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 Likely After Amtrak Derailment

Posted Friday, December 22, 2017 by Chris Thayer

At least three people died and dozens were injured when an Amtrak train fell off an Interstate-5 overpass near DuPont on December 18.

It was the first day of public service on the new Point Defiance bypass. The Portland-bound train rounded a curve going 80 miles per hour, almost three times faster than the 30-mile-per-hour limit. It careened off the rails and fell onto the interstate where motorists were navigating the morning rush hour.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency that determines why public transportation accidents happen and issues safety recommendations to prevent future accidents, is still investigating the derailment, but preliminary reports concluded that the driver was not using his cellphone before the crash.

The bypass was designed to cut journey times between Seattle and Portland, allowing passenger trains to travel on a route that avoided the congested and curvy track along Puget Sound. While trains can travel up to 79 mph on the bypass, the rain was traveling 80 in a 30-mph zone when it derailed, according to the NTSB.

*Witnesses Describe Horrifying Scenes*Motorists and witnesses described horrific scenes - vehicles pinned under the train, bodies lying everywhere, a train car dangling from the overpass.

One motorist told a 911 dispatcher that she narrowly avoided the derailment but was hit by “a huge cloud of mud and dirt” that spun her car around. At first she thought it was a mudslide.

A passenger told CBS News that it “seemed like we were reaching sort of a bend in the tracks and all of a sudden we were slammed into the seats in front of us. Then the car careened down an embankment and came to a stop. After that happened we could hear and feel the cars crumpling and breaking apart.”

Lawsuits on the Horizon

No lawsuits have been filed against Amtrak yet, but they are likely coming.

A 26-year-old survivor who suffered four fractures in his back and a brain injury is considering a lawsuit against Amtrak. His parents spent hours trying to find out what happened to their son and says that Amtrak never even called them back. They want compensation for their son but they also want to hold Amtrak accountable and to prevent future derailments.

There are many arguments that victims could make in a personal injury lawsuit. The most obvious example is the alleged negligence and recklessness of the driver in going 80 miles per hour around a curve. The mayor of Lakewood, which is about 11 miles northeast of where the crash occurred, said that the tragedy “could’ve been avoided if better choices had been made” about using the bypass for passenger service.

Time will tell how future lawsuits play out, but it is highly likely that Amtrak will ultimately compensate the victims and their families.

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.