It is a fundamental fact of the U.S. legal system that if an allegation is made some proof of the wrongdoing has to be produced. In a criminal case, the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the hurdle is generally not quite as high.
In Texas, the burden of proof in a personal injury suit or other civil claim is for the plaintiff to provide a preponderance of evidence showing that the defendant is liable and that compensation is due. While that is often an easier challenge to meet, there can be difficulties, especially when the accident is an unusual one and there are multiple victims.
Such would seem to be the case with an incident last week in North Carolina. San Antonio readers may have read about it -- the stunning collision of an Amtrak train into an oversized load being hauled by a semitrailer truck. Officials confirm 55 people were injured, some seriously.
Fortunately, there weren't any life-threatening injuries reported, but that is little consolation for those who were hurt and the standers-by who witnessed what happened.
Authorities have been willing to go on record with this much. They say that the truck and its huge load were trying to make a too-tight turn and got stuck on the crossing. As required by the law, the truck was being escorted by a State Highway Patrol trooper.
Federal rules also require that in situations such as this, drivers and escorts are supposed to get proper permits and to keep rail officials informed of what's going on. Did that happen here? Officials say there was a permit, but it doesn't appear that rail dispatchers were kept informed.
With all the forms of modern communications available, why didn't the train know the truck was on the track? Who was responsible for this job? These are questions that deserve to be answered and used in holding responsible parties accountable. Victims of accidents deserve to have their rights upheld and that can be done best by contacting experienced legal counsel.