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North Carolina truck-train crash sparks first known suits

Amtrak is in the news again -- the result of a tragic injury- and death-causing accident. That disaster happened in another state, but back in March the site was Halifax, North Carolina. Our post at that time offered the observation that the accident may have been the result of a failure to communicate.

Readers will likely recall that the incident involved an Amtrak train piling into the trailer of an oversized load truck that had gotten stuck at a crossing. More than 50 people on the train were hurt.

As we write this post, there is no word that anyone has died as a result of that crash and the official investigation into why the crash happened is not complete. But that has not delayed the efforts to begin sorting out accountability for injury compensation claims that are now expected.

Word came earlier this month that Amtrak and CSX, the company that owns the rails the train was on at the time, are suing the trucking company. The allegation is that the truck firm was negligent on two levels. First, the suit claims the firm's driver didn't take proper precautions to avoid getting stuck on the tracks. Second, it says the company or its representatives failed to inform either CSX or Amtrak about the situation.

Both of the plaintiff companies say they expect to face injury claims because of the crash, but they say the trucking company should be responsible for covering those costs because of its alleged failures.

Some might think it odd that the first known suit following such a crash pits the involved businesses against each other. But attorneys with experience in this kind of injury litigation will likely agree that it makes strategic sense as companies try to limit their risk of liability.

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