The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Family to Get $6 Million for University Park Railroad Death

Performer and dance instructor Katie Lunn never saw the train coming when her car was struck at a University Park train crossing. Witnesses to the accident, including an Illinois state attorney, say that the train crossing gate did not go down, lights did not flash, and there were no other warnings of an approaching train.

In a wrongful death lawsuit brought against the Illinois Central Railroad Company, the railroad company agreed to settle the University Park railroad death with Lunn’s family for $6 million, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

In April 2010, Lunn was returning home from the American Dance Awards contest at Governors State University when she approached the Stuenkel Road crossing. Videos from the accident show a Chicago-bound Amtrak train barreling down the train tracks and a total absence of lights, bells, or other warnings that a train was coming, reports the Sun-Times. Witnesses to the accident confirmed the same thing.

Shortly before the deadly collision, it was reported that railroad crew members were performing work on the tracks. It's not clear what they were doing, but they may have been responsible for the warning signs not working.

Generally, in a wrongful death action, the plaintiffs have to show that the negligence or carelessness of the defendant resulted in the death. In this case, it seems pretty clear that the carelessness of the Illinois Central Railroad Company resulted in the warning signs not working and Katie Lunn's death. Even if the railroad workers did not turn off the warning devices, there is no other excuse for these warnings to have not worked. Instead of fighting a losing battle in court, the company decided to settle the case.

The family of Katie Lunn will receive $6 million for the University Park Railroad death. The warning signs should have been working, and if they had, Lunn would likely still be alive today.

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