Distracted Driving Caused Train-Truck Accident

train-truck accident

Baltimore Train-Truck Accident Caused by Distracted Driving, Investigators Find

train-truck accidentA year and a half ago, a truck collided with a train, causing a serious crash and train derailment. Now, a report from Baltimore-area investigators shows that the truck driver was at fault in the accident, because of distracted driving.

The National Transportation and Safety Board released their final report regarding the train-truck accident that occurred on May 28th, 2013, and their investigators determined that the driver, 51-year-old John Alban, Jr, failed to make sure the train tracks were clear before crossing. However, the board also said that Alban was talking on a phone or hands-free device when the crash occurred.

The train-truck accident led to the derailment of 15 train cars on a 45-car train, which was carrying hazardous chemicals. Explosions on the train injured five people, and caused millions of dollars in property damage.

“An alert driver would have heard the train horn even with the windows closed,” acting NTSB chairman Christopher A. Hart said in a statement on Wednesday, blaming Alban’s use of his hands-free device for distracting him.

Alban was charged with several misdemeanor traffic violations related to the truck accident, but the investigation concluded that he also committed distracted driving violations. Although most states allow drivers, including commercial truck drivers, to use hands-free devices, the laws do not inherently mean that talking on a phone while driving is safe – and many studies show that it is not.

“Current laws may mislead people to believe that hands-free is as safe as not using a phone at all,'” acting NTSB chairman Christopher Hart said. “Auditory testing done by our investigators found that an alert driver would have heard the train horn even with the windows closed on the approach to the crossing. Time and again, our investigators find that operator distraction is at the heart of accidents throughout transportation in all modes.”

The report called for a ban on any cell phone use, including hands-free devices, for commercial drivers. It further stated that Alban’s trucking company did not have adequate federal oversight which allowed for “a consistent and serious pattern of noncompliance” with federal trucking safety regulations. Commercial drivers were banned from talking on cell phones or texting and driving in 2011, but using hands-free devices remains acceptable.

“Whenever you’re using a hands-free device or any item that can cause a distraction, there is a level of personal responsibility and accountability,” said Louis Campion, president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association. “A driver has to use discretion to determine whether they are in an area where they can use a communication system safely.”

However, Champion added that hands-free devices are an important way for drivers to communicate with their overseeing companies. Talking to companies while driving allows drivers to stay informed of traffic accidents in their immediate paths, or areas of congestion that could lead to dangerous scenarios for trucks drivers and the traffic around them.

“We recognize that this is certainly a conversation that needs to be had, as our research indicates that hands-free does not mean risk-free,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, a spokeswoman for driver advocacy group AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We welcome further discussion, which this recommendation from the NTSB will likely generate.”

Trucking Accidents Can Cause Serious Injury and Wrongful Death

Accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles such as semi tractor trailers, flatbed or tanker trucks, buses, or construction accidents can often result in a serious injury or death. Accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles can cause:

  • traumatic brain injury,
  • paralysis,
  • severe disability, and
  • even death.

If you or a loved one has been such a victim, contact the Strom Law Firm, LLC trucking accident lawyers. Whether you were injured in a bus accident, tractor trailer accident, or any other commercial vehicle accident, we can help. 803.252.4800

“Midnight Rider” Wrongful Death Suit Filed

wrongful death

“Midnight Rider” Producers Face Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Assistant’s Death

wrongful deathIn February, six crew members were injured and one – 27-year-old assistant cameraman Sarah Jones – was killed on the set of “Midnight Rider,” produced by a Pasadena-based company and based on the memoir of Gregg Allman. Now, Sarah Jones’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

On February 20th, a freight train barreled through the set of the movie, and Jones was killed after being struck by the train.  Unfortunately, train injuries occur more often than you might think.  According to Operation Lifesaver, there were 2087 accidents in 2013, leading to 929 injuries and 251 fatalities

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Chatham County, Georgia, where the movie was being shot. Richard and Elizabeth Jones, Sarah’s parents, allege that the producers Randall Miller and his wife, Jody Savin, were negligent on the set and that led to their daughter’s death.

The Jones’s wrongful death suit names the production company, Unclaimed Freight Productions, its local production partner Meddin Studios, CSX Transportation (who operated the train), and Open Road Films (the owner of movie theatres Regal and AMC, which planned to distribute the film). Several crew members were also named in the wrongful death lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages for a litany of alleged safety violations that led to the train tearing through the movie set. Reportedly, the producers did not have permission from the railway to film on the tracks, and misled the crew regarding their safety. The producers did not, allegedly, take standard and required safety precautions, including failing to host a safety meeting before filming, no on-site medic, and failing to have a railway representative on site.

