Railroad accidents happen for multiple reasons. For instance, a train operator might make a fatal mistake because they’re exhausted, unskilled, or preoccupied. Defects are an additional potential cause of a train accident. It’s also possible that the faulty rails, roadbeds, or other structures contributed to the accident, or there was a mechanical or electrical failure. Additionally, there could be a problem with crossing arms, signals, or warning lights—or a motorist failed to comply with them.

The history of Amtrak train accidents and claims has included all these violations and more. As a firm of nationally-experienced train accident lawyers, the professionals at Peterson & Associates, P.C. understand the complicated backstory of these claims. Here’s a closer look. 

History of Amtrak Train Accidents and Claims

Sadly, an absence of safety laws and enforcement has resulted in high-profile incidents and the deaths of innocent people. This is a brief overview of some of the worst disasters so far. 

  • October 1979, Lawrence, Kansas: Excessive speed caused a derailment, leaving two people dead and another 69 injured.
  • November 1983, Woodlawn, Texas: Derailment due to a cracked rail caused four deaths and more than 70 injuries. 
  • January 1987, Chase, Maryland: A multi-train collision resulted in 16 people dead and nearly 180 injured.
  • September 1993, Mobile, Alabama: A derailment off a bridge resulted in the death of 47 passengers and crew members and more than 100 others injured.
  • March 1999, Bourbonnais, Illinois: A train collided with a tractor-trailer at a grade crossing, leaving 11 dead and 122 injured.
  • April 2002, Crescent City, Florida: An overheated rail kinked, and the train derailed, causing four deaths and more than 140 injuries. 
  • May 2015, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Excessive speed on a curve forced a train derailment, killing eight people and wounding another 185.
  • June 2022, Mendon, Missouri: A train struck a dump truck at a railroad crossing, leaving four people dead and another 150 injured.

In the past, Amtrak accidents resulted in settlements worth millions of dollars, and the business has been sued several times. For train accident claimants, the railroad company may owe its passengers a higher duty than other defendants in personal injury situations. 

Rely on a Skilled Kansas City Train Accident Attorney

The compensation pool is now limited by federal law to $295 million, according to the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997, which states “the aggregate allowable awards to all rail passengers, against all defendants, for all claims, including claims for punitive damages, arising from a single accident or incident, shall not exceed $295,000,000.” This means that the total compensation amount is split among all victims—which might not be nearly enough for you and your family, especially in wrongful death cases

So it’s critical to have an experienced train accident attorney who understands how to value your claim, gathers the essential facts that prove negligence, and works expediently within the statute of limitations in each state for filing a lawsuit. For example, if you’re bringing a claim in Kansas City, the Missouri statute of limitations for personal injury is five years, while in Kansas, it’s two years.

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