Abels & Annes

Articles Posted in Train Accidents

71116(2)There are so many aspects that factor into train safety that it can be difficult for an average passenger or a Chicago driver to understand train incidents fully. While trains in Illinois serve a vital purpose, they also present a very real risk of causing or being involved in an accident, potentially altering countless lives and leading to devastation that affects an entire community. So when things go wrong with a train, who is to blame?

It all depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding a particular train accident. Fault can lie with any individual involved in a collision and will be based upon the laws of Illinois, including who had the right-of-way and whether anyone acted in a negligent or reckless manner.

The victims of these train incidents should know that they have legal rights which may enable them to recover for the totality of the harm they suffer including any medical expenses incurred, lost wages experienced, and pain and suffering endured. However, to be able to recover financially, victims must act affirmatively to protect their rights within a time period specified by law or they will be barred from acting forever. Working with a personal injury attorney can help victims receive the amount of compensation they deserve and can ensure that someone is on the victim’s side, fighting for his or her rights.

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1103142.jpgTrain accidents pose a significant threat to those who call Chicago home or to those who work in the city. Even if you do not travel by train, you may not be safe as many train collisions involve vehicles other than trains, like those that occur between a train and a passenger car. With numerous train lines and street-level train track crossings in Chicago, it can be a dangerous place to drive if a train is in the area.

When a train collision involves a smaller vehicle, like a car, truck, or van, those involved are likely to sustain injuries or to lose their lives because of the disadvantage in size highlighted by an impact. Cars are not constructed to withstand an impact of a train and often cars crumple in response when a crash occurs, potentially trapping victims inside the passenger compartment. While nothing can erase the damage done by these collisions, victims of crashes may be entitled to seek relief for their losses if they have been hurt. If a victim loses his or her life, the right to seek relief may belong to the victim’s surviving family members and it is the right of the victims to seek compensation, meaning an at-fault company cannot prevent a recovery. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer can help you understand your options for relief if a Chicago-area train accident has affected your life.

A tragic accident occurred on Thursday evening between a train and a family in a vehicle as that family headed to a Halloween parade, according to officials in Vandalia. Police believe that a 35-year-old mother was behind the wheel of her vehicle with her four children inside when she approached a train crossing near a parade route. The train struck the vehicle on the passenger side, killing the 35-year-old mom, an 18-year-old daughter, a 13-year-old son, and a 10-year-old daughter. The three children were killed at the scene while their mother survived for some time before succumbing to her injuries.

Emergency crews responded to the scene and evaluated all victims. In addition to the 35-year-old mother, a 9-year-old son was alive but in serious condition and was transported via air ambulance to a nearby hospital. The nature and extent of the boy’s injuries are not clear at this time nor is it known whether he will survive.

The train involved in the crash reportedly was 105 cars long and no one on board is believed to have been hurt. Multiple agencies are investigating this incident and trying to determine what led the vehicle and the train to be at the crossing at the same time, including whether negligence played a role or whether any other factors influenced the collision.
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20140725_191248.jpgFor 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.
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1341732_road_to_nowhere-sxchu-website.jpgIn October, a 26-year-old mother was killed and her two small sons were injured when the Dodge minivan they were riding in was struck by a Metra Rock Island train in Morgan Park. Tristian Hicks Williams was driving her two sons, 5-year-old JonKing and 4-year-old Jayvon, to school on 115th Street when the accident occurred. According to the engineer of the train and several witnesses, the collision happened after Williams reportedly drove around train crossing gates near Marshfield Avenue. After the initial impact, the minivan was dragged for several feet before it flipped and rolled.

Tragically, Williams was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Emergency responders transported her sons to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition. Jayvon suffered facial lacerations and other injuries while JonKing suffered two broken legs.

According to a Metra spokesperson, Meg Reile, the train that struck the minivan was travelling at 79 miles per hour. Reile said the train’s speed made it impossible to stop in time to avoid a collision. An accident witness, Perry Logan, stated the minivan was in front of his own automobile when the crossing gates came down to alert drivers to the oncoming train. Logan said Williams drove around the gates and appeared to panic when she realized the train was about to strike her vehicle. He also said he heard the train’s brakes squeal as it attempted to avoid hitting the minivan.

