Officials from BNSF Railroad have announced that they are taking steps to introduce safer oil tanker cars into their fleet. A series of major train accidents over the past few years have convinced industry executives that it is time to voluntarily increase safety measures.
This is one example of a time when regulators have been slow to act and the advocacy of individuals has been necessary to make meaningful safety changes. In many cases this type of advocacy can come through civil personal injury suits from victims who can seek damages and advocate to change policies and increase safety.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has still not finalized new regulations on improved tank cars, even though many lives have been lost in train accidents involving the unsafe tanker cars. There is still some uncertainty surrounding how long it will take to get the new cars in service and remove all of the older, less safe cars.
Workers who are injured from unsafe equipment or conditions at work have a right to seek compensation through the workers compensation system, regardless of whether their employer was negligent in creating those conditions or not. Workers compensation is designed to help employees who have been hurt to the point of accruing medical costs or being forced to take time off of work. In cases where a worker has been killed because of a worksite explosion or other catastrophic injury, their immediate family may have additional rights beyond the workers compensation system to seek compensation for their loss.
Source: The Big Story, “BNSF plans to upgrade tanker fleet after accidents,” Matthew Brown, AP, Feb. 20, 2014