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Suit brought in truck-train collision that injured 55

The filing of a civil action in court often has a monetary recovery component to it. But experienced attorneys in Texas know that there are times when such filings are as much a matter of strategy as they are about obtaining compensation. Understanding when to leverage the courts in this way is something that comes from direct practice.

Tactical advantage seems to be what is being sought in connection with a case we wrote about back in March. Readers may recall the story. An Amtrak train crashed into truck on a crossing in North Carolina. The collision derailed several Amtrak cars and left 55 people injured. One of the big questions at the time centered on what, if any, communication efforts were made to try to prevent the accident.

Investigators reportedly were focused on determining whether the truck's driver or escorting authorities had done all they could to inform rail officials that the truck's oversized load was stuck on the tracks. It's unclear whether any official conclusions have been reached. What is clear from action this past week is that Amtrak and CSX, the company that owns the track, are looking to make sure that they don't wind up being held solely to blame.

The two companies filed suit in federal court in Raleigh, North Carolina. They are alleging that the driver of the truck disregarded safety warnings at the crossing, spent up to 20 minutes trying to move the truck and ultimately failed to inform the rail firms of the situation. An additional claim in the suit accuses the trucking company of failing to take proper safety precautions.

The suit does make a pitch for damages, but the amount is listed only as being greater than $75,000 for each company. What is more telling is that the documents note that the two rail companies expect claims to be filed by passengers injured in the crash and they say the trucking company should be responsible for making good on those claims.

This seems to be an application of the adage that sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

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