Chicago-Area Train Derailments Prompt Concern

Chicago-Area Train Derailments Prompt Concern | Pintas & Mullins Law Firm

Two trains recently derailed in the Chicagoland area within one week of each other causing concern among commuters and residents alike. The team of train accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on these two derailments and the potential legal recourse for those injured in train incidents.

The first derailment occurred on March 5, 2015, near the suburb of Galena. The freight train was carrying crude oil and derailed in the afternoon, immediately bursting into flames that burned into the night. Authorities asked everyone within a one-mile radius of the derailment to evacuate. Only one family agreed to evacuate, however.

The train was running along the BNSF Railway, carrying 103 cars of oil. Fortunately, no injuries were immediately reported. The cause of the derailment is still unknown as the investigation continues. Firefighters were only able to access the crash by a bike path and were unable to stop the fire, letting the blaze burn itself out.

This crash is the latest in a long history of crude oil train derailments that have devastated communities and taken innumerable lives. These accidents are not uncommon and can be disastrous: in 2013, a crude oil train crashed in Quebec, Canada, killing nearly 50 people and causing extensive harm to the surrounding community.

The public is starting to express concern about the safety of crude oil transported by train. According to a report in theChicago Sun-Times, 9,500 train carloads of oil were transported in 2008. By 2014 that number jumped to 500,000, driven by the recent oil booms in North Dakota and Montana. In these states, pipeline limitations force the vast majority of crude oil to be transported by train.

President Obama is considering requiring trains to be updated to include thicker tanks, rollover protections, shields, and newer electronic brakes.

Commuter Train Derailments Also a Threat

Every other week, it seems, a serious incident occurs involving a Metra train. On March 9, 2015 around 3 PM, a Metra train derailed in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, though the incident crippled service on the North Central and Milwaukee District lines.

The derailment seemed to have been caused by faulty switches and rails although no specific cause has yet been named. We have written extensively on the frequency and danger of Metra train derailments. Many factors contribute to these types of accidents, including defective trains, improperly maintained parts, negligent conductors, high speeds, and a myriad of other conditions.

Chicago is a major American railway hub, leaving the city and its residents vulnerable to many different types of injuries and accidents. Railways also employ thousands of Illinois residents, who, if injured on the job, may have legal options under FELA laws.

FELA (or the Federal Employers’ Liability Act) was enacted in 1908 to protect railway workers from job-related injuries. Filing a FELA claim can be extremely complex, which is why it’s so important to consult an experienced injury attorney. The railway industry is large and powerful with large masses of money at their disposal to fight lawsuits. Only a skilled attorney with years of workers’ compensation and railway accident experience should be trusted to deal with a FELA claim. 

Our team of railroad injury lawyers has more than 30 years of experience working on these types of cases. We accept cases involving: commuter trains, derailments, crossing accidents, CTA trains, FELA claims, and whistleblower claims. Illinois is consistently ranked as one of the deadliest states in the country for crossing accidents. These can include pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, or anyone else hurt while crossing train tracks.

If you or someone you love was seriously hurt in a train accident, contact our firm immediately. Our legal consultations are always free and we accept clients from all 50 states. We work exclusively on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not charge by the hour and our clients never pay anything unless we win a settlement or verdict.