Safety features, such as traffic lights and railroad gates, are something that the public expects to function properly and warn them against danger. These features are in place for a reason; when they don’t work properly, serious accidents can occur. Unfortunately, this may have been the case for one Illinois mother who was killed in a recent train accident where railroad signals apparently did not alert her to an oncoming train.
The woman’s three children are now seeking legal action against the railroads, claiming that the signals and gates malfunctioned. They allege that one would be unable to cross the tracks at this particular intersection if the gates were functioning and down, and it is suspected that the woman was unaware of the approaching train rather than attempting to ‘beat the train.’
One witness even claims that he witnessed the gates malfunctioning, and that they closed on the back of his own vehicle as he was crossing the tracks when no train was approaching just before the fatal accident occurred.
Though some may argue these safety mechanisms cannot be perfectly functioning at all times, it is widely and publicly expected that they will not malfunction, especially in ways that will cause someone serious harm or injury. Many believe it is the responsibility of those in charge of maintaining these mechanisms to keep them functioning properly, and it is also hoped that witnesses who may see them malfunctioning act immediately to alert police or other officials. But when a train accident does occur, like this accident, questions of negligence often arise. While it is too early to determine exactly what occurred in this instance, Illinois courts will now be charged with hearing the claims raised in the lawsuit and deciding if the fatality was occasioned by the negligence of others.
Source: bnd.com, “Woman’s children sue railroads over her death in train collision” Carolyn P. Smith, March 22, 2012