The cause of a crash between two Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway locomotives near the Mississippi border on the afternoon of December 28, 2017, remains unclear. What is known is that all four crew members aboard both engines suffered serious injuries in the collision in Pickens County, AL.
County sheriff’s office and emergency management personal received the call about the train accident at around 4:30 pm. They responded to an area where two sets of tracks run in parallel just east of the intersection between Wrights Drive and Lock and Dam Road in the town of Pickensville.
Three of the railroad workers needed to be flown from the scene for treatment of broken bones and severe internal injuries. A fourth employee was taken to a local hospital. News reports do not provide details on the injured workers’ prospects for making full recoveries.
An official with Alabama & Gulf Coast has pledged to work with local and state law enforcement officials, as well as state transportation and occupational safety personnel, to discover the reason the train engines collided. My Virginia railroad injury lawyers and I welcome that commitment, but we would also want the National Transportation Safety Board involved. Train crashes can be difficult to analyze without extensive expertise and significant resources. Also, lessons learned from train crash investigation can often be shared with all freight and passenger rail companies, improving protections for workers and travelers around the country. Bringing in the NTSB would potentially yield more complete answers and increase the likelihood that key safety information gets disseminated widely.
For the Alabama & Gulf Coast workers hurt on the job, the engineers and conductors or trackmen likely have grounds for seeking compensation and damages under a law called the Federal Employers Liability Act. FELA, as the law is usually called, holds railroads strictly liable for any injuries or deaths that result from negligence such as putting two locomotives traveling in opposite directions on the same track. The actual negligent act can be one or a combination of things ranging from failing to maintain proper communications between crews and dispatchers to leaving track switches open and unchecked.
As FELA attorneys based in Virginia, my law firm colleagues and I know that railroads often look for any excuse to deny negligence and avoid covering medical bills. lost wages, and pain, suffering and disability. Since filing lawsuit is necessary to exercise workers’ rights under FELA when the rail company will not settle claims directly, all the rail employees injured in the crash in Pickens County could benefit from consulting with a lawyer who has experience helping individuals hurt in railroad accidents.