“By committing these acts, or failures to act, the ‘Midnight Rider’ defendants operated without minimum safety precautions and contrary to standard industry practices for productions of this scale and for productions involving dangerous filming conditions,” according to the suit, prepared by the Atlanta firm of Harris Penn Lowry.

“While the crew had been told they would have 60 seconds to remove themselves, the equipment, and the hospital bed from the trestle bridge, the train approached with a rapid speed and the crew had less than 60 seconds to react,” the lawsuit states.

The accident occurred on the first day of filming, and has prompted multiple investigations into both federal and state agencies.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in South Carolina

The unexpected loss of a loved is a very painful experience.  While mourning their loss, surviving family members are often with mounting medical bills, the loss of an income, and sudden expenses such as hospital bills and funeral costs.

If a loved one dies as a result of the negligence, reckless, or intentional conduct of another, you may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit asserts a claim against a person who can be held legally responsible for a death.  Surviving family members may be entitled to damages; money that can help with the expenses caused by the loss of their loved one.

Depending upon the circumstances, our South Carolina wrongful death attorneys may also assert a claim for punitive damages intended to punish the wrongdoer  and deter others from engaging in such behavior.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The wrongful death lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC, will help you during this extremely difficult and emotional time. You do not have to face the emotional and financial pain of a loved one’s wrongful death alone. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed through no fault of your own, contact the South Carolina wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free, no-cost consultation today. 803.252.4800

Train Accident Kills 82-year-old Grandmother

An 82-year-old woman was killed in a train accident in Orangeburg, SC when a car driven by her grandson was struck by a train.

The accident occurred when Jeremy Weatherford, who was driving with his grandmother, Susan Weatherford, decided to drive around a car that was stopped in front of the tracks, waiting for an oncoming train to pass. As he was maneuvering around the vehicle, his tires got stuck in the tracks and he was unable to move the car in time.

Jeremy escaped from the car before the train barreled through the driver’s side, carrying the vehicle 80 yards and ejecting Susan from the car. Her body was found about 40 yards from the collision.

The ODPS Accident Reconstruction Team report and the preliminary investigation both indicate that driver error was a contributing factor in the fatal crash, according to reporters.

“My plan was to just drive over the tracks and get out of there, but I couldn’t do that because my wheels got stuck in the tracks,” Jeremy said.

Police can only speculate why the young man decided to try and beat the train. It was only three cars long and would have taken no longer than a minute to pass.

South Carolina train accidents caused by an impatient driver cause heartache and regret for everyone involved. The serious injuries and death that can occur from a train accident are irreversible. Sparing an extra minute or two and waiting for a train to pass safely is always a better idea than trying to beat the train in a race.

Drivers often misjudge a train’s speed and think that it is traveling slower than it actually is. It’s important for drivers to always follow railroad crossing signs and never assume they will be able to cross the tracks in enough time.

By: South Carolina Auto Accident Lawyer Pete Strom

Mineral Springs Train Wreck Results in Fatality

South Carolina Train Accident Attorneys

How is it that in this day and age of technology, trains not have a GPS system alerting them to a problem ahead on the tracks?

Emergency crews have spent all day today clearing the debris from a train wreck that occurred in Mineral Springs, North Carolina.

Two CSX train crew members were killed and two others were injured when two freight trains collided in Union County, North Carolina.

The company’s spokesperson, Bob Sullivan, said one locomotive struck the other one from behind causing the train accident which occurred at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday Morning.  It is still unclear as to how fast the trains were traveling when the train wreck occurred.  According to reports, one train was stopped on the track.  However, it is unclear why the conductor was not notified that the other train was stopped ahead.

County officials said one of the railroad employees died at the scene and the other passed away at a medical center in Charlotte.  Two other crew members were treated at the crash site.

CSX officials said one train had 12 freight cars and was traveling from Atlanta, Georgia to Charlotte, North Carolina. The other had nine freight cars and was heading to Hamlet, North Carolina from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Both trains derailed and caused families in the five homes near the track to evacuate when a fire started.  Officials said no hazardous materials were involved.

If you need legal advice, we recommend that you seek the advice of a licensed attorney.  If you have any questions about this blog and/or need to talk with an attorney, contact us today for a free, no cost consultation to discuss your legal rights. At Strom Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys provide comprehensive legal services designed to protect your rights and your interests.  Our lawyers are licensed in South Carolina, New York, and Georgia.