Personal injury lawyers are filing more claims as the two-year anniversary of the Metro-North train derailment in Bridgeport approaches – and with it the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit.More claims are being added to the already formidable number of lawsuits filed against the railroad by passengers who were injured in the crash.
As of about a month ago, 27 lawsuits involving 32 passengers had been filed in federal court, according to court records. In the past week, five more claims were filed, all claiming that it was Metro-North’s negligence in failing to properly maintain the tracks that led to the derailment.
More than 70 people were injured in the crash, which happened when a Metro-North Railroad train derailed in Bridgeport on May 17, 2013 and crashed into another train headed the opposite direction.
According to state statutes, any action to recover damages for personal injury must be brought within two years of the date when the injury is sustained or discovered.
Although some of the lawsuits have been settled, many are still unresolved because the passengers involved suffered serious injuries “many of which are permanent in nature,” personal injury lawyer Joel Faxon said.
Faxon and his firm, Faxon Law Group, are representing Elizabeth and Peter Sorensen, who filed their lawsuit against the railroad a week after the derailment. According to the complaint, Elizabeth Sorensen sustained severe fractures to her legs, arm and pelvis and had to undergo multiple surgeries.
She also sustained brain trauma when she was thrown around the interior of the train when it derailed, according to her lawsuit.
The most recent lawsuits detail passenger injuries that vary from hand contusions to spinal cord injuries. All of the passengers claim that these injuries are the direct result of negligence or recklessness by Metro-North.
Faxon said he believes Metro-North “is actively trying to settle the cases” because the railroad knows it was at fault. After the crash, investigators found that a joint bar, used to join two sections of rail, was cracked. The piece had been replaced in April but was not properly inspected and maintained by Metro-North leading up to the crash, investigators found.
“You can’t have a train that doesn’t have a track,” Faxon said.
Metro-North’s attorneys declined to comment on the lawsuits.
The claims related to the derailment aren’t the only legal trouble facing the railroad. Personal injury lawyers for the family of the New York woman who was killed when a Metro-North train struck her SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, N.Y., in February recently filed a notice of claims – the first step toward a wrongful death lawsuit – against Metro-North and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, claiming that the conditions at the crossing were hazardous.
“This horrific accident was not the fault of Ellen Brody,” attorney Philip Russotti said in a statement. “It was due to a confluence of circumstances existing at the crossing which failed to meet standards of railroad crossing signage throughout this country, and which obviously prevented Mrs. Brody from having the knowledge necessary to protect herself.”
Five passengers in the first car of the train were killed in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.