Pedestrian Train Accident Cases We've Litigated

St. Paul, Minnesota

Joe Sayler represented a nine-year-old boy who lost both of his feet while playing by BNSF tracks in St. Paul, Minnesota. The railroad was aware that elementary-aged children routinely played and even built forts in this area. Highly visible footpaths crossing over the tracks had been used for more than fifty years. Other injuries and deaths had occurred in the area, but still the railroad refused to construct fences or take any engineering action—despite a Minnesota law requiring them to fence off their tracks and right-of-way.

Sayler determined this key information during discovery, and therefore was able to recover enough compensation to take care of the boy’s lifetime medical and living expenses. BNSF still has not fenced off the tracks.

San Leandro, California

Brittney Silva was struck and killed by a train at a skewed crossing in San Leandro, California, just weeks before her high school graduation. Other pedestrians had been killed at this same crossing.

Through diligent and hard-fought work, the team at Bolt Hoffer Boyd uncovered that the railroad had received funds from the federal government years before to correct the hazardous crossing. Instead, the railroad sat on these funds rather than fix the crossing.

Working backward from a single photograph, we were also able to prove that the pedestrian warnings at the crossing had been improperly installed and did not provide adequate warning to pedestrians. This violated both California and federal laws. The railroad was quick to accuse Brittney of using her cell phone at the time of the accident, even reporting this to the media. We discredited this accusation by accessing cell phone records and reconstructing the accident.

The crossing has since been corrected and updated with proper pedestrian safety warnings.

Florida

The Florida East Coast Railway runs along the state’s highly-populated coast from Jacksonville to Miami. Because its tracks run through communities, often dividing neighborhoods in half, numerous pedestrian injuries and deaths have occurred.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics show that more than 158 pedestrians have been killed on FEC’s tracks in the last ten years, or nearly one person for every two miles of track. This is more pedestrian fatalities on FEC rights-of-way in the last ten years than CSX and Amtrak combined, two railroads that operate thousands of miles of track in Florida compared to FEC’s 387.

The FRA has studied that situation, and declared that “trespassing is an epidemic on FEC’s right-of-way” and recommended that FEC construct fences or other barriers to protect pedestrians. The study has been widely reported. FEC, along with Class 1 railroads such as BNSF, Union Pacific, and Norfolk Southern, have attended trespass prevention workshops at which the study was discussed.

Despite this study, the workshops, and recommendations for fencing or other barriers, FEC has not fenced its track. Pedestrian fatalities and injuries continue to occur. In 2017, All Aboard Florida, which is owned by the same hedge fund as FEC, will begin operating high-speed trains on the same tracks and corridor as FEC’s freight operations.

Bolt Hoffer Boyd attorney Joe Saylor is currently working on multiple FEC cases.

For more information on these or other case studies, contact the experienced railroad attorneys of Bolt Hoffer Boyd.