Crude Oil Railroad Accidents Reveal Problematic Safety Culture

As proof by the many recent railroad oil train accidents, the shipment of crude oil by railroad is running ahead of infrastructure and safety improvement needs.  Many in Virginia will never forget the day that a train derailed in downtown Lynchburg.  Last April, an oil-laden train derailed and spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the James River.  This comes at a time when two more serious derailments and fires involving trains carrying crude oil in the past week confirm that there is a serious problem with the safety culture on North American railroads.  The latest fiery derailments occurred in northern Illinois involving a train operated by BNSF and northern Ontario involving a train operated by Canadian National Railway.  These railroad derailments come just weeks after serious oil train fires in West Virginia involving a train operated by CSX and another Canadian National derailment in northern Ontario.

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Fortunately, these derailments occurred in sparsely populated areas, but it is only a matter of time before a train derails in a densely populated urban center and risks a mass casualty incident. The U.S. Department of Transportation predicts more than 200 crude and ethanol carrying trains will derail over the next 20 years, including ten in urban areas. 

As Virginia (VA) railroad injury lawyers we have a problem with this.  Railroad companies have been putting profits over the safety of their employees and the public for years and we have seen how the railroad industry has lobbied lawmakers to push safety deadlines farther and farther into the future. Since 2000, our personal injury law firm lawyers have obtained many record and multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts including those involving accidents and derailments, but please keep in mind every case is different and stands on its own merits and past results do not govern what may happen with any particular case.


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