Senate Bill Would Raise Passenger Railroad Liability Limit

May 22, 2015

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has filed legislation aimed at helping victims of the deadly May 12 Amtrak derailment.

Nelson’s bill would raise the current $200 million cap on the amount a passenger rail company is obligated to pay victims after an accident to $500 million. It would be retroactive to May 12, 2015.

The bill would also permit the Secretary of Transportation to change the limit if the agency “determines that a different minimum level of financial responsibility is necessary or sufficient to satisfy claims.”

The current cap was set in 1997 by Congress.

The $200 million amount, some experts are saying, may not be enough for medical and other expenses given the scope of the potential damages in the most recent Amtrak crash in which eight passengers died with dozens were injured.

“We can’t allow anyone to suffer additionally due to an outdated cap based on mid-1990 dollars,” Nelson said.

Democrats tried but failed to raise the cap to $500 million in 2010 in the wake of a deadly two-train collision in California.

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