Although the train accident in Northwest Spain occurred a full ocean away, it still captured our attention, and our thoughts and hearts go out to the injured victims and mourning families. We are able to work with victims as a Panama City mass transit accident lawyer. In complex cases such as a massive train accident, we often employ an accident reconstruction expert to fully understand the accident, the cause, and who is to blame.
The accident, detailed by CNN, occurred around 8:45 P.M. on Wednesday, near the outskirts of the city of Santiago de Compostela, in the region of Galicia. Videos show that train cars derailing, hitting the side of a concrete support, and falling heavily on to their sides. Flames grew as one car broke in half. It happened as the express passenger train was approaching the end of a 6-hour trip from Madrid to Ferrol. CNN cited regional police who, as of Friday, put the death toll at a minimum of 78 people, although other reports mention 80 fatalities. The deaths include at least one American. As of Friday, 81 people were still being treated in area hospitals, with 31 (including 3 children) in critical condition.
Although investigations are ongoing, the focus continues to be on the train's speed. The driver is under official investigation, but police have not turned the case over to the judicial authorities. Jamie Iglesias, regional chief of police for Galicia, confirmed on Friday that the train driver had been place under police detention and listed recklessness in causing the accident as the justification. Spanish news sources have cited the driver as saying the train was travelling at approximately 190 km/hr. The speed limit on the curve is 80 km/h (50mph). Speed was cited in other reports as well, but no reason has been given for the high rate of speed.
Spain's royal family cancelled events on Thursday to observe a national day of mourning. Alberto Nunez Feijoo, head of Galicia's regional government, declared a seven-day period of mourning in the region.
When we work as a law firm for train accidents in Panama City and the surrounding areas, we often engage one or more accident reconstruction experts. These are specially-trained individuals, often engineers, who work backwards, trying to determine the cause of an accident based on what is left behind (i.e. skid marks, vehicle damage, injuries incurred).
Sometimes experts are employed as consultants only, meaning they are focused on helping our team understand the facts. In other cases, experts write in-depth reports and appear as witnesses if the case goes to trial. As we discussed on this blog in June, Florida evidence rules changed this year, and all expert testimony must be based in scientifically-sound principles. In addition to verbal testimony, experts may help create exhibits illustrating their conclusions. These re-creations must meet requirements set forth in both rules/statutes and case law.
Expert testimony is often critical in accident cases, including the various injury claims that might follow major train accident. Accident reconstruction experts help a judge or jury understand complex engineering concepts and other scientific principles. Their testimony can also provide a basis for finding fault and liability. However, experts are only useful when a lawyer understands the complicated rules that govern expert testimony.
Attorney Pittman has experience working with many types of expert witnesses in Florida's state and federal courts, including qualifying Panama City accident reconstruction experts. If you have been injured or lost a close relative in northwest Florida, please call to arrange a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and the role expert witnesses may play in your case.