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Are there special litigation issues after a mass transit crash?

For many Maryland residents, commuting by train is a part of daily life. For others, a train ride might be the easiest and most convenient way to get to other East Coast cities on vacation or the weekend. For both types of travelers, the recent Amtrak tragedy likely hits close to home.

Authorities at the National Transportation Safety Board believe the train derailed due to excessive speed as it approached a curve outside of Philadelphia. According to their preliminary investigation, the train was traveling at twice the posted speed limit for that section of the railroad, possibly over 100 mph. Inexplicably, authorities believe that the train actually accelerated right before it derailed.

Over 200 passengers on the train were treated for injuries at local facilities. Some may be considering personal injury lawsuits to cover their pain and suffering, medical costs and other damages. In fact, one lawsuit against Amtrak has already been filed. The claim, brought by an onboard employee, alleges traumatic brain injury. Yet those were the lucky ones. Sadly, eight passengers on the train were killed in the crash.

Readers might suspect that Amtrak could be facing hundreds of millions of dollars in potential liability. Yet under federal law, injuries arising from a train crash are capped at $200 million. The law, passed in 1997 by Congress, might have had more to do with the financial struggles of the industry at that time than a reflection on mass transit damage calculations. 

Our law firm focuses on wrongful death and personal injury litigation, including brain injuries arising from accidents. We understand that proving liability is only one-half of the battle; a plaintiff must also support his or her claim for damages. Let us do that work for you.

Source: ABC News, “Amtrak Crash: Train Accelerated Before Derailment, NTSB Says,” Meghan Keneally, May 14, 2015

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