Amtrak agreed Thursday to pay $265 million to victims of a crash in Philadelphia in 2015 that killed eight and injured 200 when a train derailed in a curve at twice the speed limit.
The money will be divided among the victims through the settlement of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in eastern Pennsylvania.
Under the 25-page agreement, victims must decide by Nov. 21 whether to participate in the settlement. Two court masters will review submissions from the participants by Dec. 20. Amtrak and its insurers will give $265 million to a court-supervised trust by Feb. 28, with offsets for previous payments of up to $10,000 per passenger for funerals, transportation and lodging expenses. Participants will be notified by June 30 of the share they will receive, with payments expected in mid-July.
The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the engineer likely caused the crash because he was distracted by radio chatter that confused where he was on his route. The engineer, Brandon Bostian, told investigators he doesn’t remember what happened.
The train barreled into a 50-mph curve at 106 mph before derailing on May 12, 2015. Bostian lost track of where he was while listening to six minutes of radio calls about rocks through the windshield of another train that stopped on an adjacent track, investigators found.
Among the 238 people aboard the train, about 30 suffered catastrophic injuries, lawyers have told USA TODAY.
The settlement reflects an increase in the total damages possible in a railroad lawsuit. In December, Congress raised the cap on damages to $295 million from the $200 million limit set in 1997.
Congress had set the cap in an effort to protect the railroad industry, but lawmakers and victims of crashes argued it no longer represented the medical costs or lost income for victims. The increase roughly matched inflation since the cap was set.
Article courtesy of USA TODAY.