On Tuesday, May 12, 2015 the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train #188, travelling from Washington DC to New York City, derailed in Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia just over two hours into the journey. The more than 200 passengers and crew that were aboard included several international riders, including some from Albania, Spain, and Belgium, as well as a large portion of frequent commuters. As the train travelled at over twice the established speed limit around a sharp turn in the tracks, the engineer slammed on emergency brakes in a futile attempt to slow the train and prevent the impending disaster.
Survivors and first responders reported a ghastly scene of twisted, burning metal. Friends and family members waiting for word from their loved ones involved waited anxiously to hear something from officials. Searching the accident site with the help of flashlights and the occasional spotlight from circling helicopters, passengers and their possessions were found strewn about an area that covered several thousand square feet. Many victims were not found for until dozens of hours into the search and rescue operation. Some sections of the train were reportedly so damaged that rescue crews had to rely on hydraulic machinery to remove sections of the train’s side to access trapped passengers.
Local hospitals were inundated with dozens of passengers needing various levels of medical treatment. Common injuries that emergency room workers reported seeing beyond the minor contusions and abrasions that nearly all passengers suffered to some extent were broken bones, collapsed lungs, head injuries, and rib fractures. The death toll continued to rise during the initial few days following the accident.
In addition to these initial injuries being reported, long term issues are certain to develop among both survivors and first responders. Experiencing a traumatic event first hand, either as a survivor, witness, or first responder, will leave a lasting impression on anyone. Often this type of experience can lead to the development of PTSD, depression, anxiety, or one of many other emotionally and mentally distressing conditions. Friends and family members are also faced with their own unique set of difficulties in their mental and emotional recovery.
Among the first questions that many people are asking is who it to blame in this matter? While technology is available that can allow a train to be remotely controlled if certain safety issues arise, such as a dangerous level of speed, this section of the track did not have this technology, known as positive train control, implemented at the time of the derailment. Costly upgrades in conjunction with lack of funding are the main reasons that safety features such as this have not been fully adopted across all rail lines.
Another obvious question arises with the level of distraction the driver was facing in the time period leading up to the accident. The train was travelling at over twice the speed limit of 50 m.p.h. for the section of track featuring a sharp turn. The emergency brake was not applied until a mere few seconds before the deadly derailment. Was this due to error on the part of the conductor in the form of casual distractions or having too many hours worked without a break? Perhaps some sort of technical malfunction attributed to the tragedy. As the investigators continue to dig through the evidence and examine the possibilities, more and more of these questions will be resolved, each with different impacts for both those involved and their families.
For those involved in this tragic and deadly accident, getting answers to your questions is an essential right as well as an important part of the healing process. Families involved in such events often need assistance in seeing them through the process of ensuring their rights are protected and making sure they are properly compensated for their injuries and loss. Getting access to information can also be a challenge during times like this, and having a representative to act on your behalf can take much of the stress and leg work out of the picture for those needing to grieve and recover. Those who have suffered the loss of a loved one or have been personally harmed because of the derailment also have the right to be compensated for their injuries and loss. While some assistance to the victims or their families is anticipated, making sure that you are properly compensated is not always a straight-forward process and having someone to ensure your interests are properly represented in the matter is very important.
Respecting the rights of the passengers, first responders, and family members should be first and foremost on the list of goals for all state and federal agencies involved in this accident investigation. Allowing the Doan Law Firm to guide you through this process will enable you to focus on what is most important at this time – yourself and your family.
Doan Law Firm has lawyers available around the clock, year round to answer your inquiries by phone, at 1-800-910-3476, or direct chat feature on the Contact Us page of our website, www.thedoanlawfirm.com. Dedicated to helping to get you and your family on the track to recovery without adding insult to injury by making you wade through the legal hurdles that the ensuing government investigations are sure to erect, we are able to provide a guiding hand through this complex legal system during these difficult times you face.
Protecting yourself and your loved ones throughout the upcoming months and years of healing, grieving, and navigating the almost guaranteed stretch of legal disputes that will arise from this disaster is the most important task you face at the present moment in time. Letting Doan Law Firm handle the legal issues of the ongoing investigative process will give you more time for the recovery and long-term healing of your and your family members. Do not let your rights be set aside or caught up in the maze of legal proceedings. Getting proper assistance through the process is essential to making sure your rights and interests are protected as a victim of the deadly tragedy.