• Attorney for Amtrak survivors speaks about case

    By: Linzi Sheldon

    Updated:

    As the survivors of the Amtrak derailment in DuPont work to recover, medical bills continue to add up for many of them.

    A cap put in place by Congress will limit the total amount of damages Amtrak could have to pay to them at $295 million.

    Seattle attorney Chris Davis is representing several survivors and described some of their injuries from the Monday morning derailment.

    “Broken bones, severe lacerations, head trauma, traumatic brain injury, loss of vision, impact to hearing,” he said. “I think there's going to be several people that are looking at-- probably years of medical treatment.”


    More on derailment from KIRO 7      


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    “When someone hears [$295 million] they think—‘That is so much money,’” KIRO 7 said to Davis. “Surely that has to cover this.”

    “You’d be surprised at how quickly a cap like that can be exhausted with the number of claims involved, like we see in this case,” Davis said. 

    “It’s not only dollar amounts for individuals -- personal injury claims like medical costs or pain and suffering-- but it also includes damages for property.”

    The costs to Amtrak for the deadly crash will extend far beyond the costs to victims and their families.

    After Governor Jay Inslee stated, following a conversation with Amtrak’s CEO, that “Amtrak will pay for the costs of the derailment, including all the medical and incidental expenses incurred by those injured and their families, the clean-up and repair of the roadway, and the restoration of passenger rail service,” KIRO 7 wanted to find out what those other costs could be.

    Taxpayers could be on the hook temporarily for expenses that need to be paid up front, like overtime for troopers and emergency responders. The Washington State Patrol told KIRO 7 that they would have an idea of their costs sometime in early January.

    WSDOT said it does not have its costs yet, but stated they would include workers who responded to the incident, operating costs of needed equipment, any contractors hired for the response, and any damage to WSDOT structure or property, including road damage to I-5 and the WSDOT-owned locomotive and train.

    Indeed, although Amtrak runs the service, the locomotive and 12 rail cars that plunged off the train bridge are owned by the state.

    After a train derailment in Philadelphia in 2015 that killed 8 people and injured more than 200, the NTSB released a report breaking down some of the costs for that incident.

    In it, the agency valued replacing the locomotive at just over $7 million dollars and each passenger coach at $2.75 million.

    Using those figures as estimates, replacing the rail cars and locomotive damaged on Monday could cost more than $40 million alone.
     

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