Amtrak 188 crash victims have been awarded $265 million in a settlement. A Federal Court judge released the details of the settlement earlier today.
There are more than 125 cases from the May 12, 2015, Amtrak train accident that killed eight people and injured more than 200.
The train, which was bound for New York City through Philadelphia, broke apart after leaving the rails at more than 100 mph. Some cars were crushed, others overturned and still others split in pieces.
According to personal injury and train accident attorney, William L. Myers, Jr., of Myers Lafferty in Philadelphia, “The $265 million settlement falls within the Federal law caps which put a limit of $295 million on the amount of a settlement for a single train accident.”
Congress raised the limit of train accident damages last year from $200 million to $295 million as a direct result of the Amtrak 188 derailment.
The judge reached the final amount of $265 million settlement amount in the Amtrak 188 train derailment case reasoning that the settlement ends what would potentially be three to five years of expensive litigation.
The biggest question in the train accident case was, how did this train being driven by a skilled, experienced engineer, crash?
The National Transpiration Safety Board (NTSB) revealed in May 2016 that the train engineer was “distracted by radio traffic about rocks striking another train at the worst possible moment, leading him to run the train far too fast through a curve and derail.”
The New York Times covered the story in its article: Why an Amtrak Train Derailed in Philadelphia.
This accident was a ‘Preventable Tragedy,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart. “An engineer who is not fatigued, distracted, or impaired is not infallible on their best day,” he said. “Our investigation is to see whether the engineer was backstopped by safety technology such as PTC, or positive train control. At the time of the accident, PTC was not implemented on the portion of track where the derailment occurred. If a PTC system has been active, this treatment not have derailed. Close to 200 passengers would not have been injured and 8 other passengers would still be alive today.”
Myers said, “The train accident investigators determined that Positive Train Control would have prevented the crash.”
WHYY has since reported on Amtrak’s and SEPTA’s efforts to put the PTC security technology in place along the Northeast corridor.
According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Plaintiffs who want to participate in the settlement must complete paperwork by November 21, 2016. Then, on December 20, 2016, the court will appoint two masters to review the submissions and make recommendations by the end of May 2017 to the court with respect to the amounts that should go to each plaintiff.
Myers said, “This will be good for the victims and their families. It will help them move forward with their lives, at least financially. And give them a small sense of justice—that the legal system worked for them, and that Amtrak had to pay for its mistakes.”