Articles Posted in Train Accident

“The worst rail disaster in North America in more than two decades” is the statement being used to describe last Saturday’s horrific train accident that presumably killed over 20 people and has left even more missing in a small Quebec town. Reuters.com highlights the accident, stating that the parked freight train hauling 72 tanker cars of crude oil derailed and slid downhill from the town of Nantes and into Lac-Megantic. The cars exploded upon impact and severely damaged the area.

The report released that the derailment may have occurred because of a fire that broke out on one of the locomotives in Nantes after the engineer had left for the night. The town’s fire department arrived to extinguish it and in the process, shut down the engine to minimize fire risk. Once the engine was turned off, however, the locomotive’s air brakes were no longer powered and gradually lost pressure.

A train accident attorney at our firm learned the owner of the train is the chairman of Montreal, Main & Atlantic Railway (MMA). He is also the president of Rail World Inc., a privately owned rail management and investment firm in Chicago, in which MMA is affiliated. The question at play for determining which claims he will have to face against the railway is whether or not negligence took part in the accident. This includes whether MMA acted appropriately in leaving the train unattended overnight in Nantes with an engine running, whether the handbrakes the engineer applied were sufficient to meet Canadian railroad regulation, and whether appropriate safety procedures were applied before the engineer left the train for the night.

An accident between a semi-trailer truck and a freight train took place in Eastern Illinois on Friday afternoon, according to Wandtv.com. Our train accident lawyers learned that the collision occurred in the small town of Caitlin, several miles southwest of Danville. The report states that the truck driver was traveling across the tracks at a moderate speed; the truck’s cab had just cleared the tracks when the train suddenly appeared and struck the semi’s empty trailer at close to 55mph.

The impact of the collision pushed the trailer about one hundred feet west of the crossing and left a large hole in its side. The driver of the semi-trailer thankfully walked away from the accident without serious injury. Illinois State Police and Norfolk Southern railroad officials are currently investigating the accident to determine if any other factors may have contributed to the collision.

In previous blogs, our law firm has discussed the number and severity of train accidents in Illinois, as almost all of these accidents include property damage, personal injury, medical expenses, or fatalities. Statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) show that railroad crossings in Illinois are more dangerous in terms of accident population. In 2010, Illinois was the second deadliest state in train crossing fatalities out of ten states. The FRA is currently making efforts to improve safety near railroads in Illinois and many other states with a high number of train crossing fatalities.

Chicago.cbslocal.com released that a man was killed on Tuesday morning when a Metra train struck him as he was crossing the tracks in Downers Grove. A Chicago train accident attorney at our firm read that according to Metra, he was struck by an inbound train near the Downers Grove Main street station around 9:40am.

The report states that this is the third fatality involving a Metra train since late last week and the fourth time a Metra train has struck a pedestrian in that time. Last Thursday, a 56-year old was killed by a West Line train near the Bensenville Station as she was crossing the tracks just west of Addison Street. Last Friday, a Metra train struck an eleven-year old boy as he was crossing the tracks at Illinois Route 59 near Lake Cook Road in downtown Barrington; he survived, but with severe injuries. And on Monday, a 42-year old of Clarendon Hills was struck and killed by a train near the West Hinsdale station.

A transportation expert discussing the accidents said he has never heard of so many in such a short amount of time. “Metra is going to have to look deep inside to see what they haven’t tried yet,” he stated. “Whether it’s security guards at some of these crossings at peak times, whether it’s sound signals when trains are coming, or slowing down trains, something needs to be looked at. This can’t continue.”

Chaos erupted in California this Monday afternoon when an Amtrak train carrying about 169 passengers derailed in a collision with a semi truck. Suntimes.com released that the accident occurred when the driver of the semi tractor-trailer failed to yield and hit the train. The impact caused the train to travel about 600 additional feet before hitting a switchback and pushing two passenger cars and the locomotive off of the tracks, according to a local highway patrol officer. Officials have not determined how fast the train or the truck were traveling, but the average speed for Amtrak through the area is 70 to 80 mph, while the speed limit on the roadway where the truck was traveling is 55 mph.

After the accident, metal pieces from the truck could be seen inside the train, and passengers’ belongings were scattered around the area. “Right after it happened I see all these people with a terrified look on their faces, all trying to get to the front of the train,” a passenger told authorities. “I tried as best I could to try and calm people down and help them get off that train.” The report states that at least twenty passengers suffered injuries ranging from bumps, bruises, scrapes, and broken bones. Thirteen of the injured passengers, in addition to the semi driver, were taken to nearby hospitals. Uninjured passengers were taken to an auditorium where they boarded another train and continued to their destinations or were picked up by family members.

