When I was 5 years old, I wanted what millions of other children dreamed of – a set of “choo-choo” trains, complete with an engine, tracks, freight cars, and all the other railroad paraphernalia that make up a toy train set. Wow! To see such trains featured in toy departments in stores like Macy’s, filled a child’s happiest hour. But trains were expensive and most working families couldn’t afford them, including ours. However, the joyful memories of seeing miniature trains move quickly on little metal tracks over hills, valleys, tunnels, and crossings, were images that would live on in a child’s mind. They would become wonderful memories that only a youngster knows, that in many cases would be extended well into adulthood.
But who at the age of innocence could ever imagine that the revered and magical small trains could one day end up with tragic accidents? In real life, those magical train sets contain huge and fast objects – enormous engines and passenger and freight cars. Let’s pause and look at some reported statistics.
With approximately 6,000 train and car accidents each year, and with deaths and injuries in the thousands, the fascination we held of trains as children yields to the horror of what at times occurs in the real world. All of which sadly reminds me of a case in which I represented a young wife and mother of two little children whose husband and daddy, a cable technician, was traveling on his way to a homeowner who required some TV repair work. To get to his appointment, he had to pass through a railroad crossing. As his van was proceeding across the tracks, a speeding train crashed into his vehicle dragging it more than 3,000 feet before it could come to a full stop. The young technician did not survive the crash, leaving his young wife a widow, and his two children without a father. What caused this horrible accident? A full investigation disclosed that the railroad crossing sign on the roadway, located several hundred feet from the crossing, was partially hidden by overgrown brush. Further, the road leading to the crossing was curved, and with tall trees along the roadway blocking the victim’s line of sight. In addition, there were no gates or lights at the crossing, and the train was traveling at a high speed. All considered, the young husband and father was caught in a sudden death trap not of his making. There are hundreds of tragic stories that mimic the one described, leading to accidents and death involving trains and car crashes.
Similarly, subway trains operated by municipal authorities, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), can also pose a serious problem for passengers, but in different ways. For example, the engineer dozes off, or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and fails to respond to certain posted warning signals. Or, the train is brought to a sudden halt through a human or mechanical error. Or, the train doors close forcefully upon a passenger. Or, the steps leading from the street level down to the subway below are in disrepair and cause a serious slip and fall accident. And the sad tales of subway neglect that cause passenger accidents go on and on.
It is quite amazing how what gave children such unbridled joy watching the toy “choo-choo” trains were but the youthful memories that fall within the pure innocence of childhood.
At Finz & Finz, P.C., we understand the tragedy that can result from a train or subway accident, and unfortunately, many victims suffer catastrophic life-changing injuries, or even death. When you engage Finz & Finz, P.C., you can trust that our skilled and compassionate attorneys will fully investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the train or subway accident to identify what, exactly, went wrong and ensure that you are able to seek the full justice that you deserve.
- “HAPPY MEMORIES CHALLENGE THE STRAINS OF SADNESS, JUST AS SMALL STEPS OF JOY CAN SOMETIMES LEAD TO GIANT LEAPS OF TRAGEDY.”
Leonard L. Finz, age 96, is a decorated WWII veteran (1st Lt., Field Artillery, Philippines), a former New York State Supreme Court Justice, Peer-Reviewed as “One of America’s Preeminent Lawyers”, and the Founder of Finz & Finz, P.C