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Amtrak Liability for Train Accident Deaths

By Jeffrey Yano, Esq. | Last updated on

Your legal rights don't expire when you die. Wrongful death lawsuits allow surviving family members to sue train operators for these damages and to hold them accountable. So what's Amtrak's liability for train accident deaths? Well, it's clear but complicated.

Trains Are Common Carriers

Trains, planes, and automobiles are what lawyers call common carriers. A common carrier is anything that transports people or goods for a fee owes passengers a higher duty of care in ensuring their safety.

Common carrier liability is an old but sensible legal concept. A driver of a car is responsible for his accidents; anyone hauling many people should be even more careful. It's common for wrongful death lawsuits against train operators to cite common carrier liability (among other grounds) when suing.

Amtrak's Liability

It's common for train accident related deaths to rack up huge medical bills, lost income to family and dependents, funeral costs, possible property damage, and more. These costs can be prohibitive for family members and don't go away.

Amtrak, despite receiving government funds, is liable for its torts like most government entities. However, there's a catch. Congress has capped Amtrak's liability at $295 million.

That may sound like a lot, but when you're talking about over eighty people's hospital costs, lost income from missing work, continuing health needs and rehab bills, and more -- it adds up pretty fast.

Amtrak Train Accident Lawsuits

Amtrak's issues have made recent news, including a derailment in Washington State in December 2017. Two survivors of that crash have already sued for personal injuries sustained in the crash, the first of what's expected to be many similar lawsuits.

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