On July 10, 2015, a Boynton Beach man was killed when his SUV collided with an oncoming train. According to reports, the man was late for work and circumvented the train crossing gates. Upon crossing the gates, the train struck the man at a high speed. This tragedy exemplifies the many risks commuters face every day when driving to work. When events such as these occur, Boynton Beach personal injury lawyers are called upon to investigate and advise injured victims and their families about their legal rights and entitlement to compensation.
The report that the victim drove around the railroad crossing warrants a discussion of contributory and compensatory legal theories of fault discussed in many negligence cases. Contributory negligence is a legal concept that asks “Did the person contribute to his or her injury by unreasonably taking a certain risk?” If circumventing a train gate is considered an unreasonable risk to an average person then traditionally the injured party would have no ability to recover any damages.
Due to the extreme nature of barring all recovery, many states such as Florida, have adopted “comparative negligence” standard to determine fault. According to Florida Statute 768.81(2), “In a negligence action, contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.” The statute precludes a total bar to recovery by apportioning fault to both parties based on the facts of the case. According to the news report, the Florida East Coast Railway spokesman said they constantly make sure the horns and crossing arms are working properly at train crossings. If the train crossing gate in this situation was not working properly or there were no proper warnings then perhaps this situation would justify a comparative negligence analysis.
The Federal Railroad Commission, an agency of the United States Department of Transportation, is charged with promulgating and enforcing safety regulations to prevent railway accidents. The Federal Railroad Commission reported four fatalities from trains in Palm Beach County from 2013-2014. Further, it is reported that most train and railway accidents occur as a result of human error.
Unfortunately this incident occurred, but readers can learn from this tragic occurrence. “If you’re gonna be late, call and let them know,” a family member said when discussing the terrible loss of a married man who was in school to become a police officer. The Boynton Beach injury lawyers at Boynton Law, P.A., are available to assist victims of train disasters and other accidents involving personal injuries in the Boynton Beach and Palm Beach area. Our vast experience allows us to provide knowledgeable assistance and aggressively protect your rights in matters such as train accidents or other disastrous events that unexpectedly affect people every day.