The widow of an Illinois man who was killed in a Montana Amtrak crash has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amtrak and the BNSF Railway Company.
Train on Cross-Country Trip
The fatal Montana Amtrak crash took place on September 25, 2021. Rebecca Schneider, of Fairview Heights in Southern Illinois, and her husband, 28-year-old Zachariah Schneider, were among the 141 passengers and sixteen crew members on board Amtrak Empire Builder Train 7/27. The train was on a cross-country trip from Chicago to Seattle, traveling on tracks owned, operated, and maintained by the BNSF Railway Company.
At approximately 4:00 p.m. on the date in question, eight of the train’s ten cars derailed at the East Buelow switch point near Joplin, MT. At least four of the cars were thrown from the tracks and tipped over onto their sides, including the viewing car in which Rebecca’s husband was riding.
Zachariah was killed in the Montana Amtrak crash, as were Don and Margie Varnadoe, a married couple in their early 70s who were taking a trip for their 50th wedding anniversary. Among the other passengers who were injured, five were admitted to Benefis Health System Hospital in Great Falls, MT, with two of them taken to the intensive care unit.
Montana Amtrak Crash Suit Alleges Negligence
On September 28, personal injury attorneys representing Rebecca Schneider and the Estate of Zachariah Schneider filed a federal lawsuit against Amtrak and the BNSF Railway Company in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The suit alleges negligence, wrongful death, and personal injury.
The damage claims in the lawsuit include Zachariah’s mental and physical “severe injuries,” as well as the loss of “the future he would have lived.” Rebecca, who had to use a sledgehammer to escape from her own train car, also claims she experienced “life-altering injuries” in the Montana Amtrak crash.
The lawsuit further alleges that Zachariah’s death may have been caused by defects ranging from poorly maintained tracks and switches to improper inspections.
Cause of Montana Amtrak Crash Unclear
So far, the exact cause of the Montana Amtrak crash remains unclear. The incident is being investigated by a fourteen-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board that includes railroad signal specialists and other investigators.
The derailment occurred at a switch on the BNSF Railway track while the train was traveling at approximately 75 miles per hour. Outside experts suggest that the switch or the rail may have been a factor in the accident. The track had last been inspected on September 23, according to a BNSF Railway spokesperson.
Have You Been Injured in a Train Accident?
If you have been injured in a train accident, you may soon encounter many obstacles as you attempt to obtain financial compensation for your losses, including the difficulty of establishing exactly who or what was responsible. Train accidents are necessarily complex, given the number of parties and the level of technology involved.
Depending upon the nature of the incident, you may be able to pursue a claim against the company operating the train, the entity maintaining the tracks, the train’s manufacturer, the driver of another vehicle, or some combination of these. Identifying all the parties who may be at fault is critical. Failure to do so within the time specified by law could forever bar you from being fully and fairly compensated.
In the face of these seemingly insurmountable challenges, many injured people find that they could benefit from the type of knowledgeable legal counsel that thousands of satisfied clients have received from the personal injury attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys have the experience, the determination, and the resources, and the proven record of success you need to help get you and your family the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with a personal injury attorney. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives at any time.