What questions should Amtrak passengers ask after this crash?

It’s easy to understand why the Amtrak route between Philadelphia and New York is so heavily traveled. Motor vehicle traffic is subject to congestion and highway tolls, and drivers can get easily fatigued trying to stay alert amidst the alternating stress and/or boredom that can accompany traffic and congestion. Train passengers, in contrast, don’t have to worry about the duty of care owed to other motorists. They can sit back, relax or do other activities while traveling in comfort.

Yet when tragedy in the form of a mass transit accident happens, commentators and safety experts alike may need to question whether passengers have misplaced their trust in transit operators and companies. Passengers on a Tuesday night Amtrak train bound for New York out of Philadelphia have every right to be asking this question.

The train accident, involving Amtrak Regional Train 188, happened outside of Philadelphia around 9:30 p.m. Although the investigation is ongoing, preliminary data indicates that the train was speeding at about 106 mph when it derailed on the approach to a left curve with a posted speed limit of 80 mph.

Of the 238 passengers and crew onboard, over 200 were treated at local hospitals. Although many have already been released, not everyone walked away from this accident. Authorities have identified seven individuals who suffered fatal injuries. 

If negligence arising from excessive speed around a curve is determined to have been a factor in this train accident, injured passengers will likely have questions about how to recover for their medical costs and other suffering. Surviving loved ones of those who died in the crash may also want to see legal justice. Yet complicated questions of employer liability, or respondeat superior, may require the help of a law firm like ours that focuses on personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

We know what kind of questions to ask of Amtrak, such as whether they properly trained and supervised their train operators, whether their equipment was properly and routinely presented for maintenance checks, whether their work schedules allowed for sufficient operator breaks, and other matters. In addition, there may be other potentially liable parties that should be added to the civil lawsuit. Perhaps regulatory authorities or the municipality should be named as a defendant, in the event the speed limit for the curve was not posted in a location to allow train operators to decelerate in time. Our attorneys can investigate the accident, consult with medical experts, and identify all potential defendants. Let us do the work for you. 

Source: CNN, “Amtrak train thought to be going twice as fast as it should have been,” Greg Botelho and Kevin Conlon, May 13, 2015