On December 18th, 2017, during its inaugural run, the state-owned Amtrak Cascades 501 train derailed. It soared off a curve in the track at 75 mph in a zone designated to be traveled at 30 mph.
The curve was identified as early as 2006 as a posing a problem for high speed rail travel, and designated as having an unsuitable curvature. But Washington state did not prioritize spending on improving this portion of the track. The result was disastrous, with three dead, and 62 passengers and crew members injured, many severely.
The train was ferrying a total of 77 passengers, five crew members, and one railroad worker. The tracks were installed to reduce the commute time between Seattle and Portland by ten minutes.
According to CNN, while many questions loom, it is clear that some basic safety issues were ignored.
Railroad Accident Lawsuits Filed
Some rail passengers have filed railroad accident lawsuits against Amtrak. Conductor Garrick Freeman filed an eight-page complaint citing rib and hip injuries, severe pain, and emotional shock in the first Amtrak train accident lawsuit. Freeman was aboard the train to learn about the new bypass track from Tacoma to Dupont. The case seeks a yet-undisclosed payment to include lost earnings, medical bills, rehabilitation costs, home care and suffering. Unlike passengers, the conductor can file a FELA lawsuit (Federal Employee Liability Act).
Passenger Pennie Cottrell, who suffered broken ribs, a fractured clavicle and internal injuries in a railcar dangling off the train onto a bridge has also filed an Amtrak train derailment accident lawsuit, as have nine others to date, including passengers on the train and those injured on the freeway below the derailment. Other train employees, passengers, and bystanders are also planning to file.
The cause of the railroad accident remains under investigation. Amtrak is accused of failing to safely maintain, repair, and operate the track, and failing to activate positive train control technology. Had that system been in place, it would’ve slowed the train automatically, very likely avoiding a crash.
In short, a number of systems failed, contributing to the cause of the crash.
Investigators note that the railroad posted a 30 mph sign two miles before the derailment point. It was difficult to impossible to slow the train enough before approaching this dangerous part of the tracks.
Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, explained that positive train control technology was still being testing when the train derailed. They expected the system to be operational by the end of June 2018.
Railroad Accident Legal Funding
According to Federal law, Amtrak’s legal liability is capped at a combined $295 million for all of the cases arising from this accident, or for any single passenger railroad accident lawsuit.
And, as with many accident cases like the Cascades 501 derailment, strong claims with large insurance policies can take a long time to achieve a payout. Despite severe injuries and the need for on-going care or rehabilitation, the legal system usually moves quite slowly in regard to these types of lawsuits and claims.
Uplift Legal Funding
Uplift Legal Funding can help. We provide railroad accident lawsuit loans to plaintiffs involved in such crashes. Plaintiffs pay nothing unless their railroad accident claim is successful.