Motorist Can Sue For Overgrown Trees That Blocked View

Joan Gochenour was riding in a car driven by a friend when it crossed a railroad track and was struck by a train. Joan was seriously injured. She later sued the railroad company. According to Joan, the company had a legal duty to keep trees, bushes and other vegetation near the crossing trimmed in such a way that motorists would have a clear view of whether there was an oncoming train – which the company failed to do in this case. A court in Indiana allowed the lawsuit, and said a jury should decide whether the railroad had properly trimmed the vegetation within 1,500 feet of the crossing. Overgrown trees are not just a problem at railroad crossings. There have been a number of lawsuits claiming unruly bushes and trees have caused car accidents at intersections by blocking the view of turning traffic, or have made roadways unsafe in other ways, such as by obscuring the visibility of stop signs, speed-limit signs and other warnings and roadway conditions.

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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