A number of questions have come up regarding the Philadelphia Amtrak Derailment; here are some answers.
1. Should passengers who were injured in the Pennsylvania Amtrak derailment speak with Amtrak?
Passengers injured in this derailment would generally be ill-served speaking with Amtrak regarding the train derailment. The NTSB is going to be doing the investigation that counts in this matter, not Amtrak. Any conversations with Amtrak could potentially affect the rights of passengers going forward. Often, it is subtle things that end up being a problem. For example, the victim is asked for a recorded statement and in the moment forgets to mention an injury that they were suffering from. That recorded statement is then used as proof that the victim didn’t suffer the injury when the truth is that they were just nervous, felt rushed, and forgot to mention something. Passengers with injuries would be wise to seek out an attorney as soon as possible. Let the attorney handle the work.
2. Is Amtrak responsible for injuries to its passenger?
Quite likely, yes. While Amtrak cannot be responsible for acts of nature, the odds are that this derailment is related to some sort of negligent maintenance. This will assist investigators in determining the cause of the crash. The data recorded from the train has been recovered. The NTSB will be able to determine, for example, whether speed was a factor in the crash. Further investigation of the scene by the NTSB is also likely to reveal the cause of the accident. Read more on NPR and ABCnews.
3. Is Amtrak covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act?
While many think of Amtrak as a federal entity, it is not in fact covered by the Federal Tort Claims Act. Accordingly, the notice requirements of the FTCA are not applicable and injured parties are not forced to waive their right to a jury trial.
4. Since the accident was in Pennsylvania, does suit have to be brought in Pennsylvania?
Not at all. Jurisdiction over companies is derived from whether the company conducts business in a particular state. Accordingly, Amtrak is subject to the jurisdiction of any state in which it operates. Many of the passengers on this particular train were from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia since the train emanated from Washington, D.C. An attorney for those passengers would be free to bring suit in any of those states against Amtrak for the derailment.