Who is Liable When an Amtrak Derailment Occurs?
An Amtrak derailment is rare but when it occurs it often cause serious injuries or death to many people. Train accidents are unique and not all the rules to traditional personal injury claims apply. It is important for victims to have an attorney on their side whom is familiar with Amtrak derailment injury claims.
There are many factors that can cause Amtrak train to derail. Common causes of a train derailment include:
Filing a personal injury claim resulting from a Amtrak train derailment can be a long and time consuming process. Hiring an attorney for an Amtrak derailment injury claim early in process can help. Negligence is not always an issue in a train derailment personal injury case, because Amtrak as a common carrier is required to ensure the safety of their customers using the service. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) along with other state and federal agencies will conduct an investigation into the cause of the Amtrak derailment. The United States Federal Railway Administration is always involved as well.
Amtrak Claim Limitations
The corporate structure of Amtrak has government owning the major portion of the stock, with a minimal percentage of corporate stock held privately. Amtrak ownership structure is in place to limit the loss of profit that would occur, were it totally private, with the company receiving a specific government subsidy each year. In addition, Congress has also taken the step to limit the amount of total claim payouts from each individual crash to $200 million. This personal injury damage cap may leave claimant with reduced financial damage recovery.
Product Liability in Amtrak Cases
Amtrak derailment injuries may not always be Amtrak’s fault alone. Many times the components of trains come from outside companies. Manufacturers can be liable if it is proven that the contributory cause of an Amtrak derailment involved a particular defective part of the train.
If you have been injured in an Amtrak derailment it is important to speak to attorney right away to understand your rights and options. Our Amtrak injury attorneys at Sadler Ladenburg are available to answer your questions during a free consultation. You may be wondering:
Question: Do I have an Amtrak derailment injury claim?
Question: Who pays for my medical treatment after an Amtrak derailment?
Question: What do I have to do to file a claim against Amtrak?
Question: How long do I have to file a claim against Amtrak?
Question: How are victims of an Amtrak derailment compensated?
Question: What damages can I recover from an Amtrak derailment?
Question: Who do I sue for an Amtrak derailment injury?
Question: I lost my spouse in an Amtrak derailment, what do I do now?If you need the answers to these or other questions, you should call Sadler Ladenburg to speak with an experienced Amtrak accident attorney who understands the details that can impact a personal injury claim stemming from a Amtrak train derailment. We serve people injured by Amtrak derailments in Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia, and all of Washington State. Call 253-573-1700 today to speak to an attorney.
More News on Dupont Amtrak Derailment near Tacoma: From the TNT: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article190417044.html
BY DEBBIE COCKRELL
DECEMBER 18, 2017 01:57 PM
The investigation into Monday’s Amtrak derailment will take shape as these types do: figuring out whether the crash was an operational, mechanical or human failure.
Investigators will “immediately lock down all the data points and will secure those incident recorders on the train to capture the recording of what was happening on scene at that time,” said Keith Millhouse, a rail safety expert, in an interview Monday with The News Tribune.
Millhouse served 12 years on the board of directors for the Southern California Metrolink system. In 2008, during his tenure, a Union Pacific locomotive slammed into a Metrolink train in Los Angeles’ Chatsworth neighborhood, killing 25 and hurting dozens of others. During that time, he became board chairman.
Recalling the investigation and his experience with that incident, Millhouse said red flags came to mind upon hearing Monday’s news.
First off, he said, “with the train approaching a curve, the question of overspeed comes into play. Was the train going too fast to handle a curve?”
Another question: Was “positive train control” technology in place?
That involves on-board computers in communication with satellites that can take control of the train if its speed isn’t appropriate for where it is on its journey.
“The computer knows the route and how fast you should be going,” Millhouse said. “If satellite says too fast, then the computer takes over the operation of train.”
Positive train control also “can detect work being done on track, or workers out there and the satellite and computer would know and slow the train,” Millhouse said
SoCal Metrolink was the first commuter rail operator to install the technology.
