On Friday, April 26th 91-year-old Claudette Miller was killed and several people were injured when a freight train hit a small BART bus in Evans City, Pennsylvania. According to the train’s engineer, the bus had stopped on the tracks and was thrown several feet by the collision.
Police believe the engineer sounded the train whistle and applied the brakes as soon as he saw the bus on the tracks, but there simply was not enough stopping distance to avoid the accident.
Frank Schaffner, the driver of the bus, was treated and released from the hospital. The police drew a sample of his blood to be tested in an effort to determine if he was under the influence at the time if stopped the bus on the tracks. Thick fog at the time of the accident is also a factor police are considering.
Assigning responsibility for a train accident involving more than one party can be especially difficult. The greater the number of factors and individuals that are involved in a railroad accident, the harder it is to properly identify all the parties responsible. This is important since properly investigating an accident and determining which party or parties are responsible are the first steps in pursuing a suit for damages.
In most cases not only the parties directly involved in the accident may be liable for the damages caused. Others may include the owner of the train, the owner of the tracks and any government entities responsible for the railroad crossing including the city, county and state.
Since railway accidents require specific knowledge of railroad injury law and experience recognizing potentially responsible parties, it is important to have an attorney specializing in this field work on your behalf.