Injuries aboard trains such as Amtrak and on railroads have become all too prevalent in modern society. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there are approximately 12,000 to 13,000 railroad accidents each year. These railroad accidents result in approximately 800 fatalities each year. Train accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. It may be the result of operator error. Other times, safety mechanisms such as guard rails and warning signs may not be functioning. Given the massive size and weight of these trains, the forces that result from these accidents are staggering and can result in severe injuries to passengers.
Despite repeat accidents aboard Amtrak commuter trains, Amtrak retains a per accident cap on damages of $295 Million. It is often difficult to determine the extent of injuries and damages at issue in an accident. However, when a train derails, the casualties are numerous and severe. Congress passed the 1997 Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act that capped Amtrak’s damages in an accident to $200 Million, later raising it to $295 Million. That means that no matter how many people are injured or killed in a train crash, there will be no more than $295 Million to pay for the resulting harm.
Work in the railroad industry is high-risk work. Railroad employees are often the victims of serious on-the-job injuries. As Federal employees, railroad workers do not receive workers compensation. Instead, they are required to bring their claims in Federal Court under federal laws such as the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA), the Federal Safety Appliance Act (FSAA) and the Boiler Inspection Act (BIA).
A victim of a train crash can recover all damages as long as there is no issue with the damages cap. That means that the family of a victim killed in a crash can recover for the wrongful death of that victim. Survivors of a crash can recover for the physical pain and mental suffering along with the economic impact from the injuries that were incurred.
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