NEW YORK, NY., December 17, 2013 – Personal injury lawyer John Carro, senior trial partner of the Manhattan law firm of Carro, Carro & Mitchell LLP, discussed the early investigation into the recent derailment of a Metro-North commuter train in the Bronx and addressed several questions about the railroad’s potential legal liability in the wake of the filing of the first lawsuits.
Carro, who has almost thirty years of experience as a personal injury lawyer and has represented passengers injured in all manner of mass transportation accident – train, plane, subway, and bus, referred to the preliminary findings of the National Transportation Safety Board that the train was traveling at 82 miles per hour immediately before derailing on a dangerous curve with a speed limit of 30 mph.
“This proof of excess speed places a burden on the railroad to come forward with an explanation for the accident other than the engineer’s negligence,” Carro said. “Early statements indicate the engineer was sleepy or inattentive. The law holds the railroad responsible for his actions while operating that train.”
Carro said that a combination of excess speed and failure to quickly apply the brakes contributed to the tragedy.
“There is no apparent explanation other than human error,” he said. “All indicators are that the train failed to slow to a safe speed in time to negotiate a severe curve.”
Carro noted that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo traveled to the site and indicated speed as a factor in the crash. Carro also said he expects the investigation of the National Transportation Safety Board to reveal further important information about the crash.
“These trains have ‘event recorders’ similar to the ‘black box’ on passenger jets,” he said. “They record things like the speed of the train and whether the brakes were applied. Attorneys representing the injured can obtain this information and have the NTSB’s findings reviewed by safety engineering experts working on the lawsuits.”
Carro, who has frequently appeared as an expert legal commentator on television news and legal programs, explained that the investigation conducted as part of the lawsuits will look not just at the engineer’s operation of the train at the time of the accident, but at possible failings in railroad policy and procedure.
“The locomotive had a sophisticated ‘alerter’ system, which sounds a tone to keep the engineer attentive, but it was in the rear of the train, not in the front where the engineer sits,” he said. “Why didn’t the railroad have this safety feature in every engineer’s cabin?”
Carro said the technology to help prevent this type of tragedy is already in use – on other railroads.
“A system called positive train control technology can safeguard against human error and has been available for years,” he said. “Congress has mandated that rail lines have it in place by December 2015. But the MTA, which operates Metro North and the Long Island Rail Road, requested extensions and has not upgraded to the safer operating system.”
“This is at least the sixth Metro-North train derailment in the past two years.” noted Carro. “What kind of standard of care is that? These passengers had every right when they got on that train to expect everyone on the railroad would do their job properly and they would get to their destination safely. Their lives were in the hands of the MTA. They deserved better. The accounts of what those passengers experienced as those massive train cars jumped the rails, tumbling and sliding toward the river are chilling. I agree with what Governor Cuomo said: ‘It’s your worst nightmare.’”
Carro, Carro & Mitchell LLP is located at 276 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York. Those who wish to enlist the legal services of a personal injury lawyer may contact John Carro and the firm at (212) 213-5005.
About Carro, Carro & Mitchell LLP
The law firm of Carro, Carro & Mitchell LLP was founded by former New York State Supreme Court Judge John Carro. The firm specializes in personal injury cases and has extensive experience representing individuals injured on all forms of public transportation, including commuter trains, subways, airplanes and buses.
Thanks to TroyMason for the photo of a train.