A Chicago train accident case was recently settled on behalf of one of the passengers injured in the 2005 train derailment. The Metra train was operated by Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, who has agreed to pay the plaintiff $2 million for the injuries he sustained as a result of the Illinois train accident. Hurley v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, No. 05 L 10416.
The injured Illinois resident suffered shoulder, hip, and leg injuries as a result of the Illinois train derailment. The plaintiff required multiple surgeries for his fractured him and underwent a lengthy physical therapy program. There were several additional passengers who were injured on that date and two women died; however, the $2 million settlement is for Kevin Hurley’s injuries only. The families of the two women who died as a result of the derailment have previously settled their Illinois wrongful death claims for $11 million. Presumably the other parties have also filed their own claims against Metra.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board‘s railroad accident brief, the September 17, 2005 Metra derailment was the result of the engineer’s failure to obey signals warning him to reduce his speed and failure to obey the speed restrictions at the train crossover. At the time of the accident the Rock Island Metra train was going 69 mph through a track crossover area; the maximum allowable speed is 10 mph. As a result of the high speeds and the severe angle of the track caused the wheels to jump the track and derail.
The 2005 train accident bears a striking similarity to a 2003 Chicago train accident. Both Metra accidents occurred on the Rock Island line and both involved a train traveling 65-70 mph in a 10 mph speed zone. While the engineer is responsible for controlling the train’s speed and safely carrying his passengers to their destination, the train carrier itself also has certain responsibilities.
Like any employer, railroad companies are responsible for providing their employees with the proper training and knowledge to safely carry out their tasks. In addition, railroad companies are responsible for maintaining the track and adjusting the speed limits to safeguard against human error. In its investigation of the 2005 train accident, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the train carrier had contributed to the accident by its lack of recognition “of the risk posed by the significant difference between track speed and crossover speed at the accident location and its inaction to reduce that risk through additional operational safety procedures or other means”. Train carriers need to account for human error and make every effort to ensure that its trains and tracks are as safe as possible.
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