A recent Amtrak crash in North Carolina involved a collision between the train and an oversized rig, resulting in the train’s derailment and 55 injuries to passengers. The truck’s driver, John Devin Black, has received multiple citations for traffic violations. Though no charges have been filed against Black as of this writing, representatives of Raleigh law enforcement have not yet ruled out the possibility as part of their continuing investigation. The train delrailment, which occurred on March 9, follows closely on the heals of the February 24 Metrolink accident in Los Angeles in which a truck/train collision was also responsible for 28 injuries and one death.
Whereas the truck drivers may bear some responsibility for the accidents, concerns have also been raised about the safety of rail infrastructure, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal of CT referring to railway crossings in the U.S. as reliant on “19th century technology.” Referring also to train accidents in New York and Washington DC, Blumenthal argued that the train system was in desperate need of modernization and safety updates.
At Hardy, Wolf & Downing, we hope to avoid a major train accident in our state. However, given that railroad safety problems appear to be a national issue, this may not be a disaster that we can avoid for long. If you find yourself injured in such a collision, you would be well-advised to consult a Maine accident lawyer from our firm to discuss your options for legal recourse.
Liability issues in a railroad crossing accident lawsuit
Liability issues regarding train accidents and injuries can be surprisingly complex, given both the many variables involved in such accidents and the intricacies of law related to train collisions.
In both the North Carolina and Los Angeles accidents, various parties have raised the possibility that the truck drivers involved may be to blame for the accidents, at least in part. In the North Carolina accident, there are questions about why the driver appears not to have followed accepted protocol, including making sure the rail route is clear and informing the rail dispatcher before attempting a crossing with an oversized truck or, in an emergency, calling a toll free number to reach the dispatcher, who can order any train to stop. In the case of the LA crash, two seriously injured parties have already filed suit against the truck driver and his employer.
However, given recent investigations concerning the danger posed by the site of the LA crossing itself, it is also possible that the town or local municipality responsible for its upkeep and/or Metrolink itself may also be liable for the accident or some part of it. The Oxnard station in Los Angeles had poor lighting and visibility problems and was among the worst in the state of California as far as its safety record.
Sen. Blumenthal, along with Sen. Charles Schumer of NY, are calling for funding to revamp the nation’s railway crossings in order to bring them up to modern safety standards because the problem is not typical only of the state of California.
How Hardy, Wolf & Downing can help
Attorneys from Hardy, Wolf & Downing can carefully sift questions of liability is such complex accidents in order to determine correctly the best way to approach a railroad crossing accident lawsuit for our Maine clients. Such a lawsuit may involve bringing charges against commercial vehicle drivers, their employers, local municipalities, or federal bodies in charge of the rail lines in question.
Our lawyers have a long track record of recovering sizable verdicts and settlements for the residents of Maine in connection to all kinds of accidents resulting in serious personal injury or wrongful death. To arrange a free legal consultation with a member of our team, please call us at 1-800-INJURED today.