Last July 4th a couple was killed when a Union Pacific Bridge collapsed in Glenview, a suburban community north of Chicago. As reported in the Daily Herald last year, the husband and wife lived only a mile from the accident site. Their son, who is a personal injury attorney and was in a law practice with his father at the time of the bridge collapse, brought a wrongful death action against Union Pacific Railroad Co., alleging negligence and carelessness. Plaintiff argued that the tracks were not appropriately inspected and maintained. The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages for each victim.
Families of loved ones, who have been killed in an accident caused by the negligence of another, may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. In such wrongful death cases, where plaintiffs are alleging negligence on the part of another, there are many intricate details to investigate and prove. If you are considering the possibility of bringing a negligence-based wrongful death suit, it is important to contact a local injury attorney with experience handling such matters.
According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, a year after the tragic accident, the road is still blocked where the bridge collapsed. Preliminary reports indicated that extreme heat created kinks in the rails, leading to the derailment that caused the collapse. Apparently, the investigation into what caused the bridge to collapse is still ongoing. The couple’s son expressed frustration that Union Pacific has failed to expedite the investigation into the cause of the collapse. A spokesman from Union Pacific confirmed that the investigation by the company, as well as the Federal Railroad Administration, is not over, and that they are not certain when it will be. They want to be sure that the preliminary cause is correct before closing the investigation.
Ascertaining the preliminary cause of any negligence case is of supreme significance. Without evidence that the defendant acted in a negligent manner, there would be no such viable action. When a wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the part of the defendant, the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct. The most common beneficiaries or dependents are surviving spouses and children, and sometimes parents. In 2007, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act was amended to afford plaintiffs the right to seek recovery for grief, sorrow and mental suffering. Prior to this amendment, Illinois plaintiffs were able to bring an action only for economic damages, such as loss of wages and funeral costs. Now, victims have the opportunity to present evidence specifically addressing one’s grief, sorrow and the mental suffering of a parent, spouse or other family member.
Wrongful death claims are complicated and emotionally trying. The laws concerning eligibility for recovery (including economic versus non-economic damages) vary from state to state. The importance of teaming with a local personal injury attorney, with a measured degree of experience, cannot be overstated.