Investigators have launched a full-scale investigation into a horrific Amtrak train crash in Pennsylvania in which a passenger train derailed, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 200.

railroadtracksWhile an official report is not likely to be available for weeks or months, initial analysis seems to indicate the train was traveling at more than 100 mph as it rounded a sharp curve where the maximum speed limit is 50 mph. What’s more, the National Highway Transportation Safety Board has revealed the train actually sped up for approximately one minute before the train derailed.

The engineer of the train, a 32-year-old from New York, suffered a concussion in the crash and, according to his lawyer, has no memory of the crash or the events leading up to it. He has given an interview to police and has agreed to be interviewed by the NTSB.

Officials say the speed of the train was 70 mph before the crash, and accelerated to more than 100 mph as it approached the curve. It is unclear at this point, officials said, whether the speed was increased manually by the engineer, whether there was a mechanical failure, or if the increase in speed was somehow tied to an automatic setting.

They also know the engineer did apply the brake just seconds before the derailment occurred, lowering the speed from 106 mph to 102 mph.

The mayor of Philadelphia has been especially harsh with his criticism, saying there is no excuse “unless (the engineer) had a heart attack.”

The NTSB has tempered its response by saying the facts are not all in yet, and it can’t be definitively stated yet whether the engineer was at fault,  whether some other issue was to blame, or whether it may have been a combination of factors. For example, faulty brakes may have been the problem, but investigators won’t know until they can closely examine the remaining parts.

This was reported to be the deadliest U.S. train crash in the past seven years. Six people were pronounced dead at the scene, a seventh later died at the hospital and an eighth was found in the wreckage days after the crash. Initially, more than 50 people were hospitalized. Eleven remain, six in critical condition.

While all are expected to survive, it’s not clear the extent to which they may suffer injuries. It’s likely many will face a long, difficult recovery.

Our Fort Myers injury attorneys know many people rely on public transport systems to get them safely and efficiently to their destination. Whether that’s a train or an airplane or a bus or subway. When that does not happen, victims are entitled to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. Survivors of those lost may also seek damages for wrongful death, funeral expenses and loss of consortium.

These cases can be extremely complex, and require a legal team with extensive experience and access to effective expert witnesses who can help establish the facts to the satisfaction of the court.

Careful, independent investigations are especially necessary when the transportation system involved is publicly-owned, as civil claims involving the government have special requirements and heightened proof burdens.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

NTSB: Amtrak train sped up for a minute before the crash, May 15, 2015, By Doug Stanglin, USA Today

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