Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Train accident highlights rail-related dangers following oil boom

With the relatively recent discovery of oil in North Dakota, more oil is finding its way to areas across the U.S. by rail more and more. What might be good for the economy and the oil industry, however, might prove to be not so good for soe train workers, not to mention the environment.

Reuters reports that a serious train accident occurred yesterday. A 90-car train carrying oil from up north somehow derailed and then exploded in Alabama. With the vast amount of oil in the train cars, the damage was severe, destroying various trains and potentially threatening waterways in the area.

Fortunately, no workers were killed or injured in the fiery accident, but that doesn't mean that the train wreck doesn't have worker safety implications.

Reuters emphasizes how the movement of oil by rail is becoming more popular, moving regulators to set stricter laws on the strength of cars carrying oil so that they won't easily puncture. Not all cars, however, fit into those safety limits, particularly the older ones. Even if they did, the risk of an accident and subsequent explosion is still very real.

Train operators and other workers in the field do have a certain right to safety and financial support if they do get injured in an accident. Common railroad injuries are back injuries, neck injuries and broken bones. In cases of explosion, the threat of burn injuries becomes all too real. A train crew member who suffered a railroad injury should discuss his case with a personal injury lawyer who understands the rights provided to railroad workers.

Source: Reuters, "Train carrying crude oil derails, cars ablaze in Alabama," Edward McAllister, Nov. 8, 2013

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