Eight people were killed and more than 200 injured after Amtrak Train 188 derailed near Philadelphia on Tuesday evening. The train carrying 238 passengers and five crew members rolled on its side in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Amtrak encourages individuals with questions about loved ones on the derailed Train 188 to call 1-800-523-9101. The National Transportation Safety Board announced it sent a go-team to investigate the derailment, but has not released further details. The Federal Railroad Administration also announced it is sending investigators to the derailment site.
The cause of the train crash is presently unknown. A “black box” has reportedly been recovered from the train. Speed is allegedly the focus of the investigation. The area where the train crash occurred is near where one of America’s deadliest train crashes occurred – the 1943 derailment of the 16-car Congressional Limited carrying military service members, which killed 79 people. The Philly train crash is believed to be the deadliest on the Northeast Corridor since 1987, when a freight train hit a passenger train, killing 16 people near Baltimore.
The Amtrak Train 188 left Union Station in Washington, D.C. at approximately 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12, and was bound for New York City. The train derailed and tipped over at about 9:30 p.m. shortly after leaving the 30th Street Station.
“A tragic accident occurred tonight. While there is still much we don’t know, we at the U.S. Department of Transportation are deeply saddened by reports of multiple fatalities and injuries,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims' families. We urge the public to allow time for first responders to do their critical work. DOT officials are already onsite, and we will work with NTSB to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of this devastating event.”
Media reports indicate that some passengers were trapped in train cars and emergency crews cut into the cars in an attempt to free them. When firefighters arrived at the scene of the train crash, they reported finding two people under the train. In addition to the six people who died, eight other Amtrak passengers are reported to be in critical condition.
Litigation involving train accidents is complex and raises a myriad of legal issues. If the train was operated by a government entity or a quasi-governmental entity (or publicly funded railroad service like Amtrak), injured passengers may need to file a legal notice quickly in order to preserve their claims. There is a wide body of case law and regulations that govern train operators, whom are often held to a higher standard of care than other entities due to their legal status as “common carriers.” Common carriers are normally responsible for losses during transport.
Since the train had already passed through Philadelphia, most of the passengers were likely from New York, New Jersey, or Washington, D.C. With offices in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City, The Cochran Firm is uniquely positioned to represent passengers and family members of those injured in the Philadelphia Amtrak train crash. The attorneys of The Cochran Firm, D.C. have extensive experience representing train derailment and crash victims, including many of the victims and family members of the 2009 Fort Totten Metro train crash victims. The Cochran Firm, D.C. was co-liason counsel for all plaintiffs in the consolidated litigation arising from the Fort Totten crash. We are actively monitoring the Philadelphia Amtrak train derailment and researching possible legal claims.