Arlington Heights is a suburb of Chicago, not far from the city’s downtown area. Given its proximity to Chicago, it is unsurprising that many trains run through and around Arlington Heights. It is also no surprise that train accidents around the area are possible.
The Union Pacific Northwest Metra train line runs right through the area of Arlington Heights and stops at two nearby train stations. While train accidents are somewhat less typical than accidents involving other modes of transportation, they are still possible. Train conductors might be liable for causing the crash, and we should also consider suing Metra for damages too. Other parties might also be liable if they somehow contributed to the accident. Evidence for your case might include photos or security camera videos from the accident, witness testimony, train records, and more.
To schedule a review of your possible claims, call the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502 and speak with our train accident lawyers.
Where Trains accidents Around Arlington Heights Might Occur
You have likely heard about more car accidents than train accidents. Even so, that does not mean that train accidents never happen or that those involved do not deserve financial compensation. Train accidents are often severe, considering the size, weight, and speed of trains. Train accidents might also involve injuries in facilities utilized by trains, like platforms and stations.
Perhaps the most infamous and dangerous type of train accident is a derailment. To summarize, a train derailment occurs when a train leaves the tracks and is no longer safely on the rails. While some derailments are relatively minor, they can also be deadly serious. Numerous factors might be involved in train derailments, including equipment malfunctions, errors made by conductors, speed issues, and damaged or degraded tracks. One example of a serious derailment accident happened in Philadelphia in 2015 when an Amtrak train derailed, killing 8 people and injuring over 200 others.
Train accidents are not limited to the train and tracks. Many accidents occur within the facilities utilized by trains, including stations and platforms. Accidents on train platforms or in stations might not even involve a train at all. For example, you might be injured by unsafe conditions on a platform, such as falling debris or dangerous stairwells. Even though a train is not involved, our train accident lawyers can help you hold liable the entity that maintains the platform or station.
Determining Liability for Arlington Heights Train Accidents
The thing about train accidents is that they are often large-scale events that affect numerous people. While there are often many injured victims, there might also be numerous potentially liable defendants. Your lawyer can help you review how and where your train accident happened so that you can hold the appropriate parties responsible.
Train Conductors and Engineers
Trains are immense pieces of machinery that require the skills and experience of a qualified operator. The operator, often called the train conductor or engineer, is responsible for ensuring the train gets to its destinations safely. The train might be on tracks, but that does not mean the conductor has no control or that the train operates itself. Conductors are responsible for monitoring speed and making sure that all parts of the train are in working order.
Speed is one of the biggest causes of train accidents, especially when trains round tight curves. Conductors are responsible for knowing where along the route the train is at all times, where curves in the tracks are, and when they should be adjusting train speed. Failure to properly adjust speed might lead to derailments and injuries.
Many of the trains and train stations in Arlington Heights are operated and maintained by Metra, the public transit authority for Chicago and the surrounding areas. Metra is managed and overseen by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), a local government unit.
Since the RTA manages Metra, which includes a vast network of trains and rails, they might be liable for a train accident. Even if the train conductor is solely at fault for the accident, Metra and RTA might also be liable as the employer.
Since Metra and RTA are governmental entities, suing them is different than suing a private person or business. You must sue them under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act of Illinois. This Act does not create a legal cause of action but restricts what kind of actions may be brought against local governmental authorities. A claim against the government here must be based on willful or wanton misconduct rather than ordinary negligence.
In addition, lawsuits against the local government must abide by more restrictive notice requirements. Specifically, plaintiffs must submit notice of their claim to the proper governmental authority within 1 year of the date of their injury. Alternatively, they may file the lawsuit within 1 year of the accident and dispense with the notice requirement.
Others Who Might Be Liable
People or entities other than the train conductor, Metra, or the RTA may be implicated in your train accident case. For example, while uncommon, people have been pushed into train tracks accidentally or intentionally. In such cases, the person who caused you to fall might be liable. Even if you are not struck by a moving train, the fall might injure you badly.
Another possibility is that someone intentionally blocked the train tracks, causing the train to stop short and injure numerous passengers. It is not unheard of for people to jump into tracks or throw objects in front of trains. The conductor might have to suddenly stop the train, and passengers might be violently thrown about the train car.
How to Prove Your Claims for Compensation in a Train Accident Case in Arlington Heights
Evidence in a train accident case might come from many sources. To start, we should check any available surveillance footage that recorded the accident. Security cameras regularly monitor trains, stations, and platforms, and there might be video evidence of the accident.
We should also speak to witnesses. Train accidents often involve scores of passengers and onlookers, and there are likely multiple people who can explain how the accident happened. Given how large train accidents can be, it is best that we get as many witnesses as possible from various vantage points to testify.
Since train accidents are so serious, they usually result in an investigation, especially if people are hurt. While we should try to find evidence on our own, we may also want to wait for the results of an investigation before filing a lawsuit. The investigation might turn up additional evidence or even identify liable parties we were previously unaware of.
Call Our Arlington Heights Train Accident Attorneys for Assistance
To schedule an assessment of your potential case, call the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502 and speak with our train accident attorneys.