A freight train, carrying tons of coal, derailed in the Glenview-Northbrook area on Wednesday afternoon. The bridge under the train also collapsed. At this point, it is uncertain what came first: the derailment or the collapse of the bridge. A railroad official is cited by the Chicago Sun-Times as stating that the derailment happened before the bridge collapsed. What we do know, however, is that at least one person died after being crushed by the bridge.
What started as a clean-up effort of tons of coal turned into an investigation when the clean-up crew found a bumper of a car. The discovery halted the clean-up and brought out the police. A few hours later, a body was recovered from a car that was crushed under the rubble. It is unknown if there are any additional bodies, but the search effort is ongoing.
Though the train apparently derailed before the actual bridge collapse, some are speculating that the bridge was at fault. Last year, the bridge was closed in June for over three months while repairs were made. Initially, the repairs were expected to be done in 60 days. However, the structure required more repairs than initially thought and the project was extended into October. Bridges are inspected bi-annually.
There is also a possibility that the extremely hot weather could have had something to do with the bridge's collapse. Temperatures reached 102 degrees on Wednesday.
Finding out which caused the other, between the derailment and the bridge collapse, could prove to be very important when it comes time to assign damages for the death of the driver, damage to the street, neighborhood, neighboring businesses, and cleanup costs.
If the train caused the accident, the owner of the train could be liable. If it was the bridge, the Glenview Public Works, and possibly the county and state, could be liable. There is also the possibility, if no determination of fault between the two is able to be made, that they would both be liable under the concept of joint and several liability.
Under the joint and several liability theory, the railroad and those responsible for the bridge are liable for the whole amount. If one party pays the entire bill, it can go after the other party for the second party's respective share.
- Discuss Your Case with a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Body found in car under wreckage of train derailment (Fox Chicago)
- The CTA Is Using High-Tech To Prevent Derailments (FindLaw's Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog)
- Amtrak Train Derailment, Chicago to SF Line (FindLaw's Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog)