In February of 2015, a Metro North train headed to the Dutchess County hamlet of Wassaic was involved in a tragic accident when an SUV stuck on the tracks caused the train to derail, killing the driver and five train passengers. Now, the family of SUV driver Ellen Brody has made plans to bring a lawsuit against Metro North. The notice of claim asserts that flaws in the design of the crossing were in fact responsible for the accident, not Brody. Attorneys for Brody’s widower, Alan, and their three daughters claim that there was insufficient warning for drivers that a railroad crossing was present. He cited a number of contributors to the poor notice of a crossing, including bad sight lines, as well as insufficient signage and lighting when the early evening accident occurred. In fact, the lawsuit will attempt to show that Brody’s first warning of the presence of a rail crossing was when a crossing gate lowered on the back of Brody’s vehicle. Brody allegedly had not driven in stop-and-go traffic near this crossing before, and is believed to have unexpectedly found herself stopped on the crossing. When the crossing gate landed on the back of Brody’s car, she exited her vehicle to inspect where the gate had landed. The Brody family’s attorneys posited that, without realizing that the crossing gates are designed to be broken by a car, she felt trapped by the gate. She got back in the car and drove forward, and was then struck by the oncoming train. The impact caused the third rail to fly up and through the first car of the train, and caused the SUV to burst into flames.
There is some support for the argument that the warning mechanisms for this particular rail crossing were insufficient—and that Metro North was aware that the crossing was due for an upgrade. According to Brody’s attorneys, an assessment conducted by the New York Department of Transportation led to a conclusion that roughly $130,000 was needed to upgrade the warning mechanisms at this particular crossing. However, the upgrade was never completed. The crossing was also the site of a fatal accident in 1984 where a cable company worker’s van was struck by an oncoming train.
New York Has Short Time Frame for Claims Against Transportation Authorities
In order to file a claim against a public entity, a plaintiff must first file a notice of claim with the entity. The deadline for notices of claim to be filed in regards to this particular accident has recently passed; filing such a notice preserves the party’s right to sue. The widow of one of the deceased passengers also filed a notice of claim that cited flawed design of the rail crossing as a factor in the crash. Two other families of victims of the crash have expressed an intent to sue, as well.
If you or a family member has been killed or injured in an accident involving a train, there are attorneys who can help. For experienced and compassionate legal representation in your Hudson Valley personal injury or accident claim, contact the attorneys at Basch & Keegan. Call today for a free consultation on your claim: (845) 251-4545.