September 12, 2010

Commuter train kills 2, injures 1 in Calif.

In an extremely sad and gruesome accident, a Southern California based Metrolink commuter train “struck and killed two people who may have been sleeping on the tracks and injured a third in Orange County on Thursday, authorities said.” (G. Flaccus, AP, 9/10). The trio on the tracks included two young women and one young man.

Investigators state that the three may have been sleeping on the tracks, and there is no evidence of drinking at the scene. The young woman who was injured said she “heard the train coming and jumped out of the way and it nicked her arm and leg.”
People in the neighborhood have complained of teenagers who trespass the tracks and party late at night. Metrolink confirmed that partying had been an issue, urging the local police to patrol the area more frequently.

As a personal injury attorney, I urge everyone, but young people especially, to understand and appreciate the dangers of train tracks. Each year, many train related deaths occur because victims fail to respect the danger that trains impose.

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February 28, 2010

Collisions with Trains kills Teenagers in Pennsylvania and Florida

This week, two fatal train collisions claimed the lives of five teenagers. The first of the incidents occurred in Melbourne Florida, which claimed the lives of three teenage girls horsing around on the tracks. The fourth, a boy was able to escape just in time. After ignoring no trespass signs and a verbal warning from a fisherman, the train was upon the teens before they even had time to move.

The second tragedy occurred near Philadelphia when a high speed Amtrak train from Boston to Washington, D.C. struck and killed two teenage girls who were supposed to be at school, but had left at some point and were on the train tracks near the school around 10:30a.m. when they were struck. A third girl with them reported the accident. (AP for FindLaw, 2/25).

These two tragedies should remind us all of the need to take extra precaution around train tracks. As a personal injury lawyer, I am saddened by these scenarios, but both incidents illustrate the need to take seriously the dangerous surrounding train tracks, especially for teenagers. Each year, several incidents similar to these occur when fun gets taken just one step too far.

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June 12, 2009

AAJ: Transportation Agencies Need to Quickly Enact Safety Standards

As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, I see many transportation accident cases. In order to avoid unnecessary injuries and fatalities, transportation safety measures should be reevaluated at regular intervals, especially after material information surfaces suggesting the current measures are not sufficient to ensure public safety.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently concluded driver fatigue and the lack of federal safety standards protecting passengers on buses contributed to the death and severity of the injuries sustained in the 2008 Utah bus rollover which killed nine and injured 43. (AAJ, Washington, DC)

“The transportation industry has been aware of these problems for years, if not decades, and they have done nothing about it. Current federal standards are needed to save lives,” said Tennessee attorney Morgan Adams. “Driver fatigue is a killer and it will continue to kill until the government takes action. There is no question some corporations will overwork employees, and ignore problems, in order to earn another dollar.”

In response, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) is calling on transportation regulators to review pending pre-Obama administration regulations and open new rulemaking proceedings to enhance commercial transportation safety measures for both trucks and buses.

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June 4, 2009

Governor Signs CTA Section 41 Notice Repeal

On Monday, June 1, Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 84 (CTA Section 41 Notice Repeal) into law. SB 84 is now Public Act 96-0012. P.A. 96-0012 was sponsored by Senator Ira Silverstein and Representative Al Riley (ITLA Legislative Bulletin 6/3).

P.A. 96-0012 repeals in its entirety the notice requirement in Section 41. The one-year statute of limitations for filing suit against the CTA still applies. The repeal will only apply to causes of action that accrue on or after the effective date of June 1, 2009.

The primary issue with the previous law is adequately communicated by the Illinois Trial Lawyer Association (ITLA) President Philip Harnett Corboy, Jr. as follows: "This legislation has corrected an outdated, but nevertheless, very dangerous statute. The now-repealed CTA Notice Requirement had become an extra layer of aggravation that oftentimes trapped innocent victims of negligent behavior by the CTA. Under that statute, trial judges had no discretion but to throw out cases where claimants- or their attorneys- made otherwise innocent mistakes on the pre-suit notice. Now we can concentrate our efforts on prosecuting the claims where they should be- before a judge and jury.”

This is an excellent change in the law for victims of CTA accidents in Chicago. Under the old law, lawyers had to file a formal notice with very specific requirements with the CTA to preserve the action. Even the smallest error could result in a case being dismissed on a minor technicality. This change in the law will allow all injured victims of CTA negligence to get a full and fair hearing in court.

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