“Unfortunately,” Millhouse said, “Amtrak has been slow in implementing this across the country. The Northeast corridor is the priority.”
CNN reported Monday that Amtrak’s president said positive train control was not activated at the time of Monday’s derailment.
Last summer, after an Amtrak Cascades train derailed in Steilacoom, The News Tribune reported in July that Amtrak wasn’t yet running positive train control technology on the West Coast, citing federal filings.
The National Transportation Safety Board, at a news conference in Washington, D.C., said it was “too early” know whether crash avoidance technology was in place on the train.
The train would have an incident recorder, similar to an aircraft’s “black box,” Millhouse said.
“It’s not as sophisticated as a black box on a plane but will tell speeds, when the throttle was set and when brakes were applied,” he said.
If a mechanical failure caused the crash, Millhouse said, it might involve “a catastrophic failure of the wheel system ... or an incursion on the track.”
A track “incursion” can be an intentional derailment, authorized work on the track or something unauthorized, such as people or something on the track.
From what he could see from footage of the scene, Millhouse said, it appeared “the engine was at the back of the train, with a ‘cab’ car up front.”
An engineer will sit in the cab car, which controls the train’s operation but is not pulling the cars, Millhouse said.
If the train hit something on the track, a cab car “cannot knock debris as much as a regular locomotive,” he noted.
Given that, Millhouse said, “it doesn’t take much to derail those front wheels, and then you’re at the mercy of physics at that point.”
As for how soon the service will be back online for that route, it depends. Millhouse estimated it would be “at least two days at earliest to four days,” as the NTSB secures the crash scene.
He estimated the NTSB will take a year to release its final report.
But, he said, it won’t take that long to “get a good idea what transpired, not withstanding their thorough investigation.”
From the Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/lakewood-mayor-predicted-new-amtrak-rail-line-would-lead-to-fatalities/
The city of Lakewood sued the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2013 seeking to halt the project, arguing it had not undergone sufficient environmental review. The city lost its case in part because the law preempts cities and towns from regulating rail lines.By
Seattle Times political reporter
Well before Monday’s Amtrak derailment, a Pierce County mayor had raised safety concerns and recently predicted that the new higher-speed rail spur would lead to fatal accidents.
Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson said his city had fought against the new rail line, which moved fast passenger trains onto what had been a less-used freight line.
“I didn’t predict a time, but I did say somebody is going to get killed,” Anderson said in an interview Monday. “I hoped that wasn’t right.”
Anderson said the city’s primary concern was the number of at-grade railroad crossings along the new rail route. While the tracks received significant upgrades, city leaders contended they were not sufficient. “The principal risk we identified was actually the number of crossings and the lack of familiarity people had in the area with trains,” he said. “We thought a train-vehicle collision was virtually inevitable.”
The cause of Monday’s accident is not yet clear and is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Lakewood is about eight miles northeast of DuPont, where the southbound Amtrak train derailed off a bridge onto Interstate 5, killing at least six people, The Associated Press reported. While the accident did not occur in his town, Anderson noted that Lakewood officials had long opposed the rerouting of the Amtrak trains to the new bypass route.
The city sued the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2013 seeking to halt the project, arguing that it had not undergone sufficient environmental review. The lawsuit was dismissed on a summary judgment motion in 2014. Anderson said the city lost its case in part because the law preempts cities and towns from regulating rail lines.
Anderson said he also viewed the project, which received money from the 2009 federal stimulus package, as a waste of taxpayer money because the rail line doesn’t carry what he views as a significant number of travelers.
Lakewood pressed for additional money for safety projects along the new line, he said, and received some concessions for crossing improvements and fencing.
Anderson said a brand-new high-speed rail project would not have allowed so many at-grade crossings in a suburban setting — they’d instead have been moved to tunnels or overpasses — but that the Amtrak spur was grandfathered out of some of those requirements because it runs along an existing line.
“There is a reason the word ‘railroaded’ is in our vocabulary. They wrote the rules,” he said.