. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants saw that her husband was dangerously close to the tracks, and they should have brought the train to a stop before it struck him.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s husband’s own negligence prevented the lawsuit from moving forward. Normally, in Virginia personal injury cases, under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if an accident victim is even partially at fault for the accident resulting in their injuries, the accident victim will not be permitted to recover damages. However, the plaintiff argued that under the last clear chance doctrine, the defendants should be held liable for failing to avoid the accident.

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Earlier this month, a Nevada court denied a motion filed by a trucking company for a new trial after the court determined that the company’s driver was responsible for a 2011 accident that killed six people, including the driver of the truck. According to one local news source, the court ordered the trucking company to pay roughly $4.5 million in damages.

railroad-crossing-1470982The Truck Driver Slams into a Moving Amtrak Train

The fatal accident occurred back in 2011, in Nevada’s high desert, near the intersection of Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 95. Evidently, the truck driver was driving an empty truck when he approached a railroad crossing. Evidence showed that the crossing was marked and that the engineer on the train was engaging the train’s whistle prior to reaching the crossing. However, the truck driver failed to slow down in time and ended up crashing into the second car of the train. The impact between the semi-truck and the train killed the truck driver, the train’s engineer, and four passengers aboard the train.

It also came out in evidence that the truck driver began to apply the brakes about 300 feet prior to the crossing, but he was still unable to stop in time. The National Transportation Safety Bureau conducted an investigation into the fatal accident and determined that the cause was an inattentive truck driver with a history of speeding violations, as well as the fact that the truck he was driving had faulty brakes.

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Earlier last month, a state supreme court heard a case involving the tragic death of a young man who was killed by a train when he attempted to cross a pair of railroad tracks. In the case, Gonzalez v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, the plaintiff was the mother of the young man who was killed. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the railroad, alleging that the company’s negligence was the cause of her son’s death.

train-tracks-1223064The Facts of the Case

At around one in the afternoon, the plaintiff’s 13-year-old son, Efrain, approached a set of railroad tracks that crossed the road. There was an eastbound track and a westbound track. According to the court’s written opinion, Efrain waited for the eastbound train to pass and then began to cross the tracks. However, the westbound train quickly approached and struck Efrain, killing him instantly.

Efrain’s mother filed suit against the railroad, arguing that the company was negligent in having the two trains cross the road on separate tracks so close together in time. She argued that since the extremely loud noise of the first train passing drowned out the noise from another approaching train, her son would not have been able to know that a second train was approaching.

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