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Arbitrary Cap On Damages Will Deny Amtrak Crash Victims the Justice They Deserve

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Most of the attention to the horrific May 12 Amtrak derailment has focused on what could have been done to prevent it (delays in implementing an automatic speed control system) and the carnage it caused (eight dead and 200 injured, many seriously). Yet the wounded passengers and their loved ones can't dwell on the crash; they must look to the future as they pick of the pieces of their shattered lives and work to put them back together. Infuriatingly, however, Congress will tie their hands as they try to do so.

In a feat of illogicality to which no other institution could aspire, our great legislative body passed a federal law in 1997 that caps total rail-accident damages at $200 million. The number of passengers and severity of the injuries is of no consequence to this cap, which is unyielding and purely arbitrary. No rationale exists for this particular amount, and Congress made no effort to ensure its adequacy in the case of a serious crash.

In the recent derailment in Philadelphia, where 200 were hurt and the severity of injuries were in some cases extreme, this randomly selected limit may not cover the medical expenses incurred by the injured riders, let alone account for their future care. Much like the Texas "tort reform" movement of the 1990s to the present, everyday Americans who suffer tragedy through no fault of their own are left without recourse. The justice to which they are entitled has again been taken away by half-witted legislator protecting corporate profits over their constituents-a tragedy of its own replayed too often in recent years. Read more about the cap on damages at Bloomberg Business.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a train accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584.

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