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The Tacoma Train Accident of December 2017

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on February 6, 2018

On December 18, 2017, Amtrak passengers faced disaster in Tacoma.

Amtrak Cascades train 501 was on its inaugural run between Seattle and Portland when, at around 7:45 a.m., the train derailed and left several of the cars dangling from an overpass over I-5. The train held 78 passengers and five crew members. Around one hundred passengers and people in vehicles below were injured as a result of the crash. At least three people onboard died.

Possible Causes of the Train Derailment

The exact cause of the crash is still being investigated, and likely will be for several months. However, speed was a factor. In that corridor, trains were recommended to drop their speed to 30 miles per hour. Early reports from the investigation showed the train was traveling around 80 miles per hour—78, to be exact. Sound Transit, the company that owns the tracks, stated that this is a major reason for the crash.

Amtrak has stated that the train was not using technology onboard that helps it slow down when approaching curves in the road. With this system, sensors are placed on the side of the train, but they hadn’t been installed at the time of crash. They were not even scheduled to be installed until sometime in 2018.

Liability in a Train Derailment

Amtrak is a publicly owned company, which means it is a government entity. Congress has approved a $295 million cap per public transportation accident to be given as compensation to all victims. But that may not cover all the victims’ damages. In addition to the wrongful deaths and personal injuries that were sustained, many vehicles – two of them tractor-trailers – were damaged on the highway below after the train cars came crashing over the overpass.

A lawyer may be able to make a good argument that the caps provided by Congress aren’t enough. While filing a personal injury lawsuit against a government entity is certainly possible, it’s not an easy case to win. Getting compensation, in the amount greater than the government originally provides, may be possible. It’s for this reason that anyone wishing to file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties should hire a Washington personal injury lawyer. Big, powerful interests are very difficult to fight in court, but that doesn’t mean that victims are not entitled to compensation.

If you’ve been injured in a train accident, we know for certain that you aren’t to blame. For a free consultation about your legal rights and options, feel free to speak to the Seattle personal injury attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S.

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