Jim McEldrew has scheduled his annual holiday party for Philadelphia’s railroad workers. This year, it will be Friday, December 8, 2017 starting at 6:30 PM at Chez Colette (located inside the Sofitel Hotel). Chez Colette is located at 120 S. 17th St. in Center City, Philadelphia.
Dozens of SEPTA passengers and the conductor were injured last night when a Norristown High Speed Line train crashed into a parked train car at 69th Street Station in Upper Darby after midnight. Four were reportedly critically injured but SEPTA said none of the injuries appeared life threatening. The injured were taken to eight area hospitals following mobilization for a mass casualty incident.
McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is currently representing several injured victims of the New Jersey Transit train crash in Hoboken, New Jersey. For individuals who were injured on train 1614 or the Hoboken Station platform and have not secured legal representation, we urge you to do so soon. There is an upcoming deadline under New Jersey law concerning the filing of a Notice of Tort Claim that you must not miss to pursue an injury claim.
Today is the one year anniversary of the derailment of Amtrak Train 188 at the Frankford Curve in Philadelphia. Sarah Feinberg, the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, called it the “most deadly rail accident we’ve had in a very long time.” We thought we would take a look at some of the changes that have been made since the accident and some of the news that is expected in the next week or so.
Transportation Funding Bill Set to Increase Damage Cap for Train Crashes and NHTSA Fines for Auto Companies
More money will be available to victims of the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia during May as Congress is set to increase the damage cap for train crashes by nearly 50% to $295 million, according to a compromise reached by members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives on the transportation bill today.
Gretchen Carlson of Fox News interviewed Jim McEldrew this afternoon on her television show. Jim has been representing injured individuals in railroad litigation for more than thirty years and formerly served as the President of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys. They discussed the implications of the foreign object and the potential for the railroad engineer to be confused as to his geographical position on the tracks.
McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt Partner and Railroad Attorney James J. McEldrew, III had his commentary on Positive Train Control published on the Philadelphia Inquirer website today. The article discusses the need for the automated system mandated by Congress in 2008 to be implemented by Amtrak and other railroads to prevent accidents like the one last night. It’s titled “U.S. railroad’s must adopt ‘train control’ now.”
We’ve been closely following the coverage of the Amtrak derailment since the news broke that there was a railroad accident in Philadelphia. Our hearts go out to the crew, passengers and their families right now. We’ve represented hundreds of railroad workers over the course of our legal careers and have spoken to a number of our contacts in this area about what is happening.
The Department of Transportation has a number of issues to tackle now, including spending on the nation’s highway infrastructure and strengthening the safety of motor vehicles, which we discussed in one of our blog posts last week. It seems likely that railroad safety will be added to that list following the two high profile train accidents to make the national news over the past month.
The first incident, on February 3rd outside of New York City, involved a Metro-North passenger train which derailed after striking an SUV on the tracks.
The second incident involved the derailment of a train pulling more than 100 oil tank cars during a snowstorm in West Virginia on Monday, February 16. As the crude oil exploded, it sent a massive fireball into the sky which was captured and played on the national news media.
Following these two accidents, there have been calls for improvement to both the safety of rail crossings and the transportation of crude oil by train.
Senators Schumer and Blumenthal have already announced that they will propose a bill to increase federal funding to improve the safety of railroad crossings. The Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015 will strengthen funding for improved education, engineering and enforcement at railroad crossings.
More than 200 people were killed nationwide at the nearly 2,100 grade crossing accidents last year. According to Operation Lifesaver, a person or vehicle is hit by a train roughly every three hours.
Additional regulation of trains carrying oil is likely to be on the way as well. The U.S. Department of Transportation developed a proposal for tougher regulation of the industry over the summer. The plan went to the White House for final review this month. It would require tougher shells on cars carrying oil and advanced braking systems.
However, it is not clear that the measures proposed would have prevented the West Virginia derailment. The government will probably take a fresh look at the regulations in light of the results of the present investigation. If the measures are determined inadequate, there will likely be additional rules put in place.
With the safety of motor vehicles and truck driving also hot issues, this could be the right time for comprehensive legislation to attempt to address the nation’s transportation problems. Perhaps it is time for a “Dodd-Frank” type bill before things get worse in the transportation industry.
Congress will consider a number of bills over the next year to improve motor vehicle safety and delayed recalls by manufacturers. There may also be support for changes to the regulation of truck drivers following the high profile crash between a Walmart truck and the limo carrying Tracy Morgan this summer. Given all of the transportation safety issues, a comprehensive bill might be best. This would probably also help the chances of passage for whistleblower rewards in the auto industry.
We will continue to follow these issues here as solutions are proposed. Railroad injuries are a major aspect of our trial attorneys’ practice. Jim McEldrew has represented clients in railroad litigation, including lawsuits under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) by railroad workers, for years. He also has extensive experience litigating serious injuries due to accidents involving cars and trucks.