While millions of Americans enjoyed spending time with friends and family on Super Bowl Sunday, two individuals lost their lives in tragic circumstances early that morning. A catastrophic train crash occurred near Columbia, South Carolina, killing two Amtrak employees and injuring more than 100 other people who were on board.
The Amtrak passenger train, which was headed from New York's Penn Station to Miami, Florida, struck a parked CSX freight train and was derailed, according to an NPR report. There were no immediate passenger fatalities, but two Amtrak workers, a conductor and an engineer, were killed.
A pattern of train safety problems
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating what happened in South Carolina on Sunday morning. Apparently, the ill-fated train was diverted to the wrong track. CNN reported that NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt made statements suggesting that the accident may have been caused by a track-switching error. But railway "accidents" like this are becoming a very regular occurrence.
Several recent, fatal train crashes suggest that there is a pervasive safety problem with Amtrak and with our nation's rail infrastructure -- and that Amtrak employees and customers are exposed to preventable danger. For example:
- Barely a week before the South Carolina accident, a train carrying members of Congress fatally hit a truck driver when it struck a vehicle that was on the tracks.
- Dozens were injured and at least three were killed in December when another Amtrak train crashed and derailed after reportedly traveling at 78 miles per hour in an area with a posted 30 m.p.h. speed limit.
The rights of workers who are hurt because of negligence
It's not just Amtrak workers who are put at risk by negligence and disorganization. Any worker who is seriously injured on the job (or his or her family members) should talk to an experienced attorney about their right to compensation through a third-party injury or death claim, which is separate from what workers' comp may provide.
Of course, injured passengers are also entitled to assert a claim for personal injuries. They should also contact an experienced attorney regarding their rights.