The investigation into a late-September train crash at a New Jersey transit station became a little more complicated when the National Transportation Safety Board revealed the data recorder on the train was not functioning during the trip.
A data recorder, when functioning properly, provides information on a train's speed, use of brakes and throttle position. The recorder on the Hoboken train was more than 20 years old, according to investigators.
The engineer told investigators he was travelling at 10 miles an hour when the train entered the terminal, contradicting earlier reports that the locomotive was moving faster. One woman standing on the platform was killed and at least 114 people were injured. The train was carrying about 250 passengers.
Last spring, New Jersey Transit was audited by the Federal Railroad Administration, which found “dozens of safety violations,” including trains that ran through switches, meaning the train travelled in a direction on the switch for which the tracks were not set.
On average over the last three years there have been more than 1,300 derailments annually of varying degrees of severity. However, the Federal Railroad Administration's definition of derailment is not necessarily a catastrophic event and the number includes both freight and passenger trains.
Nationwide, Texas is the state with the most derailments of all types of trains, followed by Illinois and California. Pennsylvania has the fifth highest number of derailments. Washington is 22nd on the list and Maryland is 34th.
Overall, since 2013, 15 passengers have been killed and 4,479 have been injured in passenger-train incidents. In 2013, three passengers, nation-wide were killed and 1,363 were injured. In 2014, five were killed and 1,293 injured. And in 2015, six were killed and 1,196 were injured. Through July of this year (the most recent update available), one passenger was killed and 627 were injured.
In 2013, four people died when the engineer of another New York City-area commuter train fell asleep at the controls and sped through a tight curve, derailing the train. Last year in Philadelphia, eight people died and about 200 were injured when an Amtrak train derailed after speeding through a sharp turn. In August, Amtrak started settling lawsuits with victims of the Pennsylvania derailment, however, a confidentiality provision in the settlement does not allow the victims to disclose the settlement sum. Federal law limits Amtrak's total liability to $295 million for any single crash.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed as a result of malfunctioning railway safety equipment or an incident while travelling by train, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 1-800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.