Posted: May 12, 2016
A train accident that took the lives of two railroad workers has been attributed at least in part to failure to follow standard safety regulations. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) confirmed that safety standards were not followed at the time of the Amtrak crash.
Specifically, the administration cited concerns about breaches in protocol by staff working on the tracks.
Crash kills backhoe operators
The accident, which occurred April 3, involved a passenger train that crashed into a backhoe on the track near Chester, Pennsylvania. Two men working with the backhoe, both veteran railroad workers, were pronounced dead at the scene. Another 35 individuals, all on the train at the time of the crash, were injured as a result of the impact of the collision.
Backhoe operator Joseph Carter, Jr., 61, and his supervisor, Peter Adamovich, 59, were identified as the fatalities in the crash. The FRA noted that it appeared a breakdown in communication between the workers on the track and their supervisors may have contributed to the accident. Sources with knowledge of the accident confirmed that a lapse in communication between two shifts may have led to the crash.
Federal and internal standards violated
Upon further investigation, the FRA determined that both federal standards and internal standards implemented by Amtrak led to the crash. Joseph Boardman, president and CEO of Amtrak issued a statement following the FRA report that did not dispute the administration’s findings. Instead, Boardman said Amtrak would be designing a new “internal compliance program” to ensure consistency and improved safety for all railroad workers.
As a result of their investigation, the FRA made three basic recommendations to Amtrak to prevent similar events in the future. First, Amtrak must require all railroad workers and supervisors to review safety rules that apply specifically to their jobs. Second, Amtrak must review rules involving communication between railroad employees, foremen and dispatchers. Finally, Amtrak was advised to conduct similar reviews for all “safety sensitive” workers.
In his statement, Boardman treated the FRA requirements as a benefit to Amtrak, saying, “The FRA direction helps us impart the seriousness of following our rules to prevent accidents, injuries and death.”
Concerns over train safety
While the FRA has already issued these directives, the investigation involving the FRA and the National Transportation Board is ongoing. While accidents like this are concerning, statistics show that trains are still one of the safest modes of transportation in the U.S. today. A report in Newsweek last year noted that there are more deaths in the New York subway system than in the commuter trains that pass through the area every day. However, when a major accident like this occurs, those concerns about train safety arise once again.
While the new requirements implemented by Amtrak may help prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future, they don’t offer much assistance to those that were injured or lost loved ones in this recent crash. Those victims may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit that demands compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other non-economic losses. In order to qualify for such legal relief, the victims will need to prove the rail company was liable for the accident due to negligence or other reasons.
The attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh help rail accident victims in New Jersey and New York protect their best interests. We offer free case evaluations and can answer all of your legal questions. To speak with a railroad accident lawyer about your case, you can reach us by calling 201-342-5545.
- Philly.com, Feds: Amtrak Failed to Follow Safety Rules in Fatal Crash, http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/in-transit/Feds-confirm-Amtrak-failed-to-follow-safety-rules-in-fatal-train-crash.html
- CNN, Amtrak Restores Service after Fatal Crash; Investigation Continues, http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/03/us/philadelphia-amtrak-derailment/
- Delaware Online, Amtrak Deaths Preventable if Safety Rules Followed, http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2016/04/10/amtrak-deaths-preventable-if-safety-rules-followed/82666186/
- Newsweek, Train Safety Statistics: Are Railroads Dangerous? http://www.newsweek.com/train-crashes-numbers-304486