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First known suit from Amtrak-truck crash has been filed

The best defense being a solid offense is a concept that goes back a long ways. A Google check of the phrase indicates that it may have been a philosophy espoused by Chinese military general Sun Tzu several thousand years ago.

Since then, it has been applied in any number of fields of conflict. Texas attorneys experienced in personal injury litigation have surely seen a version of the strategy employed in the prosecution of a civil action. It might be particularly effective in cases like one we wrote about back in March in which an Amtrak train crashed into a semitrailer truck's load at a rail crossing in North Carolina. Fifty-five passengers on the Amtrak train suffered injuries, some of them serious.

In an apparent display of defense through offense, Amtrak and CSX railroad recently filed suit in the matter. The two companies accuse the trucking company of failing to take proper safety measures. The result was an oversized load getting stuck across the tracks. But in addition to that, the suit alleges that the company was negligent in not informing rail dispatchers about the blockage.

The paperwork filed in federal court says the trucking company "should have known that its activities were inherently dangerous." Witnesses reported at the time that the truck's driver spent at least 15 minutes trying to clear the load from the track, but there's no indication that either he or two other civilian escort drivers ever called rail officials to warn them about the situation.

The suit also alleges that the trucking firm was negligent because the driver was hired despite his having a history of safety violations.

The amount of damages being sought by Amtrak and CSX isn't specified, but the lawsuit does say that the two companies expect to face personal injury suits from the victims and that the trucking company should be responsible for covering those claims.

Source: San Antonio Express-News, "Amtrak, CSX sue trucking company involved in NC derailment," Jonathan Drew, AP, May 1, 2015

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