Metrolink Train Crash: One of Our Nation’s Deadliest

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The Metrolink train crash in Chatsworth, California nearly two weeks ago has claimed 25 lives, caused 130 physical injuries and many more psychological injuries may yet be discovered. Experts are saying that the accident is one of our nation’s deadliest train crashes to date.

What happened?

At 4:32pm on September 12, 2008, a Metrolink passenger train collided with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, California just north of Los Angeles. Twenty-five people were killed and over 130 injured. Many have blamed Metrolink’s train engineer for the crash; however, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is continuing its investigation and has not yet revealed its findings. While taking the proper amount of time to do a thorough investigation is certainly important, victims of the accident may not realize that time is not on their side.

Laws limit victims’ recoveries

The Amtrak Reform & Accountability Act was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton in 1997. While its passage was seen as a way to assist the ailing railway, it also limited the amount of recovery that victims can receive. That limit is $200 million, which seems like a lot of money at first glance. However, that figure represents the maximum amount of recovery per occurrence, so anyone involved in the same accident must share that amount – for both economic and non-economic damages.

What does that mean for victims?

To answer that question, we contacted Attorney Emery Ledger of the Ledger Law Group in California. According to Ledger, “It is important for victims of this accident and their families to assert their claims immediately due Staute of Limitations and the potential that other claimants may dilute the recover limited avialabe funds designated for this accident.

Ledger says that the $200 million limit of the Amtrak Reform & Accountability Act won’t serve the needs of the victims of this accident. He says that the first thing his firm will do is challenge the constitutionality of the Amtrak Reform & Accountability Act, as it has never been challenged since its passage. If you’ve been injured due to a train accident, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. To speak with an experienced attorney, please click here. We may be able to help.

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