Train Derailment Victims Square Off Against Amtrak
Earlier in September Amtrak faced the first set of victims in the DuPont train derailment in court. Two years earlier, an Amtrak train flew off the tracks while taking a dangerous turn at twice the speed limit. While this may not be apparent to those who don’t understand how commuter or delivery trains operate, trains have speed limits, especially when doing turns or in areas where the tracks aren’t as new as they could be. The engineer and conductor are responsible for knowing these speed limits and abiding by them. When they fail, derailments happen and these can kill or injure hundreds of passengers or create environmental catastrophes.
This particular crash killed three people and injured 65 others both on the train and on the interstate below.
National Transportation Safety Board Conducts Investigation
When an Amtrak train derails, the investigation is usually done by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). In this case, the NTSB concluded that the engineer failed to see a sign to slow down and took the turn too quickly resulting in the derailment. The turn was supposed to be taken at 30 mph, but the engineer was doing 70 when the train took the curve. While the engineer appears fingered for blame in this case, the NTSB stopped short of blaming him, saying that he was “set up to fail”. Attorneys for the plaintiffs agree. They described the accident as “not an accident but an accident waiting to happen.”
Understanding Amtrak Lawsuits
Amtrak is a privately owned company that is also funded by the federal government. Claims against Amtrak are unique because it’s corporate structure is unique. Amtrak was created in 1971 to take over for the U.S. commuter rail system. Because of its link to the federal government, Amtrak is “too big to fail” and is thus not subject to market competition. This creates, for many onlookers (and passengers) an accountability problem that leads to tragedies such as the one mentioned above.
When Amtrak was first created, the idea was that eventually Amtrak would become self-sufficient and not require government money. Alas, that never happened, partly because of institutional problems within the organization itself. When Amtrak finds itself in trouble and facing multi-million-dollar judgments for its negligence, it simply goes to Congress and asks for more of your hard-earned tax money. If they were a truly private company, they would have to consider their bottom line in terms of potential injury settlements as part of their business model. Amtrak doesn’t.
This creates a second problem for Amtrak accident victims: Amtrak doesn’t care how many derailments they have because they can always beg for more money and will never face the heat of a serious financial setback. It gives Amtrak extraordinary negotiating power in lawsuits filed by victims.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured by an act of negligence, the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. will be happy to litigate your case on your behalf. Talk to us today for a free consultation.