CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Train Derailment Occurs Outside of Roseville

Five Railroad Cars Derailed in Roseville

Five railroad cars carrying butane and lumber derailed outside the Roseville city limits on December 6. The accident occurred at the J.R. Davis Railyard that sits between Roseville and Antelope. According to Union Pacific, two of the derailed cars were upright while the other three were on their side. The Sacramento Metro Fire District reported that three were hauling butane, and the remainder carried lumber. The butane did not leak, according to authorities, and they said offices and homes were not in danger. The accident happened at about 12:15 in the afternoon. Union Pacific said all cars will be inspected for safety as they are placed in an upright position and moved. No injuries were reported.

Dangers When Railroad Cars Derail

Derailed train cars are common in this country. There were 61 derailments overall last year. Amtrak alone has about 31 derailments annually. Such train accidents result in infrastructure damage, interfere with service, and can cause injuries to humans and harm to the environment. When train cars carry flammable substances as noted in the accident above, the risk of catastrophic injuries is higher. The injury rate is influenced by the maintenance and structure of the train cars and adequate response after the accident. 

Reasons for Train Derailment

There are two major reasons that trains derail: track conditions (50 percent) and human error (28 percent). The remainder is usually due to different types of mechanical failure. Broken rails are the major issue resulting in train derailments. However, over the last several decades, track inspections have improved. Several successful ways to monitor tracks are:

  • Visual inspection
  • Annual ultrasound tests of tracks 
  • Use of a gauge restraint measurement system

Human Errors Involved in Derailed Train Cars

Several of the most common errors made are:

  • Improper train operation
  • Improper signals
  • Speeding
  • Improper braking
  • Using switches improperly
  • Wheel problems
  • Collisions with an object
  • Deliberate derailments to avoid a more serious accident

Broken Rails

A rail is considered broken if there is a large gap or if a piece has been lodged in an improper location or fallen out. Cracking around the bolt holes of fishplates that hold jointed track rails together can be due to weathering and should be picked up during track maintenance. Fishplates may pull apart due to cold weather. Hydrogen inclusion during the manufacturing process can also lead to cracking subsequent to loading fatigue. Wheelspin can cause metal cracking and derailment. 

Improper Operation

Braking suddenly causes many derailments. This is due to the type of braking mechanism used today. This is especially true on curves. 

Speeding

When entering a curve, the engineer must slow the train’s speed to accommodate the lateral forces the train experiences. If the speed is too high, the engineer will be unable to negotiate the curve properly, and a derailment takes place. If the speed is high enough, derailment is usually followed by overturning. 

How an Attorney Can Help

Many derailments are accompanied by injuries to passengers and to homes and businesses near the accident. Depending on the cargo, some injuries and environmental disturbances can be substantial. With this in mind, we dispatch our investigative team to the accident site. Our investigators look for reasons the accident happened by speaking with railroad owners and workers who were involved in the derailment. They also review reports by the Federal Railroad Administration that monitors railroad safety. We check to see if manufacturing defects were involved, and set the stage for a lawsuit against the manufacturer. Visual inspection of the area, including track breaks or cracking, helps in building a strong body of evidence as does reviewing maintenance logs. The train engineer’s record is also checked to see if there has been improper operation in the past by the individual. Once all the information is amassed, our legal team uses it to structure a strong case for our client.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney. If you were involved in a train derailment, call me at (916) 921-6400 or at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach out to me online.

I’ve helped clients in the Sacramento area in all types of motor vehicle accidents, traumatic events, and wrongful deaths for over 37 years.

I am a member of the following organizations:

Learn more about my practice at:

Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/photos/rails-soft-gleise-railway-3309912/

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