SUMMARY AS OF:
2/14/2001--Passed House without amendment. (There is 1 other summary)
Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act of 2001 - Amends Federal transportation law to require the Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, as soon as practicable after being notified of a rail passenger accident involving a major loss of life, to: (1) designate and publicize the name and phone number of a Board employee who shall be a director of family support services responsible for acting as a point of contact within the Federal Government for the families of passengers involved in a rail passenger accident, and a liaison between the rail passenger carrier and the families; and (2) designate an independent nonprofit organization (with experience in disasters and post-trauma communication with families) which shall have primary responsibility for coordinating the emotional care and support of the families of passengers involved in such accidents.Declares it shall be the responsibility of the director of family support services to request, as soon as practicable, from the rail passenger carrier involved in an accident a list of the names of the passengers who were aboard the carrier's train. Authorizes a designated organization also to request such list from such carrier. Prohibits the director of family support services and a designated organization from releasing list information to any person, except that information about a passenger may be provided to the passenger's family to the extent considered appropriate by the director or organization. Requires the Board, in the course of its investigation of an accident, to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that the families of passengers involved in the accident are: (1) briefed, prior to any public briefing about the accident and any other findings from the investigation; and (2) individually informed of and allowed to attend any public hearings and meetings of the Board about such accident.Prohibits: (1) a person (including a State or political subdivision) from impeding the ability of the Board (including the director of family support services) or the designated organization to carry out its responsibilities under this Act, or the ability of the families of passengers involved in an accident to have contact with one another; (2) unsolicited communication concerning a potential action for personal injury or wrongful death to be made by an attorney or any potential party to the litigation to an individual (other than an employee of the rail passenger carrier) injured in an accident, or to a relative of an individual involved in such accident, before the 45th day following the date of the accident; and (3) a State or political subdivision from preventing the employees, agents, or volunteers of an organization from providing mental health and counseling services in the 30-day period beginning on the date of an accident.Directs each rail passenger carrier to submit to the Secretary of Transportation and the Chairman of the Board a plan for addressing the needs of the families of passengers involved in a rail passenger accident resulting in a major loss of life. Shields a rail passenger carrier from liability for damages (except for gross negligence or intentional misconduct) in any action brought in a Federal or State court arising out of the carrier's performance in preparing or providing a passenger list, or in providing information concerning a train reservation, pursuant to the carrier's plan.