Recently, three people died in Vigo County, Indiana after a train crashed into their truck as they tried to cross the tracks. The three Illinois natives were 30, 24, and 20 years old respectively.
The accident occurred around two o'clock in the morning, when a northbound train struck the vehicle at the intersection of Gallagher Road and Rio Grande. Vigo County Sheriff's deputies later found that two of the individuals had been ejected and pinned under the truck. Now the question is what caused the accident.
Authorities have noted that the flashing lights and gates were working at the time of the accident. Some evidence has been found that the truck was traveling at a high speed, and containers of alcohol were found in the vehicle. While it is too early to determine whether alcohol was an important factor, authorities have already determined another one, which is that none of the individuals was wearing a seatbelt. Further investigation, including from the train's black box, will reveal whether the train engineer bears any responsibility for the collision.
Unfortunately, vehicle collisions with trains happen more often than one would think. Across the country, 2,000 occurred in 2012, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The third-highest number of collisions take place in Illinois and Indiana. Of the 2,000 accidents, 273 people died as a result. Indiana was fourth in the nation with 17 train collision deaths, but that was up from 10 deaths in 2011.
The reason these accidents occur is not always clear. Is it because the vehicle drivers erroneously thought that they could "outrace" a train by speeding across the tracks before the gate went down? Is it because the gates or the track were in disrepair, fooling the driver into thinking that the train was farther away than it was, and preventing the driver from clearing the track safely? Or was it due to inattentiveness on the train engineer's part? Maybe the train was going at a dangerously high speed before colliding with an unlucky vehicle.
Regardless of the situation, if there is any negligent behavior involved, the injured parties, or survivors of those killed, have the option of filing a lawsuit against the ones at fault. The injured party in this case might argue that the driver had a duty to his passengers and to others to operate a vehicle reasonably according to the law; the driver breached that duty by speeding, driving drunk, or by ignoring the flashing lights and guard rails; as a result of the breach, the other party was injured; and as a result of the injury, the injured party suffered physical and possibly mental damage. If you live in Indiana and were involved in a collision involving a train or otherwise, contact an Indiana vehicle accident attorney to learn more about your options.
Miller & Falkner is a plaintiffs law firm serving residents of Kentucky and Indiana. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the firm provides representation in the areas of personal injury and employment law. Contact us today for a free consultation.