FAQs About Tacoma Washington Amtrak Train Derailment

FAQs About the Tacoma, Washington Amtrak Train Derailment

Passengers and their families who were injured in the Seattle/Tacoma Amtrak Derailment have questions. Here are some answers.

  1. Amtrak has contacted me, should I talk to them?
Normally after a mass transit accident, we encourage clients to speak to the NTSB, not the carrier. The investigation into the cause of the crash will be conducted by the NTSB and they will take statements from passengers and witnesses. These statements are then available online in the accident docket in the form of transcripts. The NTSB is a disinterested party. Amtrak, on the other hand, is an interested party. Amtrak may use information or recorded conversations against an injured person. Amtrak has attorneys who advise them in these situations. You should too. We recommend that your attorney, not you, communicates with Amtrak.
 
  1. How long does the NTSB investigation take?
NTSB investigations are slow going. It can take a year or more for the NTSB to issue its findings and conclusions. Results of the 2015 Philadelphia Derailment were made public approximately one year after the crash. Notably, NTSB conclusions are not admissible in court. That means that attorneys are well advised to conduct their own investigations and obtain their own evidence. This is very important because over time evidence can be lost or destroyed. It is important that you contact a lawyer soon after a train crash or derailment to begin evidence preservation and the investigation.
 
  1. What Duty Does Amtrak Owe Its Passengers?
Amtrak is a common carrier. A common carrier owes the highest duty of care under the law to its passengers. This duty has been described as a duty to treat its passengers as it would treat “the most cautious person.” In terms of personal injury law, this is the highest duty of care that exists and makes Amtrak responsible for even the slightest negligence.
 
  1. Does the Federal Tort Claim Act cover lawsuits against Amtrak?
No. Although Amtrak is partially Federally funded, it is not covered by the FTCA. That means that someone injured in a train crash has a right to a jury trial (whereas FTCA claimants do not). Similarly, the FTCA notice requirements do not apply.
 
  1. Are there any resources available to Amtrak family members and injury victims?
The NTSB’s Transportation Disaster Assistance Division (TDA) is a great resource. TDA is run by caring and knowledgeable specialists who are there to keep families informed. They also connect families with free counseling services and help get their belongings back. As the investigation progresses they update victims and their families.  To contact the TDA call Toll-Free – (800) 683-9369 or Direct (202) 314-6185 or email assistance@ntsb.gov. Click here for TDA’s railroad brochure outlining their services.
 

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$5.6 million injury in crosswalk, $25 million insurance bad faith.

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