Auto Train Derailment

1341 views
8 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February, 2016
  • From: Texas
  • 880 posts
Auto Train Derailment
Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, March 31, 2018 5:49 PM

If an Auto Train passenger's personal vehicle is damaged badly or totaled in a derailment, ala the recent derailment in Carolina, who wears the liability?

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,668 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, March 31, 2018 7:46 PM

I thought this would be clear from previous threads here.  

Any damage to Amtrak, whatever its origin, is Amtrak's liability.  They may try to recover part or all the damages from others (in the case of the Cayce accident, CSX and/or some of its employees or contractors) but that would not concern our hypothetical car owner, who would simply receive damages from Amtrak. 

  • Member since
    February, 2016
  • From: Texas
  • 880 posts
Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, April 01, 2018 12:16 PM

Overmod

I thought this would be clear from previous threads here. 

I ran a search for autos damaged while being carried on the Auto Train.  I did not turn up anything that would answer my question.  I did find several threads that discussed damages to vehicles being carried by the freight carriers in a car carrier, but nothing on vehicles damaged while in Amtrak's care. 

I was not referring to damages to Amtrak's equipment.  My question pertained to the personal vehicles of the passengers being carried on the train.

My car is insured to the hilt by MetLife.  Presumably, if it were damaged while being carried by Amtrak on the Auto Train, MetLife would be responsible for making me whole as per the terms and conditions of my auto insurance policy.  

If MetLife had to make me whole, could it then go against Amtrak to recover the cost of doing so.  Or is there a provision in the contract with Amtrak that places it first in line to make the owner of a personal vehicle damaged while on the Auto Train whole?

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,668 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 01, 2018 2:09 PM

I don't think there is any requirement for existing coverage in Amtrak's policy: they would pay you the 'totaled' value of the car directly (and likely let you keep the car if you wanted it or parts from it).  Something very similar happened when a  person driving a 'company car' from a fairly substantial business rear-ended one of our crews: as he was at fault they were eager to make us whole ASAP instead of (presumably) suing deep-pockets for further damages.

It would indeed be interesting to see what was done by the original Auto Train company when cars were damaged or wrecked -- but again my guess would be that even with no-fault coverage you would not be expected to file a claim with your insurer in order to accept Amtrak's offer of settlement. 

To answer your direct question: were you to file a claim with MetLife and be paid by them, I would expect MetLife to subrogate Amtrak to recover both their payment and your deductible, as well presumably as their fair costs.  And I would expect them to get it. 

 An open question for 'insured to the hilt' motorists might arise if the replacement offer from your insurer is more generous than that made by Amtrak (for example, the Liberty Mutual 'comparable car one year newer' claim).  In that case I would presume you would take the better offer and the insurer would go after Amtrak 'on the back end'.  Whether that would affect your rates or presumed risk category I can't say; you might not get a straight answer from your agent.

 

 

  • Member since
    February, 2016
  • From: Texas
  • 880 posts
Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, April 01, 2018 6:55 PM

Overmod,

Thanks for your response.  It is helpful.

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 1,110 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 5:48 AM

Every time I hsve ridden A-T, they inspected the car from bumper to bumper, so they would not be held liable for any preexisting damages. I think it indicates that any damage done to your  car enroute would be thier responsibility.   Just thinking.

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 1,061 posts
Posted by ATSFGuy on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:58 PM

Is the derailment serious or minor?

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 14,101 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 7:57 PM

ATSFGuy
Is the derailment serious or minor?

I believe 'minor' CSX delivered the auto carriers to Auto Train at Sanford several days later.  What the condition of the cars in the auto carriers were is unknown.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • 3,006 posts
Posted by ACY Tom on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 2:30 PM

The question may be moot. As I was told by somebody who was there, all paasenger cars passed over the track defect without a problem. The two auto carriers directly behind the crew dorm did derail and tilted to one side, but they were both empty. Behind them, a number of auto carriers remained on the track. Then two more cars derailed. These did contain autos, but they remained upright and I understand the autos were not damaged.

The cause of the derailment was a broken rail on CSX's mainline. No defects were noted on any Amttrak equipment. 

The passenger cars continued on to Florida after a delay, and the auto carriers were brought down the following day. This meant the train was annulled for one day. 

Tom 

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy