PHILADELPHIA — Amtrak likely faces hundreds of millions of dollars in claims from victims of Tuesday night’s derailment, according to personal-injury lawyers who specialize in transportation accidents.

Because Congress capped such payouts for Amtrak in 1997, money to compensate victims probably will fall short of what is needed, these lawyers say.

Under the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act, damages paid by the government to people injured in Amtrak derailments and to families of those passengers killed were limited to $200 million per crash.

But with eight killed and about 200 of the 238 passengers injured, some very seriously, claims from this week’s crash almost surely will exceed that amount.

“You can assume almost everyone suffered some kind of injury,” said lawyer Nancy Winkler, whose firm, Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck P.C., specializes in accident cases. “When you have someone who is alive and needs ongoing medical care for the rest of their life, the cost can be $15 million or $20 million or more.”


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