Amtrak will pay $265 million to settle claims related to a crash last year that killed eight people and injured more than 200 others when a speeding train derailed on a curve.
The settlement allows victims to have their awards in hand by June instead of waiting years for lawsuits to play out, their lawyers said Thursday. The deadline to join the settlement program is Nov. 21.
“The program basically allows for a judge, with help from two masters, to hold hearings and evaluate damages, according to the attorney who led the team of plaintiffs’ lawyers negotiating with Amtrak.
U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis of Philadelphia approved the settlement Thursday.
Amtrak had previously taken responsibility for the May 2015 crash in Philadelphia of the Northeast Regional train traveling from Washington to New York. Federal law caps payouts for any one accident at $295 million.
Amtrak has agreed to put up the money by Feb. 28. Individuals may get the full value of their claims – or more or less – depending on how far the settlement fund stretches. Victims will have the opportunity to testify at hearings or submit documents describing their ordeal. Some say they’ve racked up millions of dollars in medical bills.