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Train Accident Causes 4 Deaths in Independence, Louisiana – What Are the Legal Rights of the Victims’ Families?

By J. Rock Palermo, Attorney, Roy S. Dickinson, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

Railroad crossings can be quite dangerous especially ones without lights and gates to warn or alert motorist of the approach of a train. There are thousands upon thousands of railroad crossing areas that are not properly equipped with gates and lights. Without such safety precautions and due warning to drivers, deaths and personal injuries related to train / automobile accidents continue to take place in Louisiana and other States. Train industry experts opine that railroad lights and gates are at least 90 percent effective in preventing railroad / train accidents with automobiles. Often times, railroad companies do not take any action until they are required to or until they get some kind of federal or public assistance to fund these basic and necessary railroad safety precautions.

In Independence, Louisiana, 4 family members / siblings were killed in a recent train accident. The railroad accident involved an Amtrak train known as the “City of New Orleans” when it struck the vehicle occupied by the children (ages 18 and younger) at an ungated railroad crossing. The children were identified as Emelia Alfaro (age 18), Eduardo Alfaro (age 16), Joel Alfaro (age 13), and Israel Alfaro (age 12). It was reported that Emelia Alfaro was 7 months pregnant at the time of the train accident. What a tragedy for the parents / grandparents of these children! The incident was reported and investigated in part by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s department.

Due to the incident which resulted in deaths, there will be an investigation by local, state and Federal authorities as to the cause and preventability of this train accident. Of course, the family is not bound or restricted by this investigation. The family has the right to retain its own civil Louisiana personal injury lawyer to handle this matter and conduct its own investigation.

A thorough investigation would include an analysis of the scene, government reports and investigations, photographs, videotape, and an engineering or technical analysis of the incident or accident as well as witness statements.

There may be a legal case to pursue if it can be shown that there was negligence on the part of the train conductor, Amtrak, or other entities that had control over the train or railroad crossing area.

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