We have already received questions from our clients and other victims of the Washington Metro Accident concerning their legal rights. Metro victims should understand their legal rights in order to make informed decisions about whether they have a legal claim against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA or Metro), how much compensation they might be entitled to, how long they have to file a claim and related issues. We encourage all victims and their family members to contact an attorney for a free consultation with regard to their specific situation. This page is NOT intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied on by victims without consulting an attorney directly.
QUESTION: Has Traverse Legal been retained by train accident victims?
ANSWER: Yes, Traverse Legal's attorneys are currently representing victims of the Metro train collision and investigating the accident on their behalf. There are advantages to working with attorneys who represent other victims in terms of shared information and shared cost. We would be happy to discuss your case with you in a free no-risk consultation.
QUESTION: Can the WMATA be sued for negligence?
ANSWER: Yes, the WMATA is liable for negligence under common law. This means that victims will be entitled to compensation for emotional and physical injuries. Victim family members may also be entitled to compensation under law.
QUESTION: The WMATA has started a relief fund and provided a phone number for victims to call. Should I call the WMATA directly?
ANSWER: Our attorneys are advising Metro victims not to contact Metro directly for emergency relief funds. A common tactic for common carriers like Metro in mass accident situations is to get victims to contact them directly, before they have a chance to contact a lawyer and understand their legal rights. Our lawyers will contact Metro directly on your behalf at no charge to you and help you navigate the relief fund while avoiding the possibility that victims may inadvertently waive or release their claims for full damages and compensation. There is more information on the emergency relief fund here.
QUESTION: How long do I have to file a lawsuit in court?
ANSWER: There is a 3 years statute of limitations which may apply to this accident. However, because the cause of the accident has not yet been finally determined, you should contact an attorney immediately so that your rights to compensation are preserved. The time period could be shorter, and there is sometimes a much shorter period to provide written notice that you intend to file a claim.
QUESTION: What was the cause of the Metro train accident?
ANSWER: The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the accident, which may take 6 months or longer. However there is already information that the brakes on the train which caused the collision had not been in for brake work as scheduled six months prior to the crash. Further, the computer systems are designed to ensure that there is no chance of a collision such as this. The train operator had only been on the job for a short time.
QUESTION: Did negligence cause this collision?
ANSWER: Yes, at this point it is clear that negligence caused this accident which was avoidable and should never have occurred. The only question that remains is whether it was operator error, computer failure, safety system failure, failure of maintenance, product defect or some combination of these factors.
QUESTION: What sort of compensation am I entitled to receive from Washington Metro?
ANSWER: Depending on whether the lawsuit is for death, physical injury and/or emotional injury, compensation by way of settlement with Metro or a jury trial should include: lost wage, loss of earning capacity, loss, medical expenses, other economic loss, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society and companionship (spouse & children) and loss of consortium (spouse). There may be other damages available as well.
QUESTION: What if I was not physically injured but am suffering emotional trauma such as anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), flashbacks or depression?
ANSWER: You may still be entitled to recover damages for emotional harm. You should contact an attorney and obtain legal representation.
QUESTION: What do I have to pay a lawyer to represent me against Washington Metro?
ANSWER: We charge a contingency fee which means that if you don't recover any money, you do not pay any attorney fee. You do not need to pay any out of pocket attorney fee to pursue your case. If there is a recovery on your behalf, the law firm is reimbursed any expenses if paid on your behalf to fund the case and then the remaining funds are split 1/3 to the law firm and 2/3 to the client.
QUESTION: Should I wait to hire an accident attorney?
ANSWER: No. We recommend that you hire an experienced mass accident attorney to represent you as soon as possible. There is no risk to you. If you are not happy with your attorney at any time, you can change attorneys at no cost to you. These are complex matters which require experience and expertise. A good lawyer will help you understand your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve under law. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling some of the largest mass tort cases in recent history. As importantly, we pride ourselves on compassionate representation, A+ client relations, complete transparency and maximum recoveries on behalf of our clients.