California's railways are used by thousands of people everyday. The railways offer a convenient and reliable mode of transportation in the Bay Area and across the state. However, since trains and motor vehicles inevitably cross paths, accidents do occur. The size and speed of trains usually means that drivers and their passengers are on the losing end of an accident. Many of these accidents may give rise to a wrongful death claim if a fatality is involved.
A recent accident involving a Union Pacific freight train and a 2000 Honda Civic left two children injured and one person dead. The driver of the car suffered major injuries in the collision. She was airlifted to a local San Francisco hospital, but passed away from her injuries.
A 7-year-old girl and a 13-year old girl suffered minor injuries in the collision. They were in the back seat of the car when the accident occurred. The girls were taken to a local hospital for treatment. A 2-year-old boy was also in the car, but was not injured. According to the California Highway Patrol, the Honda Civic was hit by the train at a railroad crossing. The crossing has a warning sign, but there are no crossing gates.
The accident serves as a deadly reminder of the dangers posed by trains on California railways. For those who have lost a loved one in a train accident, recovery against the responsible parties may be possible by filing a wrongful death claim.
There are several components to filing a successful claim. One must show that the accident was caused by another's negligence and the surviving family members suffered monetary harm as a result of the death. In addition, a probate estate must be opened for the deceased. In many cases, it is possible to settle the lawsuit out of court.
Source: The Herald, "Fatality in Pajaro car-train crash ID'd," Kevin Howe, Jan. 28, 2013