Reports of a mass transit accident in Kansas are creating a number of questions for policy makers and those responsible for train safety. The accident happened as an Amtrak train made its way from Los Angeles to Chicago. Unfortunately, train accidents are not as uncommon as travelers would like.
In recent years there has been a rash of accidents involving public transportation on trains. Last year in May the country woke up to learn that a major commuter train wrecked and caused severe damage to at least 200 people, and tragically killed seven. And before that in 2007, a train crashed in Los Angeles killing 25 people. That horrific accident resulted in a great deal of pain and suffering for survivors and victim families.
Fortunately for those involved in this crash, no one was killed, but two people remain critically injured as a result of the crash. According to reports, the train was going its normal speed of 60 m.p.h. when the conductor noticed a bend in one of the rails. He braked the train, but it was too late to prevent the train’s cars from flipping on their sides. Dozens of injured passengers were taken to local hospitals for treatment, and two remained as critically injured.
Laws Limit Recovery, Incentive
In a situation like this, the train company should be held accountable if any negligence caused the accident and could have prevented the injured from suffering. But because the train is operated by a public company created and funded by the federal government, different rules apply to it. In 1997 lawmakers passed a law that limits liability on Amtrak trains when it is involved in accident.
By limiting how much a victim or victims can recover in an accident, lawmakers may have unintentionally removed an important factor in how our society operates. Our common law tradition places responsibility for damages caused on the people and companies responsible for acting negligently and causing harm to individuals. That understanding of liability incentivizes companies and people to act responsibly or face negative financial consequences as a result. But when, as here, a company is limited in how much it would have to pay in an accident, that incentive is not there like it is in other industries.
With every mass transit crash involving this public company, questions arise about whether the government should change its liability laws. Of course asking those questions and getting answers or responses can be difficult in this political climate. No matter what happens in the future, for now victims will still have to appeal to the courts to figure out a way to get compensated for the damages they suffer.
Panama City Area Accident and Injury Attorney
When a person is injured in a mass transit, or other auto accident, the firm to call for help is The Pittman Firm. At our firm we focus our practice of law on helping victims of others’ negligence recover for their pain and suffering. We do not rest until we do everything we can to help those hurt in accidents. If you or someone you care about has been injured in an accident, contact us. We will go over your case with you and help you understand your legal options.
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