In a devastating turn of events on the afternoon of October 19, 2023, a Brightline passenger train was involved in a fatal collision with a 60-year-old woman in Melbourne, Florida. Authorities located the body near the eastern periphery of the train tracks close to U.S. Route 1.
The fatal event occurred approximately at 2:45 p.m., close to the cross-section of Aurora Road and Cypress Avenue. Law enforcement promptly arrived at the scene to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. This marks the first death in Brevard County that has been attributed to Brightline, a privately-owned train service, as confirmed by Melbourne police officials.
The victim has been identified as Lisa Marie Molnar, a Melbourne, Florida resident. Following the incident, Melbourne police temporarily halted a Brightline train on the tracks between Aurora Road and Eau Gallie Boulevard. Law enforcement officials also diverted eastbound traffic from Aurora Road at the railway crossing, guiding vehicles down Southland Avenue. The area was later reopened to traffic around 5 p.m.
While it is still unclear if any other individuals were injured in the collision, the medical examiner's office has been engaged to collect the remains and will be undertaking a detailed investigation into the incident. Efforts are underway to reach out to the deceased's next of kin.
Brightline operates a number of high-speed passenger trains connecting Miami to Orlando, at times utilizing tracks that are also used by Florida East Coast Roadway. Although the train line doesn't service Brevard County with designated stops, cautionary signage and notifications have been deployed in the county to alert residents of the fast-approaching trains, particularly in pedestrian-heavy zones like downtown Melbourne.
Florida’s Brightline Railroad is One of the Nation’s Deadliest Railroads
Brightline has been ranked among the U.S. rail companies with the most deaths since 2017. According to records from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration, Brightline has been linked to at least 97 deaths across three Florida counties since it commenced operations in 2017. Specifically, there were 44 deaths in Broward County, 33 in Palm Beach, and 20 in Miami-Dade involving Brightline trains.
What to Do After Getting Injured in a Collision Involving a Brightline Train
If you or a loved one has been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident with a Brightline train, it is crucial to understand the immediate and subsequent steps to take in order to protect your rights and secure just compensation for your injuries. Train accidents are complex events that can cause severe bodily harm, emotional trauma, and significant financial burden. In such dire circumstances, having a well-defined course of action is invaluable. Here are some steps for what you can do following a collision involving a Brightline train to protect your rights:
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
First and foremost, your health and well-being are the top priority. If you are injured, call for emergency medical assistance right away. Even if your injuries appear minor, you should still undergo a thorough medical evaluation. Injuries may not manifest immediately and documentation of any medical treatment is vital for potential legal actions.
Contact Law Enforcement
It is imperative to report the accident to the police. A formal police report serves as an objective account of the incident, providing valuable evidence for your case. Make sure you obtain a copy of this report for your records.
Gather Evidence at the Scene
If you are able, collect as much evidence as possible from the accident site. This can include photographs of your injuries, the train, and the surrounding environment, as well as any other factors that might have contributed to the accident, like broken warning signs or signals. Eyewitness accounts can also be beneficial; therefore, try to get contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident.
Notify the Rail Company
Formally notifying Brightline or the operating rail service about the incident is crucial. However, be cautious when dealing with company representatives or insurance adjusters, and do not provide recorded statements without consulting with a legal professional. The goal of the insurance company is to get you to say something they can use to deny or minimize your claim. They’re not looking out for you; they’re against you.
Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Train accident cases involve a myriad of intricate details and require the utmost care and attention from your attorney. Train accident cases cannot be treated like “just another case.” There’s often a lot of money at stake, and the companies are powerful. At the same time, train accident news is not good for these companies, so they may be very interested in getting a case resolved to avoid publicity. Your lawyer can work with you and guide you through the complex legal landscape, including dealing with insurance companies, gathering evidence, and representing you in legal proceedings.
Maintain All Medical and Expense Records
Keep a meticulous record of all medical treatments, consultations, and expenses related to your medical treatment after the accident. These documents can serve as compelling evidence to support your claim for compensation.
Only Talk About the Train Accident with Your Attorney
Anything you say could potentially be used against you in your personal injury claim. Hence, you should refrain from discussing the accident or your injuries with anyone other than your attorney and medical providers. Whatever you do, do not post about your train accident on social media.
Follow Legal and Medical Advice Diligently
Your attorney and medical providers are experienced professionals who have your best interests at heart. Adhere to their recommendations carefully to enhance the likelihood of a successful recovery, both medically and legally.Being involved in a train collision is a traumatic experience that comes with a unique set of challenges and complexities. While it is natural to feel overwhelmed, taking the above steps can provide some clarity during a tumultuous time and position you for the best possible outcome in your personal injury case.