Amtrak Accident Lawyer
Trains are responsible for many deaths and injuries each year. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates more than 300,000 collisions at railroad crossings in the U.S. between 1982 and 2013, killing almost 5,000 people and injuring another 42,000.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates to train accident victims harmed on the nation's railways. We handle train cars accident cases involving property damage, serious injuries, and wrongful death.
Contact a public transportation accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Congress created Amtrak in 1970 to provide a nationwide railway service that carried passengers and cargo throughout the continental United States. Over thirty million individuals use Amtrak services every year, with around 10,000 incidents occurring across the United States.
Amtrak is a national passenger rail service owned by the U.S. government, which serves 45 states on 21,300 miles of track with 3,056 locomotives pulling over 1,000 trains daily across America.
Amtrak offers frequent high-speed intercity train service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and several regional corridors throughout the country, including:
- Albany: Rensselaer to New York City
- Boston: New Haven to New York City
- Buffalo: Depew/Exchange Street to New York City
- Chicago: St Louis to Carbondale or Hometown
- Cleveland: Akron through Canton or Alliance or Elyria or Youngstown to Chicago
- Cincinnati Union Terminal via Dayton or Columbus to Chicago
- Cincinnati Union Terminal/Northeast or Portsmouth to Harrisburg via Columbus or Parkersburg
- Chicago: St Louis through Missouri
- Detroit: Port Huron, Michigan to Chicago
- Los Angeles: Little Rock and Memphis to New Orleans
- New York: Harrisburg to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Newark, and Delaware
- New York: Harrisburg to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania through Bethlehem, Allentown, Doylestown, or West Trenton
- San Diego: Los Angeles via Fullerton to Chicago
- Seattle: Portland/Eugene to Vancouver or Seattle
- Seattle: Tacoma through Everett to Spokane, Washington
- St Louis to New Orleans
- Washington, DC - New York/Boston
Most of these incidents happen while passengers are waiting on platforms or boarding and deboarding trains. Nonetheless, more severe collisions may happen at railroad crossings, train derailments, or passing trains.
Amtrak is a private firm that could be held liable for injuries caused to passengers or others if it acts negligently.
While an Amtrak train is responsible for a significant number of injuries and fatalities across the country each year, very few passengers have ever suffered serious injury or death in an Amtrak accident.
In fact, in 2014, there were no fatalities in train accidents involving Amtrak trains. That same year, however, over 200 people were injured, including both Amtrak employees and passengers. A number of the injuries were severe, some resulting in amputations.
Common Types of Train Accidents
There are several sorts of train accidents:
- Derailments excessive speeding failure
- Unlawful and intentional train collisions
- Injured railroad workers
- Track defects leading to derailment
- MetroLink train crashes
- Malfunctioning signaling lights and equipment
- Crossing accidents where a car, person, or animal crosses the tracks in front of an oncoming train
- Making fast turns passed the posted speed limit
- Equipment failure, broken rails, or insufficient workers for the railroad leading to poor maintenance
- Strikes against pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobiles at crossings where warning devices were working properly (these accidents are extremely rare)
- Train engineer mistakes leading to crashes involving passenger trains
- Errors made by railroad workers leading to serious train accident injuries or death.
- Failing to break when necessary to avoid a train accident
- Trains colliding with other trains
Many railroad companies denied responsibility, especially when accidents occur at railroad crossings. Often, a railroad worker will be named in a train accident lawsuit due to a human error, mistake, or intentional act to cause harm on the tracks or railroad crossing.
When an Amtrak train is involved in a derailment, it generally falls into one of two categories. A "wheel slip" describes the loss of traction between the wheels and the rail, resulting in more cars coming off the tracks.
An "overturning" describes when an entire locomotive or several cars come off the tracks quickly.
There are several causes of derailed trains, including:
- A track defect, such as a sharp turn or switch not lined correctly for the train's direction
- Poorly built tracks and bridge collapses
- Train operators exceeding maximum speed limits or ignoring warning signals at road crossings
- Bad weather conditions, including heavy rains and floods that cause rivers to overflow and wash away sections of the rail line or bridge structure
- Distracted driving leading to training accidents with vehicles on roadways paralleling railroad tracks
- Amtrak often cites "bad track conditions" when more than one car was derailed during an accident
Recent U.S. Amtrak Train Accidents & Derailments
Some recent examples of Amtrak accidents and derailments include:
- May 12, 2015: An Amtrak Northeast Regional Train bound for New York City derailed. Eight passengers were killed, and 185 others were sent to area hospitals.
