Washington, D.C. (Law Firm Newswire) January 23, 2014 — Lawsuits have begun to pile up in the month after a deadly train derailment in New York City.
The Metro-North train was traveling at approximately 82 mph at the time of the derailment. It went off the tracks when it attempted to round a curve with a 30 mph speed limit. Four were killed, and dozens more were injured.
“Train accidents are often particularly horrible accidents,” said David Lietz, a person injury attorney not connected with the case. “Rail lines can and do go years or even decades without a serious breach of safety. But when a train fully derails, the injuries to those aboard are often crippling or fatal, as they were in this case.”
William Rockefeller, the train’s engineer, at one point claimed that he may have “zoned out,” losing focus as he tried to direct the train’s speed. Other sources suggest that he may have fallen asleep at the controls. Drug tests are pending, but Rockefeller was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
His representation presents the situation as a tragic accident, but not a crime. It is unlikely that he will face criminal charges. However, he will not avoid lawsuits from passengers and their families.
“Just because a person is not tried in a criminal court for a certain set of actions, that does not mean he or she will not face significant charges in civil court,” Lietz explained. “In this case, Rockefeller — and Metro-North — may be about to face numerous lawsuits from those injured and the families of those killed in this terrible crash, and rightfully so.”
To all appearances and recent investigative reporting, no mechanical parts of the train malfunctioned or contributed to the disastrous accident. An official cause of the crash has yet to be determined.
To date, 36 notices of claim have been filed against Rockefeller and against the railroad.
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