Amtrak, America’s national passenger railroad, has struggled to shake off a dubious safety record in recent years following a series of derailments resulting in deaths and injuries. An Amtrak derailment in California this month that left 15 injured has raised further questions.
An Amtrak train carrying almost 200 passengers derailed when it struck a county water truck crossing the tracks in Southern California, AP reported.
Three of the seven cars on the Amtrak train crashed off the track after the collision in Moorpark, according to Ventura County Fire Department. Fourteen injured passengers were transported to area hospitals. The truck driver was transported to a trauma center with a head injury.
The accident occurred on a remote grade crossing that had advisory signs and a stop sign but lacked electronic crossing arms. Ventura County fire officials reported a fire under the baggage car after the derailment of three of the train’s seven cars. Officials could not say what materials caught fire.
Fire officials initially said the truck driver may have left his vehicle before the crash. They later issued a clarification to say that the circumstances leading up to the crash were unknown.
Grade crossings are among the most dangerous places on the railroad. A series of crashes on crossings involving passenger trains highlights the acute dangers. According to Operation Lifesaver, 2,193 collisions occurred at grade crossings in 2022, resulting in 276 deaths and 803 injuries, an increase over 2021.
In 2018, an Amtrak train collided with a garbage truck on a crossing in Crozet, Virginia. A truck passenger died and another suffered serious injuries. Three train passengers sustained minor injuries.
Liability for these accidents depends on the circumstances. If a grade crossing is inadequate or poorly maintained, a railroad could be held liable. A trucking company may be held liable for the actions of its driver at a grade crossing. In 2016, a federal judge ordered a Nevada trucking company to pay more than $4.5 million to Amtrak after a truck hit a passenger train on a rural crossing in 2011, killing six people.
Jurors said the truck driver was mainly to blame for the crash. Attorneys for the trucking company argued in a motion for a rehearing that a judge should have instructed the jury to consider evidence suggesting a faulty signal and defective crossing gate could have contributed to the collision on U.S. Highway 95.
The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers represent passengers who suffer injuries on Amtrak trains or urban rail systems. We also help the families of people who lose their lives on crossings due to the fault of another party. Talk to our railroad accident injury lawyers as soon as possible at (757) 333-3333.