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In Amtrak Accident En Route to Miami, Amtrak Will Likely Pay Victims, Regardless Of Fault

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The recent Amtrak accident – en route to Miami – which resulted in more than 100 injured passengers and two dead crew members, left many shaken and has led to a general discussion of both the safety practices (or lack thereof) at Amtrak, and when Amtrak bears the cost of damages to its employees, passengers, trains, and other victims.

Federal investigators are still looking into what exactly lead to the accident, with initial suspicions focused on the track switch being negligently left locked in the wrong position and what was happening with trackside signaling at the time. Amtrak works with another company’s (CSX) railway crews; however, Amtrak will likely end up compensating victims for any legal claims, even if CSX is ultimately to blame for the accident.

Amtrak Injury Settlements to Hide Contracts?

How does this make sense? According to coverage by CNBC, Amtrak is often eager to settle claims like these—even if the company is not directly at fault—due to “secretive agreements” negotiated between Amtrak and private railroads (in addition to the fact that Amtrak receives more than $1 billion in federal subsidies each year).

Railroad Companies Never Held Liable?

In addition, Amtrak officials have indicated that, regardless of any secretive decisions, Amtrak generally bears the full cost of damages in accidents like these, even if the crash occurred due to negligence or misconduct on the part of the rail company. Each of its negotiated track usage agreements (with 30 different railroads) are “no-fault” agreements; meaning that Amtrak takes full responsibility for its property, passengers and any subsequent injuries for anyone hit or hurt.

Is this poor public policy? Does this effectively remove any incentive for the freight railway companies to keep their tracks safe? Some courts have already argued that allowing for railroad companies to escape liability for gross negligence like this is simply bad public policy. Many also claim that this is taking a toll on public safety—especially those who have sued CSX on behalf of other injured passengers in association with other incidents. Shouldn’t the railroad companies be held accountable for gross negligence and willful misconduct, just like everyone else?

CSX’s Questionable Safety Record

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, CSX’s safety record, specifically, has deteriorated in recent years. Just since 2013, the company’s rate of major accidents (per million miles) jumped from 2 to 3.08, which is significantly worse than the industry average.

Florida Train Accident Attorneys

If you have been injured in an Amtrak or any other train accident, you should speak with an experienced train accident attorney right away to find out what your rights are and how you can ensure that you receive the recovery you need to get back on your feet. Contact our experienced Florida personal injury/train accident attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out how we can help.

For more information and in depth analysis, please contact Attorney Ken Ronan at   kronan@bocalaw.com and Case Manager Richard Bagdasarian at rbagdasarian@bocalaw.com.

Resource:

cnbc.com/2018/02/11/even-when-not-at-fault-amtrak-can-bear-cost-of-accidents.html

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