Authorities stated that repair crews worked into Tuesday removing the derailed cars and locomotive and ultimately repairing the damaged railroad tracks. All train service throughout the area was stopped after the accident. BNSF Railroad Co., which operates the tracks, said the accident occurred at a crossing that was equipped with gates to stop traffic. Investigators will try to determine if the accident was caused by a malfunction of these gates, driver error, or something else.

Foxnews.com recently published a report detailing a massive freight train collision around 2am Sunday in southwest Chicago that caused the derailment of several rail cars, damage to a freight train on an adjacent track, and even power outages in the surrounding area. An Illinois train accident lawyer at our firm learned that one of the freight trains involved was traveling from Nashville, Tennessee to Chicago with two locomotives and thirteen freight cars; another from Albany, New York to Chicago had four locomotives and ninety-three freight cars, and a third train from Flint, Michigan had two locomotives and one hundred-thirty freight cars. Needless to say, a collision between these freight trains would cause a significant amount of damage to many of the individual locomotives and cars involved.

Authorities say the derailment sent eight full-sized cars off of the tracks and a ninth car slid down an embankment into a nearby backyard. Though the CSX rail spokesman has no specifics on which train hit the other and which was on the adjacent track, the report states that many authorities said the derailment occurred in an area of elevated tracks. Emergency crews initially called for a hazardous materials response as a precaution, but no hazardous materials were detected and no leaks were discovered in any of the freight trains.

Our Chicago train accident lawyers read that there were no immediate reports of any injuries following the derailment. However, local radio and press reports said power was knocked out to more than 2,500 people in the surrounding area; no energy providers answered calls seeking further details. “CSX is working with local first responders gathering additional information,” the rail spokesman told AP, adding the derailment remains under investigation. He added that the primary focus remained on public safety.

A Chicago police officer miraculously survived an accident on Sunday when her car was totaled by a train while chasing a suspect. Policeone.com reports that the officer was following her partner in pursuit of a suspect just before 4pm on Friday when she drove around a closed train gate at the Kedzie Brown Line CTA station, believing the tracks were clear. An inbound train had indeed cleared, but an outbound train was close behind, which slammed into the police car at high speed and left it completely destroyed. Authorities say the car was partially wrapped between two train cars partially leaning on the Kedzie station house, and crews had to work for hours to dislodge it from the train.

Our Chicago train accident lawyers learned that despite the wreckage, the police officer was able to free herself from the vehicle and sustained non life-threatening injuries. Paramedics took her to Advocate Masonic Medical Center where she was treated, and the CTA train operator was also hospitalized. The accident affected the train company’s service until 7:45pm, shutting off power in both directions between the Kimball and Western station while emergency crews helped clean up the scene. Thankfully, none of the 30 to 40 passengers aboard the train was injured and authorities say the riders were able to get on bus shuttles to travel to other stations.

Allegedly, nearby residents have reported they’ve seen similar accidents before, one stating he had seen at least a dozen accidents from drivers trying to go through the train gate. According to CTA, stop signs warned train operators to stop just before approaching the station in 2006, but after a Kedzie station renovation, those signs were moved with the addition of the gates and flashing lights. A chief of the CTA rail workers union told reporters that he may want to consider putting the stop sign back in light of all the accidents that occurred.

A Chicago truck accident lawyer at our firm recently read an online news report by Mokena.patch.com detailing the death of a 19-year-old girl from Mokena, Illinois after a Metra train struck her car. The accident occurred late last month on the train tracks near 191st Street and LaGrange Road. Initial findings indicate that the girl’s car was inside of the crossing gates as the train approached around 10pm. Witnesses say that the car came to rest inside of the gates, but clear of the tracks, before the gates were lowered. As the car began driving slowly onto the tracks, witnesses blared their car horns in attempt to warn the driver of the train coming towards her. A Metra spokeswoman stated that the train engineer, traveling inbound from Joliet at 70 miles per hour, spotted the car and threw the train engine into emergency mode to attempt to brake. Metra said the gates were down and warning lights were flashing. Sadly, the car was struck as it reached the second track and the girl was killed at the scene. The report states that on Thursday, the family of the victim filed a complaint in Will Country Court to sue Metra for negligence.

