Railroad Company Agrees to $6 Million Settlement in Fatal Illinois Train Crash

March 19, 2012

777628_railroad_crossing.jpgThe family of a 26-year-old Chicago dance instructor killed in a tragic Illinois train accident will receive $6 million in a wrongful death lawsuit brought against the Illinois Central Railroad Company. The lawsuit claimed that the railroad crossing signals and warning lights were not working properly at the time of the accident. After just one day of trial testimony, the railroad company admitted full liability and agreed to the settle the case.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting the details of the railroad crash that happened at the University Park crossing in April 2010. The victim was driving to her Lincoln Park home after a dance competition when she was hit by a high-speed Amtrak train. Video from the crash obtained during the discovery process shows that the crossing lights, bells, and gates were not functioning when the deadly collision happened. A Federal Railroad Administration investigation found that a maintenance crew turned the warning signals off while making repairs to the crossing earlier in the day, then neglectfully failed to turn them back on once the work was completed.

This is the type of avoidable collision that our Chicago railroad accident lawyers work zealously to prevent. The Federal Railroad Administration estimates that at least 3,000 train accidents occur every year, and at least 1,000 of these accidents are deadly. Railroad collisions frequently result in serious injuries or death because of the significant weight of the carrier and the high rate of speed at which trains typically travel.

Railroad accidents involve many complex legal issues and it is important to contact an experienced train accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident in order to protect your legal rights. The law holds railroad companies to the highest standard of care and a claim can be brought against the train company whose negligence contributes to an accident involving another train or motor vehicle.

Generally, in order to hold potentially liable parties responsible in a wrongful death action, it must be proved that the defendants failed to comply with their duty of care and their negligence resulted in serious injuries or death. Railroad companies are regulated by federal and state laws, which require that they maintain properly functioning safety signals and warning lights. In a case of noncompliance involving a federal or state safety law, courts will often find the railroad company absolutely liable for the harm that results without requiring proof of fault. Compensation may be available for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of income.

Although railroad companies are held to a strict standard of care, drivers and pedestrians also need to use caution when approaching a railroad crossing. The law varies to some extent depending on the state, but Illinois requires that drivers stop at least 15 feet from the tracks of a railroad crossing when a signal indicates that a train is approaching. Train accidents involving motor vehicles or pedestrians are almost always catastrophic and every possible safety measure should be taken in order to prevent deadly harm.

Our experienced Illinois train accident lawyers fully understand the complexities involved with proving liability in a railroad collision case. There is a statutorily limited period of time in which you can file a train accident claim, and special notice of the claim may need to be given where a government-owned railroad is at fault. In order to protect your right to possible compensation, it is important you contact one of our train accident attorneys immediately after an accident if you or a loved one suffered serious injuries.