Amtrak Empire Builder Train Derailed Near Joplin, MT: 3 Killed, Dozens Injured


On September 25, a westbound Amtrak Empire Builder train derailed in rural Montana, killing three people and injuring about 50. The derailment happened about 4 p.m. on the BNSF Railway near Joplin and north of Great Falls.

The 10-car Empire Builder Train #7 departed from Chicago, Illinois the day before, with about 141 passengers and 16 crew members. Eight of the 10 cars derailed, per Amtrak.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) dispatched a team of technical experts to the scene of the derailment to thoroughly investigate, thereby supporting the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in examining the causes of the accident. According to a statement from FRA deputy administrator Amit Rose, the primary goal is to prevent a similar derailment from happening again.

Amtrak stated in a press release that it is cooperating and “working closely” with the FRA, NTSB, and local law enforcement and response agencies. However, it also stated that it will not provide further comment on the accident until the NTSB wraps up its investigation.

In the meantime, Amtrak initiated its Incident Response Team and sent personnel and leadership to the scene. It established a Family Assistance Center in Great Falls, as well as dispatched nurse case managers to those who have been hospitalized.

Amtrak does not yet have permission to access the derailment site to retrieve the personal effects of passengers and crew.

If your loved one was on Empire Builder Train #7, Amtrak advises to call 800-523-9101 for more information.

Advocating for Victims of Train Derailments and Train Passengers Injured by Amtrak

At Hoyt & Blewett PLLC, our Great Falls train derailment attorneys were deeply saddened to hear of the fatal derailment of Empire Builder Train #7. We send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones and wish those injured a speedy recovery.

Our experienced team of train derailment attorneys is composed of staunch advocates for train safety. Time and again, we have represented the individuals injured by Amtrak and BNSF as well as other victims of train crashes and derailments across the State of Montana. For example, our firm represented more than 100 victims of the Montana Rail Link train derailment in Alberton, MT that forced the evacuation of all 400 of Alberton’s residents. We also represented the only individual who was injured as a result of runaway Montana Rail Link train that derailed and caused an explosion in Helena, MT that prompted the evacuation of hundreds of Carroll College students. Montana Rail Link train derailment explosion

Under Montana law, Amtrak, as a common carrier, owes a heightened duty of care to its passengers, i.e. those who have entrusted their safety to Amtrak. In addition, BNSF is also responsible for the maintenance of the railroad track, which it leases to Amtrak. As with any derailment, it is important to carefully scrutinize the lease agreement and determine whether the maintenance of the railroad track contributed to the derailment. The unfortunate truth is that many train accidents and/or derailments involving Amtrak and BNSF are preventable. Those directly impacted by a train derailment may be entitled to monetary compensation for their injuries and damages. Our firm has successfully represented numerous individuals who have been negligently injured by Amtrak and BNSF. In addition to settling numerous personal injury claims against Amtrak, our firm has also successfully taken Amtrak to trial and obtained the following jury verdicts against Amtrak:

  • Will Lewis v. Amtrak ~ $841,500
  • William Short v. Amtrak ~ $350,000

Our firm has decades of experience handling personal injury claims against railroads and holding BNSF liable for the personal injuries it has negligently caused. Our firm has taken BNSF to trial numerous times and obtained the following jury verdicts against it:

  • Woods v. BNSF ~ $969,796.78
  • Dorn v. BNSF ~ $7,008,000.00
  • Turner and Oskowski v. BNSF ~ $838,500.00
  • Fred Brown v. BN ~ $200,000.00
  • Eugene Bevacqua v. Union Pacific ~ $320,000.00
  • David Dunkelberger v. BN ~ $450,000.00
  • Janssen v. BN ~ $1,097,197.96
  • Counts v. BN ~ $ 430,000.00
  • Nilson v. BN ~ $ 435,000.00
  • Brewington v. BN ~ $ 400,000.00

If you are considering hiring a law firm to represent you on your personal injury claim against Amtrak, make sure that the law firm you are hiring has experience handling train derailment cases and has successfully obtained jury verdicts against Amtrak.

To speak with an experienced Amtrak train accident attorney, call our Great Falls law firm at (406) 233-1302 for a free consultation. We are committed to providing you with the compassionate counsel you deserve.