Our Illinois truck accident lawyers are aware of the number and severity of train accidents throughout Illinois, as almost all of these accidents involve property damage, personal injury, medical expenses, and in many cases, death. According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), a person or a vehicle is hit by a train in the United State every two hours, totaling about 3,000 accidents each year. Surprisingly, railroad crossings in Illinois are statistically more dangerous in terms of accidents per population. In 2010, Illinois was the second deadliest state in train crossing fatalities out of ten states; there were a total of 27 fatalities in a 12.8 million population in Illinois. This is more than twice the number in much larger states. The FRA is currently making efforts to improve safety near railroads in Illinois and many other states with a high number of train crossing fatalities.

Railroad collisions have many causes, including improper installation of warning devices, improper sight lines that prevent drivers from seeing an oncoming train, failure to properly maintain crossing areas, or other types of negligence that may occur by either the train company or other vehicles involved. Our Illinois truck accident law firm would like to urge the public to be more cautious when traveling near railroad tracks this summer. Nearly half of all collisions at railroad crossings occur when automatic warning devices such a flashing lights or gates are present and are functioning properly. Be aware of these warning devices and avoid train tracks when they are flashing. Be especially alert near train tracks that do not have these warning devices. Many people believe that if they ever crossed the train tracks at an inappropriate time, they would be able to avoid the train, or the train would be able to stop in time. However, most freight trains traveling at about 50 miles per hour take over a mile to stop; the above report stated that emergency brakes were used to try to stop the train, but this was a failed attempt. Therefore, if there is any possibility of a train coming nearby, avoid the train tracks and do not cross them until you are sure you can do so safely.

Recently, a Chicago truck accident lawyer at our firm read a news report detailing a settlement that has been reached as result of litigation stemming from a fatal 2008 semi truck accident. According to the news report, posted on MailTribune.com, the accident in question transpired on September 25, 2008, when the driver of a semi tractor-trailer fell asleep behind the wheel. Shortly after falling asleep, the driver’s truck clipped the mirror of another tractor-trailer – causing the driver to pull hard right.

Ultimately the semi truck driver collided into an additional tractor-trailer which was stopped on the wide shoulder of the roadway. Court documents reveal that the disabled semi truck’s driver was inspecting his vehicle on the shoulder of the roadway at the time of the accident and was unfortunately killed instantly upon collision.

Our Chicago trucking accident attorney learned that further investigation into the accident revealed that the driver of the semi truck who caused the accident admitted to using methamphetamine one or two days prior to the accident. The driver was charged and ultimately pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide and driving under the influence of methamphetamine. He is currently serving a 40-month prison sentence that will include an additional three years of probation. The truck driver was also required to pay $7,903.80 in restitution.

It takes a semi-truck up to 40% longer to come to a stop than an average car. Failing to bear this in mind seems to be one of the problems contributing to a collision between a truck and an Amtrak train that occurred on June 24 in Nevada.

Since the accident, several victims have already filed personal injury lawsuits. According to NBC Chicago, the suits were filed by two attendants on the train, one from Worth, Illinois, the other from Evanston, who were injured when the train was struck by a truck driven by an employee of the John Davis Trucking Company of Battle Mountain. According to allegations in the lawsuits, the truck driver ignored the crossing gates and warning signals and braked too late, causing his truck to skid into the side of the train.

Seven people were killed and others injured because of the truck driver’s negligence. Our Chicago truck accident lawyers see many cases involving negligent drivers and understand that these accidents can often result in death or significant injuries such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis, broken bones, and even loss of life. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation – Traffic Safety, in 2008 there were 15,049 truck accidents in Cook County alone. In fact, truck crashes account for one of every eight automobile accident fatalities in Illinois.

WNYT News reported on a tragic collision that took the life of a truck driver last week. The truck accident involved an Amtrak train that left from Chicago and headed toward Albany. Near Dunkirk, New York that train came upon a road intersection with a tractor-trailer stopped on the tracks. The train was unable to stop in time to avoid a collision, and the truck failed to move.

The fast-moving train demolished the large truck upon impact. The driver of the truck was killed. Fortunately, none of the 240 passengers were injured.

The problem of cars and trucks attempting to beat trains seems to be growing. Train operators note that total train accident deaths in just the first five months of 2010 were almost the total for the entire year in 2009. With a 1,000-ton train traveling down the track at 70 miles per hour, there is almost no such thing as a “minor” train accident. Each incident is extremely costly.
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