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Amtrak liability capped under federal law

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Amtrak, one of whose trains derailed in Washington on Monday, reportedly killing at least three, has a liability cap of $294.3 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The cap was raised from $200 million under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 and linked to inflation.

According to news reports, an Amtrak passenger train on its inaugural trip on a new service route derailed Monday morning near DuPont, Washington, spilling multiple cars off an Interstate 5 overpass killing at least three and injuring about 100.

A spokesman for Washington, D.C.-based Amtrak could not immediately be reached for comment on the railroad’s insurance coverage. 

Andrew J. Maloney III, a New York-based partner with plaintiff law firm Kreindler & Kreindler L.L.C., said there is a question as to whether the new cap would be adequate to cover all the loses associated with the crash.  He said his firm has lobbied unsuccessfully to have the cap removed.

Amtrak said in its fiscal year 2016 report in connection with a May 2015 derailment of a New York-bound train in which eight people were killed and more than 200 people injured, that the estimated replacement cost of property damaged was $57.6 million. It said as of October 2016, it had reached a settlement with its property insurers for a total payment of $50.8 million, less a $10 million self-insured retention.

At the time of the 2015 crash, Amtrak’s insurers included: American International Group Inc., Zurich Insurance Co., Swiss Re Ltd., W.R. Berkley Corp. and Amtrak’s Bermuda captive Passenger Railroad Insurance Ltd., according to Mr. Maloney, who represented passengers involved in the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report last month that a weak safety culture led to a 2016 derailment of an Amtrak train that killed two employees.

http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20171115/NEWS08/912317285/Safety-culture-led-to-Amtrak-derailment-National-Transportation-Safety-Board