Mother of Children Injured in Railroad Crossing Accident Receives Sizable Settlements | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Two children who were younger than 5 years old suffered serious injuries when the car in which they were riding got hit by a Norfolk Southern freight train. The crash happened at a railroad crossing in Prince William County, Virginia (VA), that was on privately owned land and which was not controlled by gates.

The boys who got hurt are brothers, and they were being driven to daycare at around 6:30 am. Their car was struck on its rear quarter panel by the train, which the driver described as coming “out of nowhere.” The train crew did not sound the locomotive’s horn and whistle when approaching the crossing.

The impact spun the car around and knocked it into a ditch. After both children were flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital with numerous injuries, one of the young boys was diagnosed with an orbital skull fracture, or broken eye socket.

Even though the injured toddlers’ father was driving at the time of the wreck, their mother hired our Virginia personal injury law firm to help her pursue insurance claims. Evidence gathered from the scene and a close review of state laws regarding grade crossings on private property also allowed our plaintiff’s attorney to file claims against Norfolk Southern, which owned the tracks.

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Key Legal Strategy

Our Virginia personal injury attorney relied on his extensive experience handling both railroad injury cases and car accident insurance claims when collecting evidence to support the claims filed on behalf of the injured children.

Measurements and photographs of the train track crossing, a review of state regulations regarding what train crews should do at private crossings, and testimony from the boys’ father showed that both the driver and Norfolk Southern could be found liable. Particularly important pieces of evidence were pictures of trees and brush blocking sightlines along the tracks. These corroborated the statement from the father that since he never saw the train, he had no real chance to avoid a collision.

State Farm, the driver’s insurance company, agreed to settle the personal injury claims for the brothers for $50,000.00 and $29,000.00. The larger of the two payments went to the boy with the skull fracture.

Norfolk Southern also settled before going to trial, paying the family $32,000 and $22,000. The total received in compensation and damages was $133,000.

In Virginia and elsewhere across the United States, a parent or legal guardian must file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a child who is younger than 18. Whether a boy or girl’s injuries result from railroad crossing accidents, car crashes, medical malpractice or dangerous and defective products, our Virginia plaintiff’s attorneys are always willing to work with families to hold negligent and reckless parties accountable.

Courts and Dates: Richmond Circuit Court, Richmond, VA, April 2006, Norfolk Circuit Court, Norfolk, VA, May 2006

Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, attorney