Articles Posted in Train Accident

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A St. Louis woman was killed yesterday when an Amtrak train struck her pickup truck in Hartford, Illinois. The Illinois train accident occurred at the intersection of Seventh and Olive streets around 7:25 a.m. The accident victim has been identified as 31 year-old Heather Sheree Balven of the 7500 block of Hoover Avenue in St. Louis. Balven was employed as a geotechnical engineer with Terracon Consultants Inc., a subcontracting outfit that was hired to help construct an Alaskan oil pipeline to the area. Eyewitness Robert Preston said that he saw the truck approaching the intersection just before the collision. He reports that he did not hear the train sound a horn until it was at the railroad crossing at which point he saw the truck fly ‘about 75 feet in the air.’ The intersection where the train accident occurred is not equipped with crossing signs or lights.

Balven’s truck came to a halt about 75 yards north of the railroad crossing. Balven was killed on impact according to the Madison County Coroner’s Office. Amtrak reports that none of the 64 passengers or crew members aboard the train suffered injuries. The train was bound from St. Louis to Chicago and was travelling between 50 and 60 mph at the time of the collision. The Hartford Police Department is still investigating the tragic train accident.

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A Westmont man was killed yesterday when his car was struck by a westbound freight train leaving Chicago. The motor vehicle accident occurred at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Cass Avenue and the BNSF Railway tracks located between Burlington Avenue and Quincy Street in Westmont. According to the DuPage County Coroner’s Office, 91 year-old Louis Lome was killed when the train collided with his silver sedan on the tracks. Lome’s car was subsequently dragged down the tracks past the Westmont Metra passenger platform. The circumstances surrounding the accident remain under investigation however several witnesses have reported that Lome may have been attempting to circumvent the railway crossing gates when the accident occurred.

Railway director of public relations Steve Forsberg reports that the westbound freight train was empty after having carried coal to Chicago. The train was allegedly traveling between 35 and 40 mph at the time of the fatal collision. Forsberg claims that the gates and warning signals had been tested and were in working order. The accident caused significant problems for inbound Chicago Metra trains resulting in delays of up to an hour and fifteen minutes.

According to Illinois Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit public education program established to end collisions and deaths at railroad crossings, Illinois ranks fourth among the top 15 states for rail crossing collisions. The non-profit reports that Illinois suffered 151 highway-rail grade crossing collisions in 2007. About half of these collisions occurred while warning signals were flashing or train gates were down.

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A Cook County Judge has approved a settlement awarding the families of two deceased Chicago Metra riders $11 million dollars in the wake of a fatal train derailment that occurred on September 17, 2005. The settlement, which was entered on November 12th, was reached just as the two wrongful death lawsuits were scheduled for trial. The suits were brought by the families of Jane Cuthbert, a 38 year-old research technician from New Lenox, and Allison Walsh, a 22 year-old student from Oak Forest. Cuthbert and Walsh are just two of the more than 100 victims of the train derailment. By the terms of the settlement, Walsh’s family will receive $5 million dollars while Cuthbert’s will receive $6 million. Walsh and Cuthbert were the only two deaths resulting from the 2005 train derailment.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has revealed that the primary cause of the accident was operator failure. More specifically, the investigation determined that the train operator failed to conduct the train in accordance with signal and speed restrictions. The derailment occurred on Metra’s Rock Island train route between Joliet and Chicago at the 48th Street crossover. At the time of the accident, the train was traveling 60 mph over the 10 mph maximum speed posted at the crossover. The NTSB also cited Metra’s failure to install a satellite-based safety system designed to override human error as a cause of the accident.

The settlement represents only the tip of the iceberg for Metra as approximately 35 Chicago personal injury lawsuits related to the derailment remain pending. Since the 2005 derailment tragedy, Metra has instituted a more comprehensive training program and upgraded operation technologies. The improvements, however, do not include a satellite emergency override system to combat operator error. The commuter line is presently awaiting federal approval for an emergency system to be installed next August.

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Trains are a common mode of transportation in Illinois, with many commuters opting to ride a train or subway to work or some other destination. Although the Chicago Transit Authority, the Metra subway system, and the different railroad companies are required to keep the trains and subways running safely on their tracks, train accidents in the Chicago area do happen. Train and subway passengers, pedestrians, motor vehicle drivers, railroad workers, train and subway operators, and railroad and subway employees are frequently the ones who are injured or killed.

If you have been injured in a train crash, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case right away. At Joseph Klest, Attorney at Law, we offer a FREE consultation to all train injury victims and family members that have lost loved ones in train accidents. Attorney Klest will be happy to offer you advice on the immediate steps that you can take to protect your rights so you can obtain the maximum compensation from any negligent parties.

The sooner you hire an experienced and knowledgeable Chicago personal injury lawyer to start gathering the evidence and building your case, the greater your chances are of being able to obtain the best outcome possible in your train accident claim or lawsuit. Proving that a railroad company or a transportation system/authority is liable for your train accident injuries can be very difficult, which is why you need a personal injury lawyer that understands the rules and regulations that govern trains and subways in Illinois.