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Spate of Train Derailments Injures Dozens

fire truckA rash of train derailments have been making national headlines, including a catastrophic accident in West Virginia that left oil fires burning for days. The train was carrying an estimated 3 million gallons of crude when it derailed near the sleepy town of Mount Carbon, WV. Nineteen tanker cars collided and caught fire, causing hundreds of local families to lose electricity and water, after the train leaked oil into a nearby river tributary. Most were evacuated, and no injuries were reported other than one resident who was treated for smoke inhalation.

“This accident is another reminder of the need to improve the safety of transporting hazardous materials by rail,” said the National Transportation Safety Board’s acting chairman, Christopher Hart.

Train derailments highlight need to instate for safety upgrades

Just a few days before the West Virginia train derailment, 29 cars of a Canadian National Railway train spilled crude and ignited about 50 miles from Timmons, Ontario. And less than two years ago, 47 people were killed by a train derailment and oil explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

The WV train that derailed was headed for an oil depot in Yorktown, Virginia, and was on the same tracks where just last year, tanker cars plummeted into the James River, also prompting an area evacuation. The three accidents had one common element: model 1232 tank cars, which were subject to costly safety upgrades about four years ago.

These accidents may spur The Obama Administration to mandate even more safety upgrades in trains carrying crude oil and other explosive materials. Special electronic brakes that help cars stop simultaneously, rollover protections, and thicker tanks are just some of the upgrades being considered.

Even more recently, a California commuter train headed for Los Angeles derailed after it slammed into a commercial pickup truck that had been abandoned on the tracks after getting stuck. In the fiery accident, three of the train’s cars fell over, leaving four passengers in critical condition and sending some 30 more to local hospitals.

This particular commuter train crossing has been the site of numerous accidents over the years, including a 2008 accident that killed 25 people and is known as the nation’s worst railroad disaster.  In later investigations, it was found that the train’s engineer had been texting at the time. The train blew through a red light before hitting a Union Pacific freight train head-on.

Train accident lawyers in Maine

The Maine accident lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing know the despair and frustration felt by victims of train and motor vehicle accidents. Survivors are often left with incapacitating injuries that require hospitalization and extensive time off of work. Our veteran legal team enlists the aid of accident reconstructionists and industry experts to help establish liability in the event that negligence or defective equipment was to blame, and we promise to fight for appropriate compensation so that victims can move on with their lives.

To arrange a free case evaluation with an experienced train accident lawyer in the Portland, Lewiston, Bangor or Southern Maine areas, we invite you to call 1-800-INJURED.

  1. CentralMaine.com, Pickup truck driver charged in collision with California commuter train http://www.centralmaine.com/2015/02/24/passenger-train-strikes-truck-derails-in-southern-california/
  2. CentralMaine.com, Fire rages on after West Virginia oil train derailment http://www.centralmaine.com/2015/02/17/west-virginia-oil-train-derailment-fires-for-hours-smoke/