San Jose-area pedestrian killed in train accident

Posted on in Wrongful Death

Taking commuter trains, such as California's Caltrain rail line, can make life much easier for those who live in suburban areas but work in cities. Trains allow people to travel quickly and free of the vehicular traffic found on highways. However, trains are not immune from accidents, including pedestrian accidents. Such accidents can devastating.

Recently, a Palo Alto pedestrian was struck and killed by a northbound train. The accident happened at a crossing between Palo Alto and Mountain View. The incident, which happened at about 6:50 a.m., caused a 90 minute delay. According to Caltrain, trains were making all stops, but were slowed to 10 miles per hour between stations.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis, there were 121 highway-rail incidents in California in 2012. Of these, about 29 percent of the incidents involved a fatality.

In many circumstances, where a pedestrian has been injured by a moving vehicle, the driver or operator could be found liable if the driver or operator was negligent. However, a pedestrian must also exercise reasonable care for his own safety. This means avoiding dangerous situations and reasonably anticipated danger-for instance, by using marked crosswalks and crossing only when the "walk" signal is displayed. Many train crossings generally have signals or gates to alert pedestrians and vehicles alike when a train is coming and when it is unsafe to cross. Failing to heed these signals may constitute pedestrian negligence that contributes to the injury.

This tragic death is the fifth death of a pedestrian on Caltrain tracks this year; there have been three fatalities in Palo Alto alone. Authorities are still investigating the death, and have not yet determined whether it was accidental.

Source:, "Caltrain Victim Identified as Palo Alto Man," Beatrice Karnes, March 28, 2013

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