- August 21, 2015: The Amtrak California Zephyr train traveling from Chicago to San Francisco came off the tracks due to an excessively wide gauge in a 30-mile stretch of track. Eight cars and two engines left the tracks at 2:35 am. There were no casualties among more than 200 passengers and crew on board. However, one female passenger was treated for minor injuries following evacuation from one of the trains that landed atop its side in an adjacent field.
- April 3, 2016: A Northeast Regional Train from Washington D.C bound for New York City derailed near Philadelphia.
- December 18, 2017: At around 6:30 am, a westbound Amtrak train on the Point Defiance Bypass route in Tacoma, Washington, derailed and careened off an overpass at DuPont. The locomotive and one passenger car fell onto Interstate 5 below, which led to injuries for multiple motorists struck by falling debris, including one seriously injured man whose leg was severed by a piece of metal. In addition, two people on board the train were killed, and a total of 100 passengers had to be evaluated for injuries while more than 200 people were safely evacuated.
- January 31, 2018: A train carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia collided with a dump truck. The train accident resulted in one fatality, the driver of the truck, and several injuries, including for members of Congress who were on board the train.
- February 4, 2018: An Amtrak train was diverted onto a side track in South Carolina; it collided with a parked freight train, injuring at least 116 and killing two crew members.
- May 12, 2018: At around 6:30 am, a Southwest Regional Train heading from New Orleans to Chicago derailed in between the towns of New Florence and Linton. More than 100 passengers had to be evaluated for injuries after being safely evacuated from the train.
- July 2, 2018: An Amtrak train heading from Chicago bound for Milwaukee derailed in Walworth, Wisconsin. It is the second Amtrak derailment in three weeks. The train was carrying at least 70 people when it derailed along an open stretch of track parallel to the Rock River.
- May 24, 2019: A New York City-bound Amtrak from Richmond derailed in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia at 7:20 am when it struck a group of railroad switch points. A track crew was reportedly working on the tracks. An estimated 238 passengers had to be evaluated for injuries, and six people were confirmed injured, including two crewmembers. The train included nine cars and two locomotives. There was no derailment of the rails, which authorities said remained intact, although a rail car tipped onto its side at one point during the incident.
- May 1, 2019: A Southwest Chief train from Los Angeles to Chicago derailed Cajon Pass in California after striking a truck. Officials said the truck driver was killed after his vehicle became tangled underneath the train around 11:20 am. At least 34 people were injured, five critically, while 125 people were safely evacuated from the train, including one locomotive and four Amtrak passenger cars.
- July 2, 2019: An Amtrak train heading northbound from Seattle into Portland derailed near Tacoma at 7:33 am. Officials said the train was traveling on a new bypass route intended to reduce travel time between Seattle and Portland after leaving the tracks near Mounts Road, blocking all southbound lanes of Interstate 5. There have been no reported life-threatening injuries, although two trains cars were reportedly knocked off their foundations due to the derailment.
- January 31, 2021: A commuter train was heading from Philadelphia to Trenton when it derailed between Aspen and Croydon in New Jersey. The Northeast Corridor was shut down with no estimate on when service would be restored. More than a dozen minor injuries were reported, including some for rescue workers who responded to the scene. The train was reportedly heading into a curve when it derailed, and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the derailment.
- February 15, 2021: At around 4:30 am, a Bayshore Regional Train carrying commuters from South San Francisco to San Mateo County derailed as it traveled along the aerial tracks above State Route 92. There were no major injuries as all 110 passengers on board evacuated safely following the derailment that blocked SR-92 for more than two hours. Firefighters said they didn't know what caused the derailment but were thankful it did not occur during rush hour.
- July 5, 2021: A Regional Express Rail train from Toronto bound for Newmarket, Ontario derailed near Breslau, south of Kitchener. No injuries were reported following the derailment that resulted in a blockage on Highway 401 and forced officials to close sections of tracks from Kitchener to Cambridge for several hours. An investigation into the cause of the derailment has yet to be determined.
