On September 12, 2008, the Metrolink commuter train left Union Station in downtown Los Angeles at 3:35 p.m., bound for Moorpark. Aboard the train were many regulars, including many downtown workers who used the train on a daily basis to get to and from work. These people are and were good citizens because they help to avoid pollution and traffic congestion, and ride the train at the encouragement of the local government, its agencies and officials. It would have appeared to be a safe and secure way to travel, but this was not the case.The area around Stoney Point Park in Chatsworth, California, was chaotic and somber immediately after the commuter train and Union Pacific freight train collided less than an hour after it started its journey. The trains were crushed together like an accordion. It has been reported that the accident area smelled of engine transmission fluid, as dazed victims attempted to make sense out of what had just happened. Bodies were extricated and a triage area was set up to treat the wounded.At least 25 were killed, and over 135 were injured during the Friday afternoon rush hour train wreck. It was the deadliest rail disaster in 15 years, taking over twenty four hours to recover all the bodies. 81 passengers were transported to local hospitals, many in critical condition. But as with all tragic accidents, many questions remain unanswered. Was the engineer, who was operating the Metrolink train text messaging just before the accident? Could Positive Train Control technology, already in use in some parts of the country, have prevented the train crash? Was a Metrolink safety system at fault, or the failure of a faulty signal, or even engineer fatigue?Although a spokesperson for Metrolink, Ms. Denise Tyrrell, has stated that the probable cause of the accident was failure of the engineer to stop for a red signal, a National Transportation Safety Board member, Kitty Higgins, cautioned that it was too early to establish the cause of the accident. Since making the statement, Ms. Tyrrell has resigned her position. Some say that Los Angeles’ Metrolink railroad system has one of the worst commuter rail fatality records in the United States.
In 2005, a Metrolink crash killed 11 people. As of this date, there are no regulations making it illegal for engineers to use cell phones while operating a train, and it is only now that the California Public Utilities Commission will vote on enacting such a regulation.
There is no doubt that wherever blame lies for this catastrophic accident, nothing will fully make up for the loss of life and the injuries, both physical and emotional, sustained by the victims and their loved ones. The attorneys at Binder & Associates extend our profound condolences to all the victims of this accident, and hope for a full and speedy recovery to all the survivors. At times like these words alone carry little solace, and it can only be hoped that as a result of this tragedy all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that this accident will not be repeated in the future.
Our law firm has been actively involved in prior Metrolink and freight train accidents, and are committed to investigating this accident to the fullest extent. Our attorneys have worked closely on other cases with the National Transportation Safety Board, and other federal, state, county, and local agencies, and have experience with investigating and obtaining justice on cases of this magnitude. Our firm has over 35 years of experience in personal injury litigation, and has recovered nearly $100 Million in verdicts and settlements.
If you have been injured in the Chatsworth Metrolink train accident, you need an attorney with experience dealing with a case of this magnitude. You need a lawyer that has dealt with the nuances and intricacies of this type of case. Let us put our nearly 50 years of combined legal experience to work for you. Our attorneys and staff are ready, willing and able to serve you, and you can reach us for a free consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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