Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Lawsuits Filed Against Amtrak Following DuPont Derailment

Posted Friday, January 5, 2018 by Chris Thayer

The first of what could be dozens of personal injury lawsuits have been filed against Amtrak after a train fell off an Interstate-5 overpass near DuPont, killing three people and injuring almost 80 others.

A conductor, who suffered a shattered pelvis and cracked ribs, and a passenger, who suffered a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a neck injury and internal injuries, each filed a lawsuit against the train company. Additionally, a man whose car was crushed when the train fell onto the interstate also filed a lawsuit.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the train was traveling 78 miles per hour as it approached the curve where it derailed, despite a 30 mph speed limit sign. Federal safety officials also said that the automatic-braking system was not operational. While officials have not concluded their investigation, it is clear that Amtrak could be held responsible for numerous injuries.

*The Conductor’s Case Against Amtrak*Garrick Freeman is a 48-year-old conductor for Amtrak who was asked to work on the train’s inaugural trip through the Point Defiance Bypass between Seattle and Portland. But Freeman says he told his supervisors he was not comfortable working that route because he had not received training on the bypass segment. Amtrak instead asked him to ride in the lead train car with the engineer so that he could learn the route.

Freeman alleges that the engineers and conductors were not adequately trained on the route. He filed his lawsuit in Pierce County, where the derailment occurred.

Note that under Washington law, a personal injury complaint should not include a specific request for damages. It should instead contain “a prayer for damages as shall be determined.” However, the defendant may “request a statement from the plaintiff setting forth separately the amount of any special damages and general damages sought.”

Accordingly, none of the lawsuits that have been filed include a specific dollar amount.

*The Passenger’s Case Against Amtrak*Pennie Cottrell was a passenger in the seventh rail car, which was dangling over the interstate. In addition to physical injuries, she says she is also suffering from emotional trauma. Both she and Freeman argue that Amtrak should not have used the new route before installing “positive train control” technology, which automatically slows trains down if they are at risk of derailing.

Cottrell filed her lawsuit in King County Superior Court.

The Commuter’s Case Against Amtrak

Blaine Wilmotte was a passenger in a Ford pickup truck when the train derailed in front of them and they crashed head-on into the train. He suffered cuts, soft tissue damage, and multiple broken bones. His wife is also suing for loss of consortium.

Their lawsuit alleges that Amtrak failed to adequately train its employees for the new route and faults the company for not using the positive train control technology.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you were injured in the Amtrak derailment or any public transit accident. Our experienced attorneys will help recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.