- September 25, 2021: A westbound Empire Builder Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, from Chicago to Seattle. Two locomotives and ten rail cars were involved in the derailment about 150 miles northeast of Helena, Montana, at about 4 pm while carrying 16 crew members and 141 passengers. Early reports indicate that three people died, and more than a dozen were hospitalized after the train left the tracks operated by BNSF Railway, a Berkshire Hathaway Company.
Train Accident Injuries or Deaths
Injuries and fatalities resulting from Amtrak accidents are not taken lightly, especially when it comes to the lives of those onboard the train. When passengers have been injured in a train accident, they can seek legal assistance and hold Amtrak accountable for their suffering and expenses incurred due to their injuries.
An experienced attorney will be able to determine if you qualify to file a claim against Amtrak based on negligence or wrongful death.
Amtrak employees aboard the train at the time of derailment also face an elevated risk of injury during accidents as rail workers lack seat belts as part of their work uniform.
Hiring a Chicago Amtrak Passenger Train Injury Attorney
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, a Chicago train accident attorneys' firm, assists Amtrak commuter and pedestrian victims, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and METRA train derailments with minor to severe injuries.
Our injury attorneys currently represent train accident victims throughout the United States, Illinois, and Chicago, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, and LaSalle Naperville, and Waukegan.
Types of Accidents Encountered by Passengers on Amtrak Trains
Not all train passenger injuries result from car/train accidents, freight train collisions, or derailment but may occur during regular operation.
Regardless of how you have been injured, it is crucial to investigate whether steps could have been taken to provide a safer environment or warn passengers of hazards.
Common Amtrak crashes include the following.
- Slip, trip, or fall injuries might occur when passengers move inside the train or board or leave the train. In addition, inclement weather can cause surfaces to become slick, and objects placed in the aisles on the train can pose a tripping hazard. Train platforms may be slippery if it is cold, raining, or snowing, and warnings must alert travelers to these hazards.
- Sudden stops or accelerating: Should the train come to a sudden halt or lurch forward in sudden movements, passengers can be thrown from their seats or fall if they are in the aisle when the sudden deceleration or acceleration occurs.
- Poorly maintained premises: Premises liability refers to the responsibility of any property owner to ensure that reasonable measures are taken to ensure safety and warn of hazards. For example, passengers could be injured on a train platform while traveling through a train station or on any other property owned or maintained by Amtrak. In these incidents, Amtrak may be held liable for the repayment of medical and other financial expenses.
- Employee negligence: Employees are not perfect. They might make mistakes that lead to injuries. It is the responsibility of Amtrak to provide compensation if an employee harms a traveler through any negligent action.
- Collision or derailment: The most severe and far-reaching train accidents involve collisions with other vehicles or train derailments. Trains are mighty and massive machines capable of doing incredible damage to property and injuring passengers and bystanders.
Amtrak may hold liable to the families of any person killed in the incident and directly to any who have been injured or suffered damage to personal property.
Were you, family members, or a loved one injured in an Amtrak accident? If so, report your injury immediately, seek medical treatment, and collect as much information as possible about the accident scene. Your experienced attorney might investigate the injury case to determine the cause of your injuries as well as a fault.
Since not all injuries are immediately apparent, Amtrak might not know that you have been injured unless you report the incident. Filing a report with the police and Amtrak and seeking medical care establishes that you were indeed injured and have a potential personal injury claim.
The Cost of a Train Accident Lawyer
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC's Amtrak and commuter railroad accident attorneys will work on a contingency basis for you, which means you will not be charged until your case is resolved.
You must contact an attorney as soon as possible after a train accident. Railroads have attorneys and claims personnel on staff to represent the company's interests.
You'll need someone on your side to advocate for you and fight for your rights. The rules that govern Amtrak accidents and commuter rail incidents are complicated. Amtrak is a government agency.
It requires a train accident lawyer with expertise to prosecute a case against corporations like Amtrak and the general public. The best approach to ensure that you are properly represented is to consult with experienced attorneys who have previously counseled clients about similar circumstances.
Amtrak Crashes Are Increasingly Common
The recent derailment of an Amtrak east of Seattle will exacerbate attention on the carrier's safety record, which was already under scrutiny following some deadly railroad accidents.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has responded to a recent Amtrak derailment on Saturday afternoon, September 25, 2021. The train might have been traveling at 110 miles (177 km) per hour at the time of the derailment.
