Damages Sought After New York Train Accident

The Metro-North train accident that left four people dead and dozens of others injured has raised many questions. Safety mechanisms were supposed to be in place that would sound a warning to the engineer, requiring a tap to show that the engineer was awake and alert. It is unknown, however, whether or not the safety mechanisms were activated when the train took off.

The engineer at the time of the crash was William Rockefeller, Jr., age 46. Rockefeller does not remember what happened right before the crash and does not know why the train was barreling along at 82 mph as it approached a steep curve that called for a 30 mph limit. By the time he realized what was happening, the Grand Central Terminal-bound train was already off the tracks at the dangerous curve that is north of the Spuyten Duyvil station. The train cars came to rest just inches from water at the intersection of the Hudson and Harlem rivers.

State law requires negligence claims to be filed against the railroad, not the train engineer. However, there are victims from the accident who are seeking damages for loss of earnings, inability to work, and posttraumatic stress.

This is the fourth serious train accident that Metro-North Commuter Railroad has experienced since May 2013. A 60-day investigation called Operation Deep Dive is underway to examine and assess whether the company is in compliance with all federal regulations. The strike-force team will investigate technical factors, human factors, and everything in between.

In 2008, Congress ordered rail lines to adopt new upgrades by December 2015 that include what is called positive train control technology. This includes a combination of wireless radio, GPS, and computing systems that will monitor trains and stop them from derailing or colliding. An MTA spokesperson said that the agency has begun work on installing the upgrades, but the cost for full implementation of the technology is estimated at $900 million.