Lawsuits Against Amtrak Flood in After Philadelphia Crash Kills Eight, Injured 200
Just weeks after the terrible headlines about how an Amtrak train crashed in Philadelphia, lawsuits are being filed against the train operator.
The serious Amtrak crash on May 12, left eight people dead and sent 200 passengers and crew members to local hospitals.
Conductor Emilio Fonseca sued Amtrak for negligence shortly after the crash. He claims that he felt a surge in the train just before its derailment. Fonseca broke his neck, his back, and both shoulders in the crash. Fonseca was in the bathroom at the time of the crash, which most likely saved his life, but some were not so lucky. However, he suffered horrendous injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life.
The death toll climbed to eight in the days after the crash because some people on the train were critically injured in local hospitals. Among the list of the dead was Justin Zemser, a 20-year-old midshipman from the Naval Academy. Zemser was training to become a Navy Seal, previously a sophomore at the Academy. The U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Adm. Walter “Ted” Carter Jr. explained that “Justin was a talented, highly respected young man with a tremendously bright future”.
Although information is still being released in the wake of this crash and the cause has not been determined, Amtrak is already being hit with numerous lawsuits. Philly.com reported on how four passengers sued Amtrak in federal court in Philadelphia last month for injuries suffered in the crash of Train 188, “alleging the rail line failed to install an automatic-braking system on a dangerous curve where the train derailed.”
They include Felicidad Redondo Iban, a visitor from Spain who was pinned under a rail car and has undergone multiple surgeries to save a nearly severed right arm from amputation.
The speed the train was traveling at when it went into a curve on the morning of May 12, plays a pivotal role in the lawsuits. Our railroad accident injury lawyers noted the train went into the curve at 106 mph, more than twice the speed limit for that stretch of track.
Last month, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, a Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee, introduced a bill that would raise the cap on payouts in Amtrak accidents from $200 million to $500 million. The cap was enacted by Congress in 1997 to help stabilize the company as it underwent restructuring.
With eight people dead and hundreds injured in this crash it’s highly likely that claims against Amtrak will far exceed the $200 million cap.
Brandon Bostian, the engineer of the train, has said he does not recall the crash. In the past he wrote an article in favor of strict safety regulations and safer technology on railroads. Bostian wrote in The New York Post, “Everyone wants an extension to hours of service to avoid inconvenience, but what will you say when the crew that’s been on duty for longer than 12 hours accidentally falls asleep and passes a stop signal and rear-ends a loaded hazmat train, killing dozens or hundreds of people?”
In light of the Philadelphia crash, Amtrak has announced that it will have live video cameras inside the locomotive cabs in order to record the actions of engineers and conductors. This technology may help us find out what went wrong in future accidents, although it will do little to prevent them. Given Amtrak’s dubious safety record I fear more lives will be lost before the systems that are needed to tighten up safety on America’s railroads are put in place.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a train or railroad accident, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers because you could be entitled to compensation. Call 757.455.0077 for a free and confidential consultation.