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Recent Bronx train crash raises questions about MTA safety

Most New Jersey residents are aware of the recent Metro-North train accident in the Bronx that killed four passengers and injured dozens more. The train engineer and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have been widely blamed for the accident, and the engineer has been suspended without pay.

According to investigators, the train derailed after approaching a curve at 82 miles per hour, nearly three times the posted speed of 30 mph. As a result, the entire seven-car train left the tracks.

The train's engineer has claimed he was in a daze just before the accident. His attorney described the engineer's mental state at the time of the wreck as similar to highway hypnosis or road fatigue.

The Federal Railroad Administration, which is the federal agency that oversees train operations, has expressed concern with the MTA's safety record because of three Metro-North accidents in the last year that have resulted in five fatalities.

On May 17, two trains derailed and collided in Bridgeport, Connecticut, injuring dozens of passengers. On May 28, a Metro-North employee was killed by a train while doing maintenance work on tracks near a new station in West Haven, Connecticut. On July 18, a CSX freight train derailed in the Bronx near the scene of the most recent accident.

Those who lose loved ones in such accidents are directly affected. Beyond the grief, some surviving family members face financial distress from medical bills, funeral expenses and lost income if a victim was a breadwinner.

Regardless of what type of accident claims a life, family members of a victim in New Jersey can choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Besides holding a negligent party responsible, a suit may entitle family members to compensation to pay for funeral expenses and to help avert financial distress.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "Train's Engineer Suspended Without Pay after Fatal Crash," December 6, 2013

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