A recent Cook County jury verdict is a reminder of the dangers of railroad crossings and of Illinois train accidents. $5 million was awarded to the surviving family members of a 60 year-old man who was killed when his car was struck by a Metra train at a Chicago railroad crossing.
As a Chicago commuter at least once a year I hear about a train accident at a Chicago crossing, oftentimes due to an impatient vehicle trying to beat the fast moving train. However, in this man’s case a traffic signal was responsible for his death.
The 60 year-old male was driving southbound towards the crossing located near the intersection of Marshfield Street and 111th on Chicago’s southside as the train was approaching. The City’s traffic control system signaled east and westbound traffic to receive red lights at the crossing, but southbound traffic was given a green light. There was no indication to the driver that he should not turn right at the railroad tracks. The driver made his turn onto the tracks just as the train was approaching at 60 mph.
At trial, the decedent’s attorney argued that he had not had time to react to the high-speed train. His estate contended that the City of Chicago had previously been told that it needed a “no right turn” blank-out sign. This sign would light up automatically when a train approached and warning drivers not to turn right onto the tracks.
While it is the railroad’s responsibility to maintain those warning lights at the crossing itself and all the areas immediately around the tracks, the City is responsible for the safety and effectiveness of the traffic lights. The jury found that the City had not taken the necessary steps to ensure that its traffic lights were effective and that it ensured the safety of drivers at the railroad crossing, and thus found in favor of the decedent’s estate.
Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois train accident cases and FELA injury cases for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Evanston, Melrose Park, Oak Lawn, and Hoffman Estates.