Legislation is being introduced which, if passed, will be a sigh of relief for travelers utilizing Amtrak. H. R. 5751, Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act will end a January 2019 arbitration clause that Amtrak implemented and once more give customers the right to sue the company to resolve disputes.
This bill comes one month after an Amtrak train derailed in Montana, killing three and injuring dozens. This incident has been considered one of the deadliest railroad accidents in the United States since 2017.
One of the senators to bring forth the bill, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, explained that the bill will allow injured Amtrak passengers to seek redress against the passenger rail service and end the current forced arbitration and class action ban policies.
Unfortunately, many travelers who utilize Amtrak services are unaware that when they purchase a ticket, they essentially sign away legal rights to take action against the company should tragedy ensue.
Many argue that Amtrak’s current forced arbitration policy is unjust as the company receives billions of dollars in taxpayer money as a federally owned agency known as The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, yet those same individuals cannot take action against the service when accidents occur.
According to the Act, the legislation will, “prohibit predispute arbitration agreements that force arbitration of consumer and civil rights disputes between Amtrak and customers of Amtrak; and…prohibit agreements and practices that interfere with the right of customers to participate in a joint, class, or collective action related to consumer and civil rights disputes between Amtrak and customers of Amtrak.”
Under Amtrak’s current policies, injury parties who wish to take legal action against Amtrak must undergo arbitration. Within a ticket holders’ terms and conditions, Amtrak states:
“This Arbitration Agreement is intended to be as broad as legally permissible, and, except as it otherwise provides, applies to all claims, disputes, or controversies, past, present, or future, that otherwise would be resolved in a court of law or before a forum other than arbitration.”
The arbitration agreement lists a variety of personal injury and consumer rights conflicts that may occur, that ultimately fall under the agreement, including but not limited to, breach of contract, personal injury (including claims of negligence, physical impairment, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, wrongful death, etc.) and any claims for discrimination and/ or failure to accommodate.
However, in past cases, some victims of injury have been able to take Amtrak to court, citing negligence, injury, and wrongful death. But, this was before the implementation of the forced arbitration clause.
Within Amtrak’s terms and conditions, it does however state that “In rare cases, Amtrak cannot reach a resolution with a customer that feels fair to both sides. In these instances, Amtrak recognizes that our customers may want to pursue a remedy through legal channels. We understand and agree that you have the right to have your legal dispute decided by a neutral trier of fact.”
According to Public Citizen Inc. Amtrak is not the only major company to have forced arbitration agreements. A variety of major businesses in retail and consumer services, finance, health, housing, and workers contracts include forced arbitration agreements, many without the customer or employee realizing.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of an Amtrak train accident, sustained losses due to negligence by The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, or have lost a loved one from a train accident, Regan Zambri Long is here for you.
As consumer rights and personal injury advocates, we know that the arbitration agreements in place may make you feel hopeless and you may not even realize what options you have.
We can help. Our Amtrak train injury lawyers have a history of success, obtaining multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients injured in public transportation accidents. We can do the same for you.
To discuss your legal options and for guidance through arbitration or a trial, contact our personal injury lawyers by calling (202) 960-4596 or contact us online now to schedule your consultation today.Tagged Amtrak, Arbitration