The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hoboken Train Crash Highlights Importance of Tort Law System & Class Actions

Hoboken Train Crash Highlights Importance of Tort Law System & Class Actions

The horrific train crash that occurred in Hoboken last month was gut-wrenching to behold. So many of us have friends and family members that use that train line for their daily commute, that we couldn’t help but say glued to the live coverage. Thank goodness for text messages and social media, which allowed all of us to check in on loved ones right away!

While watching all of the action unfold, and getting updates from family and friends, it occurred to us that events like this are exactly why we do what we do.

When you go to law school you might have some vague idea that you want to use what you learn to help others, but exactly how that is going to work out is pretty fuzzy. Then you start to really get into your classes, and one of the first classes you take is Torts.

Torts. It’s not a word you see used very often unless you happen to be a pastry chef. But torts are far more than fancy deserts, they are one of the under-girding principles of our legal system.

A tort is “an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability.”  This is a fancy way of saying that a tort is a harm, and people or organizations that are responsible for causing harm can be made to pay.

Tort law in the United States is actually closely tied to the railroad industry. A lot of the most important cases, that pushed our law forward and provided protections to more people, involve train accidents in the tri-state area.

The family of the woman who was killed while standing on the platform and all of the other people who were injured in the crash will be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other claims thanks to the fact that other people who were injured before them took to the courts to seek justice.

What’s more, because all of these injuries arose from the same accident, it is possible that many, if not most of the claims, could be brought as a class action. A class action is a lawsuit filed by a group of people who have similar claims. Because they allow plaintiffs to work together, they can be a great tool for bringing powerful defendants, like New Jersey Transit, to justice as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Hopefully all the people who were injured will be able to take advantage of our state’s tort law system and get the compensation they deserve. It may seem like it is too soon, or too crude to talk about the accident like this, but New Jersey has strict timelines that come into play in situations like this. People need to be made aware that they have legal options available to them while those options still exist. 

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