On May 12, 2015, at about 9:30 P.M., Amtrak train 188 from Washington to New York derailed just north of downtown Philadelphia, leaving 8 dead and 200 wounded. The train, which carried 238 passengers and 5 crew members, jumped the track at “Franklin Junction,” a sharp bend in the track with a posted speed limit of 50 miles per hour. Analysis of surveillance video showed that the train was traveling at 107 miles per hour when it derailed.
The train engineer, Brandon Bostian, a thirty-two year old New Yorker, had criticized Amtrak’s long work schedule on social media in the past. Mr. Bostian’s attorney released a statement saying that Mr. Bostian had no recollection of the events leading up to the accident.
Commentators have suggested that the accident could have been prevented by Positive Train Control or “PTC,” a satellite-based safety system that could reduce a train’s speed remotely upon sensing danger. Government regulations require Amtrak to install PTC by the end of the year. Reports suggest that the system was installed along the Northeast Corridor, but was not turned on.
Amtrak is a publically funded, for-profit company created by Congress in 1970 to provide railroad services. Although the federal government owns and controls the company, courts have determined that Amtrak is not a government agency or instrumentality. As a non-government entity, Amtrak is susceptible to negligence lawsuits, without the benefit of the immunities that exist for government agencies under the Federal Tort Claims Act. In cases of gross recklessness, Amtrak would be susceptible to punitive damages as well as compensatory damages.
If you or someone you know was injured in the May 12, 2015 Amtrak train wreck, contact the law offices of Koles & Burke, LLP http://www.kbblegal.com. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and to assist you in obtaining compensation for your harms and losses.