Suggestions For Survivors and Families
The Metrolink passenger train that crashed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, California in the San Fernando Valley yesterday, September 12th, 2008, is still being searched this morning by rescue crews using heavy machinery in the hopes of finding more survivors.
At the time that this blog article was published, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that at least 24 people have been killed and more than 135 of the trains 225 passengers have been injured. Over 100 passengers have been transported to hospitals, 60 by ambulance and 40 by helicopter according to the same report. The Los Angeles City Fire Department has reported that 45 people sustained critical injuries.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa confirmed the number of dead at a Saturday morning news conference near the scene of the deadly crash. He also said more than 80 of the injured were in hospitals.
This morning Mario Rueda a Los Angeles City Fire official stated that the likelihood of anyone remaining alive in the wreckage of the derailed trains is very remote according to KTLA News. The same news report stated that officials expect the death toll to mount as the rescue effort and clean up continue.
Legal Issues For Survivors and The Families of the Deceased
Attend to the needs of the injured and make appropriate arrangements for the deceased. Your legal rights are already being looked into by my law firm and other personal injury law firms like ours throughout Southern California that have experience in railroad accident cases as well as a number of governmental agencies. There is nothing survivors and the families of the deceased need to do immediately regarding preserving their personal injury rights to compensation for their injuries and losses or investigating the train accident itself. Attend to the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of family members first.
Medical expenses for survivors and the deceased should be charged to whatever medical insurance, either private or through employment or government programs are available, before paying cash out of pocket (other than deductibles and co-pays). In most cases, I would suggest not paying cash out of pocket for medical expenses due to this train accident until consulting with a knowledgeable train accident attorney about your rights and options, if paying the expenses will cause a financial hardship. Some expenses may not be your financial obligation to pay. Some may be covered through various forms of insurance. All will eventually be recoverable from those agencies responsible for the train collision.
Keep track of all expenses and losses incurred. Keep receipts. Keep notes of hardships, challenges, suffering and out-of-pocket expenses for later claims. Many claimants will use a calendar to make daily notes in order that nothing is forgotten and the full measure of damages can be recovered.
Burial and funeral expenses are recoverable in a wrongful death action against those legally responsible for the death of a family member. Such expenses are traditionally paid in advance of services and long before any financial recovery is received from those responsible for a loved one’s death.
Lost income due to injuries caused sustained in the Chatsworth train collision are recoverable from the parties at fault along with all other traditional California personal injury “damages”, such as “pain & suffering”, emotional upset, scaring, disfigurement, therapy, prescription medication, out-of-pocket expenses and so on.
A wrongful death claim is available to the next of kin and the estate of those fatally injured in this train accident. Economic and non-economic damages can be recovered. Next of kin include family members such as a spouse, child, parent and siblings, in that order. If a parent died, the surviving spouse, children and any one receiving financial assistance from the decedent have claims. A plaintiff in a wrongful death claim may recover funeral and burial expenses, loss of income from the decedent, the decedents’ medical expenses, loss of household support, loss of relationship, mental anguish and suffering. The surviving spouse is entitled compensation for loss of the relationship, known as “loss of consortium”.
Continue reading →