Earlier this month, three people were struck by Amtrak trains in the East Bay in one morning. The first person was struck in Richmond near the intersection of Broadway and Carlson Boulevard, at around 4 a.m. The first collision occurred when an unidentified person crossed the track early in the morning. There were no passengers on the train at that time, and the person was killed. The second person was struck in Emeryville near Horton Street around 6:40 a.m. The second collision occurred when a man was walking next to train tracks and was knocked to the ground. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The third person that morning was hit around 11:30 a.m. near Iron Triangle Court in Richmond.
Although these collisions may or may not be the fault of Amtrak, it is important to know that if you are in a collision in an Amtrak train, or if you are a passenger on an Amtrak train and you are harmed, you may be entitled to damages from the company. Most people think of being involved in a derailment or a collision, but many accidents occur during normal operations, such as slip and fall accidents or injuries that occur because a train stops or accelerates too quickly. If an accident occurs in a train station, on a train platform, or some other area owned by Amtrak because of poor maintenance, Amtrak can be liable.
Many people think that Amtrak is a governmental agency and would therefore be hard to sue. However, although Amtrak was created as the result of legislation in 1970, it is a private company. Therefore, it can be held liable when a passenger or a bystander is harmed due to the negligence of an employee or the company. Congress has placed a limit on the amount of damages that Amtrak will ever be required to pay from a single accident at $295 million.
In addition, rail companies such as Amtrak are legally considered as common carriers, which means they owe a duty of care to all passengers and bystanders. They are required to take reasonable care in the operation of their trains, in issuing warnings to pedestrians, and in maintaining crossings. Railroads have an even higher duty of care to their passengers than others in order to take steps to keep those passengers safe.
If you suffer an injury on an Amtrak train or on Amtrak’s property, the first thing to do is to seek emergency medical treatment if you need it. You must also report the injury, even if it seems minor at the time. If there are eyewitnesses to the injury, obtain their contact information and ask them to speak to the company as well. You should take pictures of your injury, as well as the area where the accident occurred.
Amtrak is a huge corporation with teams of attorneys whose job is to limit the company’s exposure when someone makes a claim. Their ultimate goal is to pay out as little as possible in damages, and to delay that payout for as long as possible. The company may blame everyone but themselves, including the accident victim.
It’s important for you, if you have been injured by an Amtrak train or on Amtrak company property, to speak with a personal injury attorney. If you are in the Oakland-San Francisco area, call San Francisco personal injury attorney Micha Star Liberty at 510-645-1000. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that accident victims should stand up for themselves and their legal rights. She works with accident victims throughout the Bay area, including Oakland, Fairfield, Tracy, Sacramento, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.