June 20, 2014

Deadly NYC Train Derailment – Are Metro-North Settlements a PR Move?

By Jonathan Damashek

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Attorney Jonathan S. Damashek of Hecht, Damashek & Kleeger P.C. in New York is an expert in the fields of personal injury and civil rights.The Metro-North transit agency has recently settled a number of personal injury cases resulting from the deadly December 2013 New York City train derailment in the Bronx, which killed four passengers and injured over 60.

But Lawyer1 Attorney Jonathan S. Damashek, quoted in a major NY newspaper, said the early settlements appear to be “a PR move” by the transit agency. He says it’s “rare” for Metro-North to offer settlements so soon after a major accident.

Damashek in a New York Post article said that settling now is premature, at least for his client, who is still undergoing treatments for his injuries, including broken bones, internal injuries, and a major back injury that will require surgery. The full extent of the man’s injuries remains unknown at this juncture.

Defendants sued for negligence will often attempt to reach quick settlements as a way to minimize payments on claims.

Damashek said Metro-North has “no wiggle room on whether the operator of the train is negligent,” since the operator allowed the train to speed at 82 mph on a dangerous 30 mph curve at the time of the horrific accident.

Because negligence is not in dispute, the focus of the train derailment litigation is assessing the full extent of the injuries suffered by passengers, and the fair value of compensation for those injuries.

Out-of-court mediation is potentially an efficient process for resolving the 70-plus pending cases, Damashek said, since it can typically take a few months to resolve the cases, rather than trying them in court over a number of years.

A quicker, less costly resolution process can help injured victims and their families obtain fair legal compensation and move on with their lives, as lengthy litigation can compound the suffering of injury victims seeking closure of their legal cases.