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Metrolink accident and federal cap on compensation

A Metrolink accident that occurred four years ago in Los Angeles County demonstrates how difficult it sometimes can be to successfully litigate a personal injury case. A federal cap on amounts that can be recovered has left some feeling that the award in the case was inadequate.

The Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act, that was passed a number of years ago, have set liability at $200 million per railroad accident - even if such an accident results in wrongful death claims. Those involved in the Metrolink accident feel that recovery would be far above this $200 million sum if such a cap would not be in place due to the severity of the crash.

Twenty-five people were killed in the head-on crash that occurred in 2008, and over 100 individuals were also injured as a result of the accident. Evidence at trial showed that an engineer had been texting messages prior to the crash, and this likely resulted in the engineer not seeing the red light signal designed to alert the engineer of an oncoming train.

Unfortunately, personal injury attorneys must litigate such matters in the context of regulations that limit the amount of recovery. Under such circumstances, attorneys nevertheless must apprise their clients of all possible options available.

Experienced attorneys sometimes see an avenue of recovery that other attorneys might miss. For example, though limited in recovering compensation from one party does not mean other parties cannot be pursued, etc.

Obviously, negligent railroads must be punished for negligent behavior that results in 25 people being killed. More importantly, however, the concerns of injured individuals and family members also need to be addressed.

Source: The Republic, "As anniversary approaches, Metrolink crash victims say liability cap leaves them lacking money," September 9, 2012

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