On a pleasant fall day in late September, an Amtrak passenger train heading from Chicago to Seattle would fly off its tracks in a small town in northern Montana. In an instant, the accident would leave three people dead and injure more than 50. Among those killed was a couple from St. Simons that were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a cross country trek.
For our train accident attorneys, tragedies like this Amtrak derailment in Joplin always hit close to home because we know firsthand what victims and their families go through in these types of cases. As investigators continue to piece together what happened, we’ll look at how train derailments can occur and what Amtrak is doing to prevent another accident like this from happening again.
What Amtrak is Saying About the Empire Builder Derailment
The Amtrak Empire Builder derailment led to most of the train’s cars derailing with at least one car violently pitching over during the crash, according to various news outlets. Currently, a team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the exact causes of the Joplin train derailment.
Amtrak has released a series of statements describing their response plan, casualty figures, various service adjustments/cancellations, and the status of investigations. Amtrak’s statement also says they have sent “incident response team members” and other emergency personnel to the scene to help get displaced passengers and crew members home.
Why Do Train Derailments Happen?
Train derailments are by far the leading type of accident going back through the past 20 years of accident data obtained from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis. However, the cause of train derailments varies considerably between the following categories:
- Train equipment failures;
- Collisions between vehicles and trains;
- Human error;
- Signal malfunction;
- Errors with the track;
- And other miscellaneous causes including environmental factors, oversized loads, and livestock on the track.
Each of the above have their own sub-categories for how an accident happens. Everything from a mistake in the track’s engineering design to an engineer failing to secure a car’s hand brake can, and do, cause derailed trains. In the case of the Amtrak train in Joplin, an Amtrak statement reports that eight of the 10 cars on the train derailed.
The site where the train derailed is actually a flat stretch of remote track about a mile outside of the town. A historical weather records search indicates that it was about 77 degrees and sunny with no recorded rainfall at the time of the accident.
How Our Team Approaches Train Accident Cases
Farah and Farah attorney Matt Grossman explains that accidents involving trains can be difficult because victims are going up against giant national and even multinational corporations. Deploying incident response members can mean that the train company is trying to gather evidence from victims and witnesses to try and lessen their own liability.
In train derailments, the causes can be complex for exactly what led to the accident occurring but Farah and Farah train accident attorneys like Matt have successfully litigated these types of cases many times before. To learn more about the process, Grossman outlines his strategy for securing the best possible outcomes with train accident cases in the video below.
Train Accident Derailing Your Life? Talk to an Accident Advocate
With America’s continued dependence on rail to transport goods and passengers around the country, accidents are unfortunately still quite common. If you’ve had any kind of incident involving a train that’s left you or a loved one injured, we have attorneys with specific experience in train accident cases.
Please contact Farah & Farah for a free consultation regarding the accident and let our team walk through all your options to move forward.