A May 12, 2015 crash of an Amtrak commuter train claimed eight lives and caused about 200 injuries when the engineer accelerated to 106 miles per hour on a 50 mile-per-hour curve. Nevertheless, the engineer will not face criminal charges, according to an article in the New Jersey Herald.
Federal investigators determined that the engineer lost his “situational awareness” when he was distracted by information about a minor accident affecting another train just before the crash. The engineer was not impaired by drugs or alcohol or distracted by a cellphone at the time, according to investigators.
Prosecutors in the case determined that this information was not enough to support criminal charges. They say that they cannot prove the engineer acted with “conscious disregard” when he accelerated the train into the curve, resulting in a crash.
Amtrak has agreed to pay $265 million to settle claims resulting from the accident. Several attorneys for the injured passengers, however, expressed their disappointment with the news that no criminal charges would be filed. They believe that even if the “conscious disregard” standard cannot be met, a lesser charge, such as that of “reckless endangerment,” would be appropriate.
The engineer has also filed a personal injury claim against Amtrak, stating that he was injured by something that had struck the train just before the accident occurred. Federal investigators have not found any evidence that the train was struck, however. The engineer’s friends describe him as a lifelong train enthusiast, for whom being an engineer was a “dream job.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also weighed in on the accident, stating that Amtrak’s failure to property regulate train speeds in the Northeast Corridor may have been a contributing factor to the crash. The Northeast Corridor is Amtrak’s busiest section of the country.
If you or someone you care about was injured in an accident, the personal injury attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza P.C. are ready to talk to you. Our experienced legal team investigates each client’s accident and fights for the full and fair compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.