Amtrak's History of Accidents

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Friday, Aug 25, 2023

What is the leading cause of train accident injuries?

In the United States, there is only one passenger railroad service, Amtrak, which is a government subsidized entity. It has been reported that the service operates over 300 trains per day among 500 stations in 46 states. Given this exclusivity, the large number of passengers it transports daily, and the fact that Amtrak is subsidized by the government (that is, the taxpayers), one would think that the railroad service would have the highest safety standards and be held accountable by federal watchdogs. So why is it that Federal Railroad Administration’s statistics reveal that between 2000 and 2014, there were at least 224 deaths and 2,228 injuries in Amtrak accidents? Whether these accidents involve train derailments, moving trains slamming into stopped trains, trains hitting construction equipment, trains hitting automobiles at railroad crossings, crashes and other incidents can result in serious injuries and death. That’s the bad news. The good news is that individuals who are injured in a train accident have powerful legal recourse: a personal injury lawsuit to obtain meaningful compensation for their injuries.

A Snapshot of Recent Amtrak Accidents

Most recently, a southbound Amtrak train that had departed New York headed for Georgia ran into a backhoe that was on the tracks, killing the construction crew’s operator and supervisor. Moreover, 30 passengers were injured when the engine and a passenger car derailed. An investigation into the crash has determined that the crew failed to deploy a supplemental shunting device in violation of Amtrak’s safety rules. The device kicks in an electrical circuit that alerts the signaling system that the track is occupied. Shortly before the Philadelphia backhoe accident, a Chicago bound Amtrak train that had left Los Angeles with 142 passengers and crew on board derailed just outside of Dodge City, Kansas. Though there were no life-threatening injuries in the March 2016 incident, it has been reported that the engineer hit the emergency brakes over a bend in the rail. This equipment failure will likely form the basis of any lawsuits. In January 2016, A Chevy Tahoe SUV was standing at a railroad crossing in Jacksonville, Florida. An Amtrak train struck the SUV, killing the driver. Apparently, residents had complained to Amtrak that the ramps and signals did not give them enough time to clear the tracks safely. It remains to be seen what affect these accidents will have on Amtrak’s ridership or what steps the company will take to improve the safety of its trains and railways. In the meantime, if you have been injured in an Amtrak accident, a personal injury attorney can help you obtain monetary damages.

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