Train Derailments in Tennessee

The horrible train derailment in  Quebec, Canada  resulted in the deaths of as many as fifty people and  untold property damage.

The Canadian authorities are still investigating the cause of the incident, but several things seem to stand out.  First, the 72-car  train was parked and unattended at the time the incident began to occur.  Apparently, there was only a one-person crew assigned to the train.  A supervisor for the railway has accused the employee assigned to the train as failing to set a sufficient number of hand brakes to hold the train in place after the employee left the site and went to a local hotel to sleep.

The parent company of the owner of the train that derailed and set off a series of explosions is Rail World Inc.   The actual owner of the train is  Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA).  MMA, which is headquartered in Chicago, has a long history of accidents in Canada, according to Transportation Safety Board data, which shows 129 accidents, including 77 derailments — some of them minor — since 2003.

There is also an issue about whether the crude oil tank cars were designed and built to withstand this type of foreseeable event.

See a video of a portion of the Quebec train explosion by clicking on the link.

This horrible incident reminds us that train derailments not only put the train operators, the train and its cargo at risk but also puts the lives and property of those within the area impacted by derailment at risk.  Trains carry a myriad of highly toxic chemicals, and those chemicals can have a long impact on the people living near the derailment and the entire eco-system in the area.  

Tennessee law allows those who suffer personal injury or property damage to seek compensation after a train derailment.  Who bears liability for a derailment is dependent on the factors giving rise to the incident, some of which will not be known for weeks and weeks after an incident.  Nevertheless, it is important to seek counsel as soon as possible so that an investigation can be initiated and important evidence can be preserved.

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