Speed might be a contributing factor, at least in part, for many recent Amtrak crashes, including a derailment that took place earlier this year in New York. In early January 2021, a common carrier train near Chatsworth, New York, derailed while traveling at 82 mph (132 km/h) on a sharp curve where the recommended speed was just 50 mph (80 km/h).
As of the end of 2015, U.S. law required that all states have PTC (positive train control) operational by the end of that year. However, Congress extended the deadline to the end of 2018.
The National Transportation Safety Board calculated in 2015 that PTC could prevent more than 140 train crashes, saved hundreds of lives, and avoided nearly 7000 train accident injuries had it been in place since 1969.
By the second quarter of 2017, only about half of Amtrak's nearly 460 engines had PTC, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). In addition, more than two-thirds of Amtrak's track segments and route miles were equipped with positive train control.
These concerns should force improvements that make railroads safer in the future for both passengers and employees. In addition, those injured in an Amtrak accident now need to act quickly to safeguard their rights.
Amtrak Train Accident FAQs
Our train crash attorneys understand that many families have unanswered questions about handling the train accident case to ensure they receive maximum compensation. The train accident lawyers from our law firm answered some of those questions below.
Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 for additional information or schedule a free consultation.
If you were injured or someone you love was involved in a wrongful death by a train accident, you are likely entitled to receive lost wages, medical bills, and payment for pain & suffering.
How Many Amtrak Crashes Have There Been?
According to the federal Department of Transportation, every year, 5,800 train accidents involving motor vehicles occur. However, in terms of accidents with an Amtrak passenger train, the numbers are significantly lower.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration data, two severe Amtrak train accident cases were opened in 2017 on the Northeast Regional rail line in Washington, DC, and the Amtrak Cascades train in DuPont, Washington.
In 2018, Amtrak's Silver Star in South Carolina collided with a CSX freight train in February, and an Amtrak charter train struck a commercial garbage truck in Virginia the same month.
In 2021, Amtrak's Empire Builder jumped the tracks outside Joplin, Montana, on a clear afternoon, resulting in multiple deaths and dozens of injured victims receiving care at a local hospital.
How Many People Died from Trains in 2019?
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 937 individuals lost their lives in train accidents in 2019. This number was up significantly from the previous year with 818 fatalities.
In 2017, there were also 818 fatalities associated with train accidents and 760 deaths in 2016.
How Often is Someone Hit by a Train?
A train collides with a vehicle, truck, cyclist, or pedestrian every two hours around the clock, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Yet, every year, drivers and train engineers who were more attentive and aware may have virtually prevented all train accidents, collisions, and railway-related fatalities.
How Many Deer are Hit by Trains Each Year?
The Federal Railroad Administration estimates that U.S. trains are involved in over a million deer-related collisions, accidents, and events every year. In addition, statistics show that more train involvement with deer occurs during November than any other month of the year when deer become more active during their mating season.
How Do People Die on Train Tracks?
Hundreds of adults and children have been struck by trains on railroad tracks each year. In addition, there were at least 300 reports in 2017 of individuals intentionally placing themselves in the path of a moving train to commit suicide.
Local and state police reports managed by the Federal Railroad Administration concluded that there were 266 successful suicide events that year on the nation's railroad system.
What Would Happen If a Train Hit a Car?
Trains hitting cars create legal complications to determine who was at fault for causing the collision. However, suppose the victim can prove that the train operator acted negligently, leading to the accident. In that case, the railroad company or Amtrak might be legally responsible for medical bills, hospitalization costs, and time away from work.
A car or truck driver at fault for causing the collision might be liable for all damages and losses. However, all damages would likely be paid by the responsible party's insurance company.
Hire an Amtrak Train Accident Attorney to Handle Your Case Today
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is a Chicago-based law firm specializing in personal injury claims involving serious train accident injuries. The firm represents passengers who were hurt in train incidents.
If you were a passenger, train operator, railroad worker, or employee of a railroad company and were hurt in a train crash, contact us so that we may gather the information necessary to investigate your claim.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to pursue compensation. All confidential or sensitive information shared with our personal injury lawyers remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
If our train accident lawyers cannot recover compensation on your behalf for any reason, our time and resources will be cost-free.
Our train accident attorneys follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).