Fatal Train Crash Injures Dozens and Raises Legal Issues


October 03, 2013

While most people that ride a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus or commuter train do not expect mass transit accidents, crashes involving trains and buses do occur as revealed by a recent devastating train accident.  A Chicago commuter train collision resulted in at least 48 people suffering injury and 33 people needing hospitalization according to the CNN report.

The facts surrounding the train crash are extremely unusual because the out of service train had been parked in a service yard but somehow ended up on a live rail line resulting in a head-on collision.  The impact of the crash was so intense that part of the train collapsed like an accordion based on witness accounts.  There also was no one at the controls of the out of service train at the time of the fatal collision; however, the authorities have declined to characterize the train crash as a runaway train accident according to the media reports.  However, the Vice President of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) rail operations indicated that the train would need to be placed in a power position manually.

Although the commuter rail crash is still under investigation, it raises a number of legal issues, such as:

Special Requirements for Lawsuits against Public Entities: Because many commuter transportation services like MARTA buses and rail lines are operated by public entities like the State of Georgia, the process of seeking financial compensation requires compliance with special notice requirements and time deadlines prior to initiating a lawsuit.

Challenges of Proving Negligence & Causation:  Accidents can present difficult challenges in terms of uncovering direct evidence to establish fault and causation.  However, the facts in this particular case may be a situation where the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur might be employed.  This Latin phrase literally translated means that “the thing speaks for itself.”  The basic principle is that certain types of accidents do not occur without someone committing negligence.  When the defendants were in a position to exercise exclusive control over the instrumentality that caused the accident, this legal doctrine can create a presumption that the accident was the result of negligence by the defendants.

Time of the Essence: Because government agencies often will conduct formal investigations of such accidents, the earlier that you have legal representation to begin analyzing available evidence and government reports the better the chance of recovery.  The filing of a complaint to initiate legal action must also occur prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations.  If this legal deadline is missed, the injury victim generally will be barred permanently from seeking legal recovery.

If you or someone close to you is injured or a loved one dies in a MARTA accident, call 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) to speak with an Atlanta accident attorney at Montlick and Associates. We are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.