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Los Angeles County Superior Court is being asked to consider a settlement of $200 million over the 2008 head on Metrolink and Connex train collision. The accident killed 25 people and injured more than 100. Under federal law, $200 million is the maximum level of financial liability. Investigators concluded that the commuter train's engineer was likely sending text messages when he went through a red light and hit a Union Pacific freight train head on in San Fernando Valley.
"The rationale is this is the maximum that could be recovered in any event and will expeditiously get the maximum compensation to the victims and their families," said Keith Millhouse, board chairman of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, The Associated Press reports.
Paul R. Kiesel, the "coordinating counsel" for all the train collision lawsuits, said that the benefit of the settlement is that victims and families will receive their compensation quickly and without years of court battles. However, Kiesel said that the settlement comes with a price.
"It is unfortunate that because of the scope of the harm here, the actual recoveries will be far less than the losses they've truly suffered," Kiesel said. Connex said in a statement that the proposed fund will "provide financial recovery to victims of the accident in the full amount available to passengers of a commuter rail accident in the U.S., and to do so years ahead of when financial recovery for victims would otherwise likely be realized," The Associated Press reports.
In the end, if the court approves the settlement, the next phase will be to determine the amount that each claimant will receive. The court would also handle that process, which will vary depending on the circumstances of each claim. Factors involved in making such a determination include the scope of the injuries, pain and suffering and lost earning potential.