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Train accident case remanded for new trial

On behalf of Jeffrey Frederick of Frederick & Hagle posted in Train Accidents on Monday, March 19, 2012.

There are many issues and circumstances that need to be taken into account when filing a personal injury lawsuit and a clear understanding of the laws surrounding personal injury is crucial in making the right decisions. Recently, a new trial is being required after an Illinois appellate court found that the trial court may have “abused its discretion” in its award of damages after a train accident. The initial case was brought to trial after two men were hit by a train in 2007. The men were in a truck attempting to cross Union Pacific tracks when the train accident occurred.

One of the men passed away as a result of his injuries and the driver suffered numerous injuries and extensive head trauma. The daughter of the man who died sued the truck driver, who also happened to be her uncle, as well as the Union Pacific Railroad for wrongful death. A settlement eventually occurred between the relatives.

The uncle later joined in his niece’s lawsuit against the railroad. She was later awarded $30,000 and the driver of the vehicle was awarded $2.5 million, which was later reduced to half because the jury found that he was 50 percent responsible for the train accident.

The appellate court ruled that an error occurred when the judge allowed the plaintiff to rely upon “certain industry safety standards” to plead his case but prevented Union Pacific the same right. In this case, Union Pacific was denied from showing that railroad crossing signs are not binding when they are at a private railroad crossing. Union Pacific was not allowed to cross-examine the plaintiff’s witness in order to rebut the claims and show that while the crossing signs are used as a way to acknowledge safety concerns at public crossings and attempt to prevent a train accident, they are not binding when used at private ones. A new trial is required and has been deferred to Madison County, Illinois for that purpose.

Source: Legal Newsline, “Ill. appellate court says Madison judge got it wrong,” Ann Maher, March 9, 2012

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