Norfolk Southern’s 2018 Safety Train tour began in April and will make stops in 23 cities nationwide, the goal being hands-on education and training for first responders in these communities.
“Rail transport is responsible for moving some of the most hazardous materials produced,” said Charles E. Boyk, an Ohio Personal Injury Attorney with Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. “Providing training for first responders who may be exposed to these materials in the event of an accident will hopefully provide them with an extra layer of protection.”
Some of the recent train accidents have highlighted the dangers posed by rail transport of hazardous materials. The deadly explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec that wiped out much of the downtown area and killed 42 people was caused by an equipment failure. The train was loaded with crude oil, and the resulting pollution has taken years to clean up. For the first month following that accident, first responders had to work in 15-minute shifts due to the heat and pollution.
However, not all train accidents involve chemicals. Many times, these accidents involve vehicles or pedestrians being struck by trains. Typically, these are issues such as whether the rail crossing was properly marked, and whether signal equipment was operating properly. Additionally, claims can arise related to the speed of the train.
Individuals injured in train accidents may have claims for personal injury if it can be proven that the rail company was negligent. Additionally, if a person lost their life, their families or their estate may be able to file a claim for wrongful death.
However, it is important to remember that Ohio is a modified comparative negligence state. Comparative negligence allows fault for injuries to be apportioned between the properties, eliminating the “all-or-nothing” nature of contributory negligence that plaintiffs and defendants faced prior to its development.
Modified comparative negligence has a little bit of both contributory and comparative negligence in its process. Fault can be apportioned between the parties, but if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent responsible for his or her injuries, they may be barred from recovering anything.
The concept of modified comparative negligence is challenging but should not scare potential plaintiffs away. “If your case has merit and you have competent legal counsel, you have a very good chance of overcoming any comparative negligence defense” by the defendant, said Boyk.