WSAZ reports that a train collided with a pick-up truck in Wayne County, West Virginia last week that resulted in the death of two people. Evidently, the locomotive was traveling at full speed when it struck the vehicle at a private railroad crossing along U.S. Route 52 near Whites Creek in the afternoon of March 19th. The cause of the accident is unknown, but it seems possible that the lack of signs, lights, or warnings at the crossing played a part in causing the collision. Emergency crews responded, but the truck was torn in half on impact and unfortunately neither the driver nor passenger survived.
We here at the Wolfe Law Firm wish to send our sincerest condolences to the family and friends who survive the victims of this terrible incident. There is much to deal with in the wake of such a crash, and while it may not be the first concern, filing a wrongful death action should be considered. Despite the fact that the incident described above occurred at an unmarked private railroad crossing — where West Virginia law doesn’t require signage — the family members may have a legal claim. In this instance, the owner of the private crossing may be liable for the lack of warnings around the crossing, and the train conductor (and the railroad company he works for) may be liable for operating the train in a negligent manner and failing to blow the train’s whistle before the crossing. An in-depth investigation of the events would be required to fully understand what caused the accident, but a West Virginia wrongful death attorney could conduct the necessary research to discover whether there is a valid legal claim.
No one can be fully compensated for the loss of a loved one, but West Virginia law does provide legal recourse for those who are so affected. If a member of your family has perished due to circumstances beyond their control, there may be a wrongful death claim. Not every situation gives rise to legal liability, but the only way to be sure is to consult with a qualified attorney. West Virginia law only allows such claims to be brought within a certain amount of time, and the sooner you speak with a lawyer, the better chance you have of successfully prosecuting a well-founded claim.