Train derailments and collisions have happened with worrying frequency in recent years, resulting in increased litigation involving Amtrak. Several of these resulted in catastrophic losses, raising doubts about the company’s commitment to safety. The courts have often agreed with victims and their families in cases alleging that their losses might have been avoided.
But filing a lawsuit after an Amtrak train accident is fraught with complex details. Enlisting the help of knowledgeable personal injury attorneys with expertise in this area of law is an important first step in the process.
Amtrak Lawsuits in Recent Years
Personal injury cases against Amtrak and similar railway firms are among the most difficult forms of litigation. There are often several parties to examine for fault. In addition, most individuals suffer extreme injuries, necessitating quick financial assistance to cover medical expenses. Each incident has particular circumstances that add to the complexity.
For instance, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) blamed inadequate supervision for a 2016 Amtrak disaster in Philadelphia that resulted in the deaths of two personnel. The NTSB determined that Amtrak personnel at the accident scene lacked the necessary safety equipment to divert trains around track maintenance. The board then discovered a total of 20 safety violations.
Similarly, the NTSB convened a hearing following a 2017 accident in Washington, also caused by human error. The train engineer said he failed to see the wayside signal at the location of the crash.
After an Amtrak 2022 derailment in Mendon, Missouri which caused four deaths and injured 150 people, an Iowa couple brought a lawsuit alleging that Amtrak overbooked the train, resulting in overcrowding. The plaintiffs state that not only were all seats occupied but also that Amtrak personnel permitted so much baggage to be carried on board that the designated luggage car couldn’t accommodate it all, and surplus luggage was stored in passenger car lounges. The complaint additionally alleges that passengers due to make a connection in Kansas City were instructed to remain on the train, and numerous people attempted to exit but were denied permission.
Filing a Lawsuit After an Amtrak Train Accident
As per the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act, the total compensation available per incident is $295 million. This amount is split among all accident victims. So it’s critical to your settlement that you contact an attorney promptly after the railway accident, as the nature of your injuries adds to the complication of the case and the structure of your settlement. Common railway accident injuries include, but aren’t limited to:
- Fractured bones
- Head, neck, and spine injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Nerve damage
- Psychological damage
- Respiratory complications from smoke inhalation
- Toxic substance exposure
- Traumatic brain injury
Train accident cases resemble other personal injury and wrongful death claims in many ways, so it’s always beneficial to have legal representation to:
- Analyze the facts
- Collect evidence from the accident site
- Interview witnesses and secure their testimonies
- Determine the cause of the accident and identify negligent parties
- Assign claim value based on the severity of your injuries, current and future medical needs and costs, lost wages, and other factors
- Prepare the case for trial and defend it in court, if necessary
Your legal counsel also needs to put everything into motion quickly. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims varies by state. For example, in Kansas, it’s two years, and in Missouri, five years.