In 2003, a 12 year-old boy was attempting to hitch a ride on a moving freight train when his foot was severed and eventually amputated. The now 18 year-old man was awarded $6.6 million by a Chicago circuit court judge as a result of his personal injury.
The plaintiff had been with a group of friends at the railroad track near a Chicago Ridge park and had attempted to board the moving Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train several times. On his third try the boy managed to grab hold of the bottom rung of a ladder on the side of the box car. However, he then fell backwards with his left foot landing on the rail, which was then run over by the train. Doctors were unable to repair his foot and the boy required a below the knee amputation and now uses a prosthetic leg.
The main issue of the case revolved around plaintiff’s argument that the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad knew that children typically trespassed in this area and yet had failed to fence off the railways. According to the plaintiff there should have also been a pedestrian crossing over the railroad tracks.
Issues of premise liability revolve around a property owner’s duty to maintain a safe environment. Even though the child was trespassing in this case the railroad still had a duty to maintain a safe environment, or at least to ensure that children did not have easy access to a dangerous environment. Because it failed to do so the railroad was liable for the plaintiff’s injury.
Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for over 30 years, serving neighborhoods in and around Cook County such as Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Downer’s Grove, and Cicero.