For much of the 20th Century, Illinois was widely acknowledged as a central hub of train transportation throughout the nation. That designation carries through to the present as freight, goods, and people travel by train within Chicago, the suburbs, and across the rest of the state. Trains serve a vital function in the city and they are a daily presence in the lives of many.
Even if you do not travel by train, chances are that you cross the path of a train or train tracks on a regular basis. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclist, and those who drive personal cars have a hard time moving from one spot in Chicago to another without potentially seeing a train or tracks. This can lead to a train accident and potentially to serious injuries. Victims of these collisions may be entitled to seek financial compensation through the use of a civil claim for damages, a type of relief that can provide monetary relief to cover damages like medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering.
In an effort to increase awareness of the dangers presented by trains, Illinois is recognizing this week as Rail Safety Week. It is a national program that is being recognized in the state for the first time because in 2013, Illinois had the third most deaths by train in the nation. These instances involved 21 people who were killed by a train while in a vehicle and another 25 people were killed in train accidents as pedestrians. In addition to those who were killed, 67 people were hurt by trains in Illinois.
The reasons for train injuries and deaths are varied but include the heavy train traffic that is experienced across the state. As Chicago has a high concentration of both people and trains, many of the accidents take place within the city's limits. Some are the fault of motorists who attempt to drive around warning gates or try to race a train so they will not have to wait at a crossing. Other collisions are due to speeding trains, improperly working machinery, failure of safety devices, or even a mistake by the operator of a train. At least one incident in Illinois last year is believed to have occurred by a teen who was intentionally trying to get as close to a passing train as possible.