Some accidents are the result of such reckless behavior that criminal charges are filed against the person or business responsible for the incident. A deadly train derailment in Philadelphia resulted in multiple criminal charges filed against the operator, but it seems that they are all going to be dismissed.
Train derails in Philadelphia causing injuries and death
An accident on a Philadelphia train in 2015 caused 8 people to die and caused about 200 other injuries of varying severity. The Amtrak engineer who was operating the train at the time had been charged criminally for his actions at the time leading up to the accident, but they were recently dropped. The Pennsylvania state attorney general’s office expressed concern over the ruling and intends to appeal the judge’s decision.
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the immediate event which started the problem was a distraction from a radio transmission about another nearby train that collided with some rocks. While the operator was not paying attention, the train rounded a curve at about 100mph in a 50mph zone and lost its bearings immediately before the crash. The judge that was assigned the case threw out the manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges against the operator saying his actions did not amount to criminal behavior under any reasonable standard. A lawyer for the victims released a statement that they still intend to pursue justice through other means.

Does the dismissal of criminal charges end the possibility of litigation?
Even after these criminal cases go away, the best route for the victims and their families is to file a civil lawsuit against the transportation company and the operator. This is the only way to receive compensation related to things like medical or funeral expenses, along with any continued trauma that is tied to the incident. The fact that the criminal charges were dropped does not preclude any victim from filing a civil case related to the same incident, as these are different court systems with different burdens of proof. A civil claim will also be for negligence, which has totally different elements from criminal charges of manslaughter or reckless endangerment. Negligence claims are the most common type of personal injury lawsuit for things like motor vehicle accidents or unsafe public spaces that cause injuries.
Because the civil case has a lower burden of proof, an attorney only essentially has to prove that the operator violated a normal duty of care by operating the train in an unsafe manner. This can be a much simpler task than proving intentional acts or reckless disregard for life in many criminal cases. It is not important to become an expert in negligence laws, but your accident attorney can provide more concrete guidance after receiving some basic information related to the facts of your case.
Speak with local accident attorneys in Pennsylvania
To get help after any kind of accident in the Philadelphia or Lehigh Valley areas, contact Metzger and Kleiner Attorneys at Law. They are available to provide more specific information about the value of your case based on your particular accident.

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