The National Railroad Passenger Corporation — otherwise known as Amtrak — has serviced the east coast since 1971. Over 30 million passengers travel safely on Amtrak each year. At first expanding from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Amtrak became the busiest passenger rail line in the country and currently services forty-six states and the District of Columbia.
But it hasn’t always been smooth traveling.
There have been over thirty-one derailments over the last ten years. Ironically, this has been somewhat of an improvement since Amtrak first got started. Crash causes are nearly always attributed to poor maintenance and to Amtrak conductors missing signals on their routes. While passenger deaths remain rare, the number of casualties have risen in accord with greater usage of the transportation. In fact, few passengers were killed in a single U.S. train wreck up until 1853. Here are some statistics related to deaths and Amtrak derailments:
* Since 2002, accidents due to track problems have fallen by two-thirds.
* Amtrak’s rail fleet is nearly three decades old. This level of disrepair speaks to the rise in accidents and injuries in train derailments.
* Experts speculate that with an increase in ridership, and trains running at fuller capacity, it should be expected that the average train accident results in more passenger injuries.
* In September 1993, the deadliest accident in Amtrak’s history took place. While traveling from Los Angeles to Miami, a train called the Sunset Limited derailed and launched into a bayou just north of Mobile, Alabama. Nearly fifty people were killed.
* There are more than 2,000 Amtrak trains that run at high speeds on Amtrak-controlled trackline each day. This includes regional trains which travel at speeds of 110 to 125 miles per hour. The fastest train runs at 150 miles per hour.
Seek the Help of a Qualified Attorney
Train accidents, even minor ones, often result in serious injury. If you’ve been injured in an Amtrak derailment or crash, consider reaching out to a qualified personal injury lawyer who may be able to obtain compensation for your medical treatment as well as lost wages. Depending on the circumstances and your condition, you may also qualify for reimbursement of your physical as well as emotional pain and suffering.
Railroad accident damages in civil suits are capped at $200 million as per federal law. It does not matter how many victims are involved or the severity of their injuries. The government covers the losses because Amtrak is federally funded, and the law was designed to save taxpayers from having to pay for excessive damages. Congress has tried — and failed — to raise the cap to $500 million. As a plaintiff in a suit against Amtrak, a company with a team of lawyers and deep pockets, you will need to hire an attorney with experience who has had success handling similar cases.