What is the Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act of 2008?
The Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act of 2008 is a federal law that provides guidelines for handling a fatal disaster involving a rail passenger train. This law provides federal guidance and creates a plan for assisting family members of those involved in the accident.
When is the Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act applicable?The Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act of 2008 (RPDFAA) goes into effect as soon as authorities notify the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of a rail passenger accident in the United States. The RPDFAA only handles accidents that result in a major loss of life.
What happens when the NTSB puts RPDFAA into action?Once authorities notify the NTSB, the Chairman of the Board designates a board member to act as the point of contact for both the federal government and families of the passengers involved in the accident. The Chairman also designates a nonprofit organization independent from the federal government that has experience with disaster relief.
This organization coordinates emotional care and support for families affected by the disaster.
What services does the Act provide for families of injured or deceased passengers?The services to the families lie mainly with the designated nonprofit organization. The nonprofit will provide: mental health and counseling services; a private environment to allow family members to grieve; support for families who travel to the disaster scene; information to families unable to travel; communications to all families regarding support services; and arrangements for a suitable memorial service.
How does the Act help with recovery from the rail passenger disaster?The RPDFAA coordinates efforts between the designated organization, federal and local officials, and the rail passenger carrier. One of the first actions the NTSB Board takes is obtaining the passenger manifest from the rail passenger carrier and coordinating the recovery and identification of deceased passengers. Once first responders recover and identify the deceased passengers, the Board reports the information to the designated organization, which in turn assists the applicable families.
Additionally, the Board coordinates all public briefings with respect to sensitivity to the situation. Prior to any public briefings from any entity, officials must brief the families and allow them to attend any public hearings or meetings the Board holds regarding the disaster.
What do I have to do to get benefits from the Act if my loved one was in a rail passenger disaster?The FPDFAA goes into action automatically as soon as officials determine there is a major loss of life. If you know your loved one was on a train involved in a disaster, if you have not already received a call from the designated organization, you should call the rail carrier to learn about the situation.