A judge has awarded families an additional $4 million to the families of four victims killed when their truck was struck by a train at a railroad crossing. Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Corporation claimed that the railroad accident was caused by the car driver, who, in the words of the railroad, ignored the crossing signal and tried to beat the crossing gate. However, both a jury and a judge decided that the accident was the fault of BNSF because the crossing gate wasn’t working properly.
The jury found that the railroad was 90 percent responsible for the accident. The judge found that the railroad company intentionally lost or manufactured evidence, interfered with investigation of the accident, and made false or misleading statements to conceal the malfunctioning crossing gate. Although the railroad attempted to explain away its alternate versions of the facts in terms of innocent mistakes or mere accidents, the judge was convinced that BNSF had attempted a systematic misrepresentation of the events. Although the award is far short of the $45 million requested in punitive damages, it is still a significant deterrent to other corporations that might seek to protect themselves by concealing evidence.
To protect its case, the railroad lost or destroyed a computer disk that recorded data about the circumstances of the crash. A laptop that contained the data was also destroyed. The railroad also failed to reveal that it had previously known about problems at the crossing. The railroad also destroyed documents related to work done on the track at the crossing.
A personal injury lawsuit is often about more than damages to help cover your personal loses or compensate you for losses. It is often about telling the truth about accidents when powerful voices are speaking lies. In court, you have the power to be heard and to expose the misconduct of corporations and individuals, no matter how powerful.
If you have been hurt in a railroad accident or any other accident, the personal injury lawyers at Robert W. Kerpsack, L.P.A. can help you tell your story. Please call or email us today for a free initial consultation.