On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York City is reported to have been traveling over 100 miles per hour when it derailed in Philadelphia. The train was found, through its data recorder, to have been navigating a curve at that speed—where the usual limit of 70 mph is lowered to 50—when the accident occurred. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has stated that it will consider all possible causes of the crash in its investigation, including conditions of the track and signals, mechanics of the train, and the speed and other performance factors of the engineer, who survived the accident.
Actionable conduct on the part of train engineers and railroad operators has the potential to cause serious injury and death. The Killino Firm has extensive experience with cases arising out of accidents caused by negligence, other actionable conduct, and defective vehicles or products. If you have been injured or one of your loved ones has been killed in such an accident, contact The Killino Firm for more information about your legal options.
Legal Liability for Injuries and Deaths Sustained in Train Crashes
Amtrak and other train crashes may be caused by the negligence of drivers of other vehicles, the negligence or other actionable conduct of train engineers, or by, among other things, problems associated with track conditions, signal operation, or weather. Cases arising out of personal injuries and deaths sustained in train crashes often involve complex issues of causation and liability and require extensive investigation before litigation is commenced.
Although Amtrak was created by the federal government, it is a privately-owned and operated corporation, pursuant to 49 U.S. Code § 24301, and is, thus, not entitled to the immunity from liability generally enjoyed by governmental entities. Amtrak may, therefore, be held legally responsible for accident injuries and deaths determined to have been caused, for example, by the faulty operation or maintenance of switches and track or the actionable conduct of train engineers. Mere negligence may not be sufficient to establish liability for punitive damages, however. Under the Reform and Accountability Act of 1997, U.S. Code § 28103, Amtrak and its employees may be held liable for punitive damages for passengers’ injuries or deaths only if the defendants are shown by clear and convincing evidence to have caused the accident through conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of others. (This provision does not apply in cases where victims have suffered fatal injuries and where the law of the place where the actionable conduct occurred provides, or has been construed to provide, for damages that are only punitive in nature.) The total amount of damages recoverable in such cases by all rail-passenger victims against all defendants, including punitive damages, may also be capped, under the act, to $200 million.
Obtain Legal Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.
The Killino Firm is dedicated to achieving justice for people who have been injured or killed in accidents caused by negligence or defective products. If you have been injured or one of your family members has died in this manner, The Killino Firm can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.