The exact cause of the fatal accident is currently under investigation. The crash was the 24th death involving a Metra train in 2012. 20 of those deaths reportedly involved a pedestrian fatality. The collision was also the sixth accident at the same train crossing since 1975. In each of the previous accidents, a driver reportedly drove around the crossing gates before being hit.

Railroad crossings are everywhere in the Chicago metro. Despite laws designed to protect the public, pedestrian and vehicle crashes with trains still occur. A car accident with a train may be caused by many factors including inadequate warning lights, crossing gate failure, and train speed. Unfortunately, accidents with trains normally result in catastrophic injuries or death. Injury claims that arise out of an accident with a train are often complex and involve numerous laws and regulations.
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A significant reduction in the number of Chicago car accidents, as well as serious and fatal traffic accidents elsewhere in Illinois, made the state the safest it has been since 1921, according to 2009 traffic statistics released by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

A total of 911 traffic fatalities were reported in Illinois last year and 89,090 were injured. Those figures indicate about 3 people are killed and 244 are injured every day on Illinois roads. Total economic cost was $5.3 billion.
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Each fatality cost $1.3 million. An incapacitating injury cost $66,900, while a nonincapacitating injury cost $21,700.

Fatal Accidents in Illinois
-911 motorists were killed in 832 fatal crashes.
-25.7 crashes occurred at intersections.
-77.2 percent occurred on dry roads.
-48.3 percent occurred in daylight.
-56.4 occurred on urban roads.
-31.7 occurred in a crash with a fixed object.

Illinois Pedestrian Accidents
-111 pedestrians were killed in 2009.
-5,231 were injured.
-One in five fatal pedestrian accidents involved a senior citizen; 1 in 20 involved a child under the age of 15.

Illinois Motorcycle Accidents
-A total of 3,846 motorcycle crashes were reported.
-130 riders were killed and 3,152 were injured.

Illinois School Bus Accidents
-133 school-aged children were injured in school bus accidents.
-78 drivers were injured in school bus accidents.

Illinois Semi Accidents
-64 people were killed in tractor-trailer accidents in Illinois.
-3 fatality victims were occupants of tractor-trailers, while 55 were occupants of other vehicles.

Illinois Train Accidents
-One-fourth of fatal train accidents happened at crossings with gates.
-Three-quarters of fatal train crashes happened at crossings with other types of traffic control devices, including signs and flashing lights.

Illinois Work Zone Accidents
-31 people were killed in Illinois work zone accidents in 2009.
-5 of those killed were construction workers.

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Illinois is among 10 states ordered by the federal government to improve safety at railroad crossings, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Our Chicago car accident attorneys continue to report on the large number of Chicago railroad crossing accidents. Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog has reported at least one fatal railroad crossing accident in each of the last three months.
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Between 2006 and 2008, a total of 98 people have been killed at 588 railroad crossing accidents in Illinois, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. In fact, Illinois had more railroad crossing accidents than any state in the nation except Texas.

States must submit a plan by August 2011 to reduce railroad crossing accidents and must pay extra attention to crossings that have been identified as particularly dangerous. Options include shutting down crossing or building tunnels or bridges to separate trains from vehicle traffic.

In Northeastern Illinois, four crossings in Chicago and the Bensenville Rail Yard in Franklin Park top the list of crossings where multiple accidents have occurred. Five crashes have been reported at each location during the past five years.

Other states under the federal mandate to improve crossing safety are Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas. Federal statistics show that 7,077 crossing accidents have killed 873 people during the last three years. Just over half of those accidents occurred in the 10 states targeted for safety improvements.

Federal authorities rejected an argument by some states that fatalities be determined based on the number of crossings in a state and the number of vehicles traveling through crossings. Instead, the enforcement action is being taken based on the total number of railroad crossing accidents that each state has reported.

State authorities have yet to finalize a separate plan meant to reduce Illinois pedestrian accidents at railroad crossings. Twenty-eight pedestrians have been killed at crossings in the last three years, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission.
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