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Legal Liability Encompasses Condition of Rail Tracks in 9/25 Amtrak Derailment in Montana

As rail experts turn to the condition of the railroad tracks near the site of September 25’s Amtrak derailment in Montana, that left three people dead and dozens injured, Clifford Law Offices, an experienced law firm in representing families injured or killed in Amtrak crashes, is looking into the legal consequences for those who might be responsible for this tragedy.

Clifford Law Offices has represented passengers in numerous rail crashes and derailments, one of the latest being a number of people injured or killed in the derailment of Amtrak 501 near Seattle, Washington. A settlement of $57 million was recently reached on behalf of the firm’s clients in a 2017 derailment.

The firm has had several inquiries regarding the latest derailment, and its team of rail experts is examining all possible causes of this tragic crash.


Saturday’s Amtrak train was headed from Chicago to Seattle when it derailed in Joplin, Montana. It was reported to have 162 people on board that included 16 crew members. Rail experts looking into the cause of the derailment say, excluding human error, most wrecks are caused by faulty equipment — a wheel, an axle, switching equipment or the track itself. 

The train derailed on tracks owned and maintained by BNSF Railway Company, a freight railroad. Most of Amtrak’s national network runs on tracks that belong to freight railroads. A 14-member National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) team including investigators and railroad signal specialists will be looking into the cause of the accident on the BNSF Railway track, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.

“We certainly will wait to see what the investigation uncovers, but what we have seen in our prior experience is that most of these derailments are preventable,” said Sean Driscoll, partner at Clifford Law Offices and lead counsel in the 2017 Amtrak derailment in Seattle. “In our experience in representing families who have lost loved ones in derailments or those who have been injured, we have found that training, infrastructure and maintenance are what need to be particularly examined.”

Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner at Clifford Law Offices with more than 40 years of rail litigation experience on behalf of plaintiffs, said the firm immediately deploys a go-to team of experts to preserve the evidence to get to the bottom of what happens when a terrible rail tragedy like this happens because the rail company and its insurers do so on its own behalf.

Clifford Law Offices has represented a number of people in numerous rail tragedies around the country.  For example, Kevin Durkin, partner at the firm, served as Co-Lead Counsel in the Amtrak crash that killed 11 people and injured hundreds more in Bourbonnais, Illinois.  The firm represented Rachel Barton, an internationally acclaimed violinist, who was severely injured when a Metra train ran over her as she departed the train in suburban Chicago.  The four-week highly publicized trial resulted in a $29.6 million verdict on her behalf.

To speak to Sean Driscoll or a member of the transportation liability legal team at Clifford Law Offices, please contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 (cell).

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