Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case upholding a jury verdict in excess of $10 million. The case illustrates one of the many situations in which the victims of a Maryland train accident may be able to obtain compensation for the injuries or losses they sustained in the accident.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who was killed in a railroad-crossing accident. Evidently, the plaintiff’s husband was driving with a friend on a country road as they approached a set of railroad tracks. The evidence presented at trial showed that there was one black-and-white “RAILROAD CROSSING” sign. However, the plaintiff’s evidence also suggested that the intersection had become overgrown with vegetation, such that it was difficult to see the sign.
As the plaintiff’s husband approached the intersection, a train approached as well. It was disputed whether the train’s horn was sounded, but the train ultimately collided with the plaintiff’s husband’s vehicle. The plaintiff’s husband was killed in the accident, and the passenger was seriously injured. The plaintiff’s husband filed this case against the railroad company. The passenger filed a personal injury lawsuit against the train’s operator as well as the plaintiff’s husband, and they settled with both parties prior to trial. Thus, the plaintiff’s case proceeded without the passenger’s case.
After the jury heard all of the evidence from both parties, a verdict in favor of the plaintiff was returned in the amount of roughly $14.8 million. However, since the jury determined that the plaintiff’s husband was partially at fault, the damages award was reduced to $10.7 million after post-judgment interest was added. The railroad company appealed to a higher court.
The Appellate Opinion
On appeal, the railroad company made two arguments. First, it argued that federal law preempted the state law applied by the court on this specific issue, Essentially, the railroad argued that federal funds paid for the railroad crossing sign, and thus, federal law applied to the case. However, the court dismissed this claim, finding that there was contested evidence regarding whether federal funds were actually used to pay for the sign.
Second, the railroad argued that the plaintiff’s husband’s negligence should have precluded the plaintiff’s recovery. The court explained that the evidence was conflicting regarding the extent of the obstruction and whether the train’s horn was sounded, and thus, the jury was free to reject the railroad’s argument that the plaintiff’s husband was negligent to an extent to bar the plaintiff’s right to recover compensation for her loss.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Train Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a train or truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing victims and their families in all types of Maryland personal injury claims, including train accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Reverses Plaintiff’s Award in Bus Accident Case Based on Improper Jury Instruction, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 19, 2018.
Court Upholds Substantial Jury Verdict in Recent Truck Accident Case, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 4, 2018.