Girardi | Keese

Woman killed by Amtrak train: Wrongful death issues?

Train accidents can often have unfortunate if not tragic results, especially in situations where pedestrians are directly struck or hit by flying debris. Terrible accidents like this leave family members feeling robbed, as many believe that people are supposed to die from natural causes rather than tragic collisions. When an individual or business steals years from someone's life, there can be an obligation to pay financial compensation, to both surviving victims and their families. The decedent's family may have the right to file a wrongful death claim even if there is no clear case of negligence.

The investigation of a recent death of a California woman hit by an Amtrak train while waiting on a platform is ongoing. Authorities reportedly mentioned the possible use of a cell phone or other electronic device. They did not mention who might have been using the device, the woman or the train operator, however.

It remains to be seen how this investigation will pan out. In a situation like this, families often want answers on how such an accident has occurred, and whether a train operator or the company employing him or her can be held responsible. In the event that there is proof of negligence in the train operator's behavior, signs that his behavior created danger to the passengers he was carrying, the family could potentially file civil action against him and his employer. If there is no proof of reckless behavior, the family may still pursue formal litigation based on a negotiation claim for damages since it could be argued that the driver of the train had time to avoid an accident.

Regardless of what the official California investigation turns up, the family may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim on its own. Personal injury law typically provides surviving families the right to file civil actions in order to seek restitution for the final costs and other monetary damages that are typically incurred by unexpected deaths. Nothing takes away the sadness and grief of losing a loved one, but financial compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit can help a family move forward after the financial strain that such a loss may have caused.

Source:, UPDATE: Woman struck by Amtrak train was UC Davis grad, Tillie Fong, Nov. 4, 2013

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