Recovering Damages After Virginia Train Accident

Not all traffic accidents involve two people driving cars. Drivers may suffer an accident involving public transportation, including trains and light rails. When a train conductor fails to exercise ordinary care, both passengers and other drivers on the road may suffer the consequences. To bring a successful negligence lawsuit after a Virginia train accident, it is crucial to understand the rules for recovery when the responsible party is a public transportation department.

According to a recent news article, a teenager died after a train accident in Linthicum, Maryland. The accident occurred as automatic roadway gates began to lower and block traffic for the light rail train to pass. Before the roadway fully closed, the train conductor entered the intersection, colliding with the passenger side of a sedan. The driver died at the scene. The railroad conductor was unharmed. Initially, investigators believed the accident occurred when the driver failed to heed warning signals that the roadway gates were closing. However, upon further investigation, officers found the conductor caused the driver’s death by entering the intersection before the roadway could close. As a result, officers charged the conductor with negligent manslaughter, criminal negligence, and reckless endangerment.

Can You Sue for Civil Damages After Criminal Charges?

Because criminal and civil cases are separate actions, you can bring a civil negligence lawsuit for damages against a defendant who is facing criminal penalties; a criminal case does not bar your civil claim. This is true even if the criminal penalties include fines, which remain district from a civil damages award to a winning plaintiff. Additionally, the lower burden of proof in civil cases may result in a different outcome from a criminal trial. Even if a jury finds a defendant not guilty in a criminal case, a jury in a negligence lawsuit could find that defendant liable for civil damages.

Can You Sue an Employer for an Employee’s Negligence?

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a plaintiff can sue an employer for an employee’s negligence if the employee was operating in the scope of their employment during the accident. Typically, employees act within the scope of employment when they are working on their designated worksite during usual business hours and performing some action in furtherance of the employer’s business. If a plaintiff can show an employee was acting within the scope of employment, they can hold the employer liable for the employee’s actions. However, Virginia law includes an exception when the employer is the government, including departments that operate trains and other public transit. These government agencies enjoy immunity from negligence lawsuits involving the conduct of government employees. However, the government sometimes chooses to waive its immunity to recognize accountability for serious harm an employee may cause to the public.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Train Accident?

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or died in a Virginia train accident, contact The Schupak Law Firm today to discuss your case. Our skilled attorneys possess years of experience handling Virginia personal injury claims. Our team understands the complex rules of recovery against government actors. Through our dedicated representation, we can help secure the compensation you need and deserve. To set up a free consultation, call 240-833-3914.


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