New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

Amtrak Crash Investigation Focuses on Speed, Driver Distraction

Posted on Jan 3, 2018 in Catastrophic Injuries, Train Accidents

A fatal Amtrak collision occurred recently near Tacoma, Washington and the New York Times indicates that the train crash is currently under investigation.  The goal of the investigation will be to determine the direct cause of the collision and to assess what new policies or protocols, if any, need to be put in place going forward to better protect Amtrak riders.

When accidents happen on Amtrak trains or on any other type of public transportation, there are added complexities associated with victims taking legal action to try to recover compensation. The rules differ for pursuing claims against government entities, and victims who need help taking action should contact a New York City catastrophic injury attorney for help as soon as possible following an accident.

Amtrak Crash Under Investigation

According to the New York Times, evidence from the crash indicates that the crew operating the train failed to hit the emergency break before the train derailed. The National Transportation Safety Board official who is overseeing the investigation believes that this failure likely occurred as a result of a failure on the part of the engineer to perceive the danger associated with the collision.

The train was traveling at approximately 80 miles per hour at the time when the accident happened, according to a data recorder on the train. The derailment was likely caused by this excessive speed as the train went around a curve with a speed limit of just 30 miles per hour. However, while excessive speed was described as the immediate reason for the accident occurring, the investigation was focused around why the train was going so fast at the time of the incident.

Because the investigation suggests that the engineer didn’t perceive the danger, the investigators are looking into whether the engineer may have been distracted either by a cell phone, by someone else who was in the cab with him, or by something else that caused him to fail to pay careful attention.

When the train went into a curve going 50 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, the train derailed and the cameras in the engineer’s cab were badly damaged. Two cameras are located in the cab, one of which faces forward and the other of which faces in towards the train driver, and investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board laboratory were working to try to extract images from the cameras showing what happened shortly before the train fell into a group of trees and then fell onto a busy highway.

All of the crew members who were aboard the train were hospitalized, and there were also injuries sustained by some of the 77 passengers aboard the Amtrak train. In total, the train derailment resulted in three people losing their lives.

When train accidents happen, or whenever incidents on public transportation occur, victims should consult with a New York City catastrophic injury attorney for help understanding their rights and taking appropriate legal action.

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