In neighboring Maryland, a recent train derailment resulted in tragedy: two 19-year old college students who were drinking and socializing near the tracks were killed. The train was traveling from West Virginia to Baltimore when its two-dozen cars flipped over on a bridge in the historic town of Ellicott City. Students Rose Louese Mayra and Elizabeth Conway Nass had posted tweets from the bridge shortly before the accident.
At present, it is not clear what caused the derailment. The train was moving at 25 miles per hour, and investigators intend to view the onboard video cameras for clues. The derailment caused several train cars to fall off of the bridge onto parked cars below. In addition, one hundred pounds of coal fell into the Patapsco River, an important Maryland waterway, while more lay along the edge of the tributary. The Maryland Department of the Environment expressed concern that the coal could boost the water’s level of acidity to harmful levels. While the parking lot below the bridge and surrounding area were popular gathering places for local teenagers, there were no other reports of injury or death. The two conductors on the train managed to escape unharmed.
We at the Wolfe Law Firm express condolences for the deaths of the two college students, and hope that a similar tragedy does not strike in West Virginia. If it did, the company running the train would likely find itself faced with several lawsuits. First there would be wrongful death suits filed by families of the deceased. A family that hires a West Virginia wrongful death attorney would argue that the train company and its operators had a duty to operate the train safely, but breached that duty by failing to reasonably follow safety rules. Maybe the train operators were allegedly drinking on the job, or maybe the train company failed to get the trains inspected regularly. The alleged breach caused your loved one injury and resulted in his or her death. In addition to these parties, a family might sue any involved third party, such as a maintenance company, if its failures played a role in the tragic event.
Besides the families of the deceased, those who suffered property damage — a smashed car — would also have a claim. You would argue that you were owed an amount that was based on the difference between what the car was worth before the accident and what it was worth after repairs, as well as the cost of repair. To determine what the car was worth before the accident, you would likely need to provide records of the car’s year, make, and model number. The Kelley Blue Book is often a helpful source for determining an older car’s general value, although it does not take into account every individual feature. To determine the car’s value after repairs, you might want to consider having an assessor come and do a detailed assessment of the car. You could present the related documents as part of your case. As with the families of people killed by the derailment, you could sue the train company, the operators, and any third party that was involved. Since your lack of fault for the accident would be very easy to prove, you would likely have a successful case.