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Amtrak crash victims required to sign confidentiality agreements

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It’s been over a year since the tragic derailment of an Amtrak train traveling the busy route from Washington, D.C. to New York City. At a curve on the tracks in Philadelphia, the train accelerated to over 100 miles per hour rather than slowing down to the speed limit for the curve, which was 50 mph. The May 2015 crash killed eight people and injured over 200 more.

Federal investigators placed the fault with the engineer, who mistakenly accelerated rather than slowing the train on the curve. He was reportedly distracted when he learned that a nearby train was struck by a rock. Amtrak has taken responsibility for the accident.

This month, the railroad reached its first settlements with victims. The settlements involved two women, one of whom lives in Brooklyn, who suffered injuries.

It’s not known how much they received. Attorneys for the women say that a confidentiality provision in the agreement prevents either their clients or them from discussing the terms of the settlement or even how their recovery has been going. The Brooklyn woman was pregnant at the time of the derailment.

Dozens of lawsuits filed by other victims are still pending. The federal government has placed a cap on the total amount that Amtrak can pay out for the tragic accident at $295 million. Amtrak has said that it won’t oppose claims for medical costs and other compensatory damages. However, attorneys say that given the severity of the injuries, not to mention the losses sustained by families of those who died, that $295 million may not be enough.

When someone suffers injuries or loses a loved one in a catastrophic event like this where there are numerous victims, it’s essential to seek legal guidance right away. Sadly, you may end up having to compete with other victims and families for compensation that you need for medical care, burial costs and lost wages. A New York attorney experienced with this type of case can work to seek the compensation you deserve.

Source: News 9, “APNewsBreak: Amtrak settlements silencing crash victims,” Michael R. Sisak, AP, Aug. 10, 2016

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.