$20 Million Verdict In Train Collision Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Missouri

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A $20 Million verdict has been reached in Missouri for the widow of a businessman killed in a train collision in 2012.

The jury verdict found only 5% fault to be a result of Mr. Scott Spence, and finding 95% fault against the defendant Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.  Mr. Spence was killed in 2012 attempting to cross at a railroad crossing when the collision with the train occurred, reported by the Caruthersville Democrat Argus.

The wrongful death lawsuit hinged upon three components, according to plaintiff’s attorney J. Michael Ponder:

  • Inappropriate Sight Distances
  • Vegetation Obstructed Visibility
  • Negligent Train Crew (Didn’t see the car crossing early enough)

The $20 Million jury award was the largest Mr. Ponder could remember in the area.

Safety at railroad crossings hinge upon a number of factors.  You can go here to see some of the most common causes of train collision accidents.

Based on data from the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis reported: 2011 there were 11,381 train accidents, highway-rail incidents and other train-related incidents, which resulted in 698 fatalities and 8,283 injuries.

“The problem comes in that the railway inspectors are not inspecting for crossing safety,”Plaintiff's Attorney

Crossing maintenance inspection concerns were raised in the case over the matter of the number and type of crossing lights and safety updates which may have prevented an accident.

“They are simply inspecting to see if the track is lined up right so that the train won’t go off the rails. Or if they’re looking at all for vegetation, it’s just to make sure it’s not hanging down in the way of the train. They have no analysis of whether the crossing is safe for motorists.”Plaintiff's Attorney

(Source: SEMissiourian)

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