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06/24/09   |   By

Emergency Brake Failure May Be Cause of Metro Rail Collision | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

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Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

Lena H. Sun and Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post reports that federal officials have announced that “[t]he operator of the Metro train that slammed into a stationary train in front of it apparently had activated the emergency brakes in a failed effort to stop before the accident.”

The emergency brake activator is known as the “mushroom,” and sources say that it was depressed at the time of the collision.  When before the crash the brakes were actually engaged has not yet been determined.  What seems apparent, though, is that the train was in “automatic mode” and should have automatically stopped without operator intervention.

The report states that “experts say these facts point to several possible scenarios: The operator activated the brakes too late; the computers that are supposed to stop a train from getting too close to another train faltered; the train’s brakes failed; or some combination of those. Some passengers on the striking train have said that they never felt the train slow down.”

Although WMATA officials are suggesting that there is no evidence of driver error or system signal errors, it is clear that this terrible event was avoidable and would not have happened but for carelessness.

And although WMATA officials maintain that the train cars are safe, “federal investigators consider the cars to be unsafe because of a tendency during a crash to collapse into one another like a telescope, reducing the ‘survivability’ space, or the area in a car in which passengers can escape harm,” comments the Post report.

Mr. Zambri has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specialize in personal injury matters.  He has successfully litigated multiple cases against Metro and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  He has also been named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine.

Many Americans are killed or injured each year in vehicular collisions.  If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

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