Train Derailment Near Joplin Kills Three, Injuries Dozens More

During what was a quiet Saturday afternoon on September 25, 2021 near Joplin, Montana, an Amtrak train traveling on railroad tracks owned and maintained by BNSF Railway derailed, tragically killing at least three of innocent passengers and resulting in injuries to dozens more. Residents from nearby communities assisted passengers before first responders arrived.

The National Transportation Safety Board was reporting at least 50 injuries. A 14 member team has been dispatched to investigate. Passengers report feeling “extreme turbulence” before realizing that Amtrak cars behind them had derailed. Eight of the ten cars came off the tracks in the derailment.

Amtrak Train Derailment
© Kimberly Fossen, AP In this photo provided by Kimberly Fossen people work at the scene of an Amtrak train derailment on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in north-central Montana.

Tragic derailment like this one leave a lot of questions for those affected by the derailment. In the coming days, weeks, and months one of the main questions will be why did this happen and who is responsible. The train derailment lawyers at Bolt Hoffer Boyd are experienced attorneys who practice in Minnesota, Montana, and nationally. We focus our practice on getting answers to those questions and holding railroads accountable.  If you have been involved in this derailment, please call us today at 763-406-7000, send our lead rail counsel Joe Sayler an email at, or fill out our Free Initial Consultation form at the top of this page for a free case evaluation. Contact us and we will discuss your options openly and honestly.

Why was Amtrak Operating on BNSF’s Tracks?

At this point, it is unclear whether unsafe rail or operation caused the derailment. Amtrak usually operates on tracks owned by freight railroads, which transport oil, gas, lumber, and other freight material across the country. Unlike in the Northeast corridor, the rails Amtrak trains travel on are used primarily by these freight trains. Although railroads are supposed to adequately maintain their tracks to ensure they are safe for operations, the fact remains that they are maintained primarily to transport freight and not passengers.

How Did This Happen and What Can Be Done Legally?

As a common carrier, Amtrak as a duty to ensure that its trains are traveling on safe tracks. It also has an obligation to ensure that its crew is operating the train in a manner that is reasonably safe for existing conditions. In the coming days, it should become more clear whether the train crew itself was operating the train consistent with federal regulations and standards. Deviation from these requirements often compromises public safety and leads to tragic derailments, like the one near Joplin.

Should I Hire an Experienced Lawyer?

If you or a loved one were involved in the tragic accident near Joplin, Montana, it is important that you contact experienced counsel right away. Railroads are subject to complex regulatory requirements and accidents involving railcars often involve technical terminology. Retaining counsel who are familiar with the intricacies of railroad derailments is important to ensure that your rights are fully protected and tragedies like this are prevented in the future.

Bolt Hoffer Boyd has a team of attorneys who have successfully handled Amtrak derailments and been able to provide these critical answers to the innocent passengers injured and for the families of those that have lost their lives. This includes previous and active cases in over 30 states, including Montana, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, and Illinois. If you or your family have been involved in this derailment, please call us today at 763-406-7000, send us an email at to speak immediately with our lead railroad derailment trial attorney, or fill out the form here for a free case evaluation. Contact us and we will discuss your options openly and honestly.