In January of 2005, hundreds of people were injured when a Norfolk Southern train with 42 cars veered off the main line and crashed into a parked train on a side track in Graniteville, South Carolina. The train accident caused a chemical spill as one of the cars that was ruptured in the wreck had been carrying chlorine.
Nine people were killed in the accident, 250 were injured and the small town of Graniteville was forced to evacuate because of the dangerous cloud of poisonous chemicals that developed. After an investigation, it was determined that the wreck occurred because the crew of the parked train had neglected to switch the tracks back to the main railway.
Following the wreck, there were two class-action lawsuits against Norfolk Southern seeking millions of dollars that were settled outside of court, and the United States Department of Justice brought an action against the train company for environmental damages. In addition, some victims elected to file an individual personal injury claim against Norfolk Southern, rather than taking part in a class-action.
Last week, South Carolina Now reported that a South Carolina jury recently decided on an award for one of the victims who sued Norfolk Southern individually for injuries he sustained in the accident. In that case, the jury awarded the man $275,000 in damages after the man claimed permanent lung injuries resulting from the wreck.
When there is an accident that occurs because of the negligence of some person or entity, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit often results in effort to compensate those who have suffered. Sometimes when there are many victims involved in the accident, such as with this train wreck, it is easier to band together as a group to sue the negligent party in a class-action lawsuit.
However, people may also choose not to take part in the class-action for personal injury matter, which could potentially lead to a higher or lower award for them. To make a decision whether or not to join a class action, it is always best to get the advice of an attorney you trust who can help weigh the possible outcomes.