The Limit of Recoverable Damages after a Train Accident

Following a train wreck in Pennsylvania, there is a limit on the amount of recoverable damages from the train accident for which victims can receive compensation. The limit stems from a law that’s nearly 20 years old.

Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997

The Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 placed a limit on the damages for which a rail and motor carrier passenger service could be held liable in the event of an accident. The law reads that, “the aggregate allowable awards to all rail passengers, against all defendants, for all claims, including claims for punitive damages, arising from a single accident or incident, shall not exceed $200,000,000.” The law also stipulated that Amtrak must carry liability insurance in an amount of no less than $200 million.

Why the limit?

The law was originally put in place to protect Amtrak from excessive liability costs that could figuratively derail — or bankrupt — the railway system.

Unfortunately, the limit was set 18 years ago and has yet to be raised. When accounting for costs of inflation, the $200 million limit is far too low, say many experts. While Congress members have proposed an increase a few times throughout the years, no amendments to the legislation have actually been passed.

Is $200 million enough for victims and their families?

The $200 million cap is designed to pay for all damages for all victims and all of the victims’ families. However, it’s unlikely that the damage amount will be enough, especially when damages are significant, as they are in the recent Amtrak crash. In the most recent crash, 43 people continue to remain hospitalized, eight are in critical condition, and eight sustained fatal injuries. With such extensive injuries, it’s not unlikely that damages payout will reach the $200 million cap.

How to Recover Compensation after a Train Accident

If you’ve been injured in a train accident and require medical care — even if the injuries aren’t severe or permanent — it’s important that you document that care and the extent of your injuries. Then you need to call an attorney. An attorney can lead they way in understanding with whom to file a claim, how much you’re entitled to, and anything else that’s pertinent to your case.

At Cordisco & Saile LLC, our hearts are with the victims of the Amtrak crash and their families. If you’re looking for a way to recover your full benefit amount, call us at 215-642-2335 or contact us online.