On December 19th the nation heard news of yet another Amtrak train derailment outside of Tacoma, Washington. Sadly the accident killed three passengers and injured more than 100.
This follows the July accident along Puget Sound, where an Amtrak service train derailed with 267 people on board as it approached a drawbridge.
Officials haven't confirmed the specific cause of the Washington accident, but we do know that the train’s conductor was in the passenger area during the crash, while the train’s engineer and a conductor being trained were by themselves in the locomotive’s cab. Ultimately the train’s automated safety systems engaged the brakes, as no train personnel did so manually.
It has also been reported that the train did not yet have Positive Train Control installed, a technology which can prevent derailments caused by excessive speed. Train companies have until the end of 2018 to put the systems in place nationwide, per a congressional deadline. While the lack of Positive Train Control certainly didn’t cause the accident, it most likely could have prevented it.
Between questionable train handling and operations, and modern technology not being employed, it seems this is an accident that was avoidable. Said a local mayor, the tragedy "could've been avoided if better choices had been made."
When negligence harms others, it's important that the victims are taken care of. Duncan Firm is proud to be one of the few law firms in the country to have substantial experience litigating train accident cases. We hope such an accident doesn't occur in our region of the country any time soon, but when one does we’ll be here to ensure the victims are well taken care of.