Early Sunday morning, there was a catastrophic Amtrak train crash in Cayce, SC that killed two Amtrak employees and injured over 100 passengers.
Could this crash have been avoided? Is Amtrak liable to the injured passengers and their deceased employees?
This was the fourth Amtrak train crash in two months, since the beginning of December.
Why did the Amtrak Train Crash in Cayce?
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still investigating the crash to determine exactly what happened, but some facts have already come out.
116 out of 139 passengers were injured and taken to a local hospital, and two crew members were killed in the crash.
According to NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt, Amtrak train 91 left the track that it was supposed to be on – the rail switch had been manually set to divert the train onto the rail siding where it collided with a CSX freight train.
Why was a rail switch manually set to put the passenger train on a different track? “Key to that investigation is learning why that switch was lined that way,” Sumwalt said.
How safe do you feel knowing that your train, barreling down the track, can so easily be directed to crash into another train on a different track?
Aren’t there safeguards that could prevent an accident like this?
Who is Liable for the Train Crash?
NTSB Chairman Sumwalt also said that the crash could have been avoided if positive train control (PTC) technology had been used which would have automatically slowed the train’s speed. Why wasn’t PTC in use?
Whatever the reason, was it worth the loss of two lives and over 100 people hospitalized?
Amtrak is trying to get out ahead of the fallout, releasing a statement that notes the railroad is owned and operated by CSX and that CSX was 100% in charge of the signals, switches, and track. For some reason, the signal system was not working and so the CSX dispatch center was “manually directing the train” over the telephone…
There are a lot of unanswered questions, including what exactly happened, why it happened, and who was responsible. The attorneys for the victims of the crash will get some answers from the NTSB, others from the discovery process with Amtrak and/or CSX, and more questions will arise as it is determined whether the companies followed federal regulations.
Beware of Contact from Amtrak, CSX, or Insurance Carriers
South Carolina has an ethics rule that prohibits attorneys from contacting accident victims within 30 days after a crash – on its face, it sounds like a good rule designed to protect crash victims from harassment by shady plaintiff’s lawyers trying to cash in.
The rule, however, seems a bit more sinister when you realize that it does not prohibit contact by CSX’s defense attorneys or insurance representatives. CSX, Amtrak, or other companies involved in a crash like this do not just see the human loss and suffering. They also see a catastrophic financial loss and an urgent need for damage control.
SC’s ethics rules give defense attorneys, insurance companies, and corporate defendants breathing space to contact victims and attempt to: 1) lock them into making statements that may hurt their case later; or 2) persuade victims to sign a release of liability and settle their case before they have talked to a plaintiff’s attorney who can explain their rights to them.
If you or your family member are a victim of the Cayce Amtrak crash, do not speak to insurance company or corporate representatives until after you have met with your plaintiff’s attorney. In an especially vulnerable time like this, you need to have a trained and experienced personal injury lawyer on your side who has your interests in mind, not their corporate client’s profit margins.
Train Crash and Railroad Accident Lawyers in Columbia, SC
Coastal Law handles personal injury cases for our clients throughout South Carolina with offices in Columbia, Charleston, Conway, and Myrtle Beach.
If you’ve been injured in a railroad accident the lawyers at Coastal Law will help you to determine who was responsible for the accident, gather the evidence to prove it, and file suit against the responsible parties. Call us now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.