Train Derailment Blamed on Faulty Track Instead of Negligent Shipper

By Peter DePaolis

Many of our nation’s industries rely on trains to get raw materials from one end of the country to the other. The United States is second only to China in the amount of raw materials shipped by freight train every year.

For the billion-dollar shipping companies who rely on trains to ship their bulk materials, it is of utmost importance to keep trains and tracks in perfect working order. Trains roll through densely populated areas, and a minor mishap can quickly escalate into a major disaster.

In 2012, a CSX train derailed in Ellicott City due to a damaged section of track. Called “rolling contact fatigue,” the rails had been gradually worn down by all the trains using the track over the years.

CSX had been monitoring the damage every thirty days, planning a major repair at some point in the future. Before any maintenance could be undertaken, however, 21 cars of an 80-car coal train jumped the track and killed two 19-year-old college students. Sitting on a railroad bridge when the catastrophe occurred, the women were buried in coal and crushed.

This could have been prevented if CSX had been more proactive about fixing the tracks instead of simply “inspecting” them once a month. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the shipper had been doing “significantly more than what was required” in terms of safety. Since the tragedy, however, CSX has done nothing besides installing a fence to keep people off the bridge.

Below, William Lightfoot reports from the AAJ, energized about fighting corporate abuse of power:

My Loved One Was Injured Due to a Train Company’s Negligence

The NTSB report is incredibly shallow in its criticism. Letting freight companies off the hook does nothing to help the families of the unfortunate victims. The NTSB should push for repairs to prevent future disasters. Blaming a track problem for the negligence of a shipping company utterly fails to promote actual railroad safety.

If you or someone you love has suffered any injuries stemming from a train accident, please contact a Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P. to learn how you can obtain compensation for your suffering.

Did You Know? The longest cargo train in US history ran from Texas to LA in 2010. At 3.5 miles long, the train had 296 cars and carried 618 containers.

Sponsored by William P. Lightfoot.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Injury Attorneys


About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.