South Carolina Amtrak Train Crash: Assessing Liability from an Attorney’s Perspective

A train crash involving a Amtrak passenger train and an unmanned CSX freight train in Lexington County, South Carolina near Columbia, has left at least two people dead and over 100 injured.

While experts are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong, early news reports indicate the Amtrak train was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck the unoccupied CSX freight train that was parked on those tracks.

In statements, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on a switch that diverted the Amtrak train onto the freight train’s path.  The switch was reportedly padlocked into the position that sent the Amtrak train on its deadly course.   Since the tracks are owned and operated by CSX, Amtrak has publically reported that CSX is responsible for the crash.

Those confirmed killed in the crash were an Amtrak engineer and conductor.   Additionally, scores of passengers were taken to local hospitals in various states of distress. The damage was described as “catastrophic.”

For those injured in the crash and the families of the two men who were killed, it will be important to determine exactly what events transpired to cause this horrific incident, and what can be done to prevent future tragedies.

If a South Carolina attorney was handling a case on behalf of victims of this particular Amtrak/CSX train crash, he or she would be rely heavily on the reports produced by the National Transportation Safety Board as well as conducting exhaustive, independent research into the crash and into any and all liable parties.  Serious cases like these depend heavily on expert witnesses, who can help piece together the events to paint a clearer picture of what transpired, and more importantly, what could have been done to prevent this.

It seems clear that human error played a significant role in this tragic train crash.  Those responsible must be held accountable. Getting to the bottom of what happened will be a tall task, but one that is absolutely necessary. Those injured and killed, their families and all future Amtrak passengers deserve it.