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2023 Ohio Train Derailment Lawsuit


What We Know About the Ohio Train Disaster 2023

On February 3rd, 2023, a 150-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. What may have been an unfortunate accident has since turned into a disaster due to the contents of the train’s cars. The train was pulling several cars filled with toxic chemicals, gasses, and other hazardous materials. This crash forced the residents of East Palestine to evacuate their homes, as Norfolk Southern had to vent or burn off these chemicals.

Residents are now understandably afraid of the environmental and individual health effects of the chemicals involved in the disaster. Air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, groundwater contamination, and human health effects are the most significant concerns for investigators. Because of the magnitude and seriousness of this crash, both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Environmental Protection Agency have both stepped in to investigate.

National Attorneys Handling Ohio Train Derailment Claims

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Train derailment cases are already delicate and complicated. When the presence of toxic chemicals are factored into the equation, train accident cases become even more delicate. Incidents such as the East Palestine train derailment require very specific litigation experience to handle. That’s what makes the team at Reich & Binstock well-suited for the job. Not only do we have extensive experience handling train derailments, but we also have experience in toxic exposure and pollution lawsuits.

Our train accident lawyers are currently investigating claims related to the Norfolk Southern train crash. If you have been affected by the Ohio train disaster, you may be eligible for compensation. The skilled train accident lawyers at Reich & Binstock are here to investigate the details of your claim and advise you on how to proceed. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.

What Is the 2023 Ohio Train Derailment Disaster?

At approximately 9pm on February 3rd, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train with 150 total cars derailed in the village of East Palestine, Ohio. Fifty of those cars ran off the tracks during the crash. Of the 150 total cars, 20 of those cars carried toxic chemicals, such as vinyl chloride.

How Did the Ohio Train Derailment Happen?

So, what causes a train to derail as this one did? According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the train accident resulted from a mechanical failure. Additionally, the train was not equipped with electronically-controlled pneumatic brakes. These are modern brakes that have improved performance over standard railway air brakes.

Let’s explore the timeline of how Norfolk Southern played a role in reducing safety requirements for the rail industry.

  • In 2014, there was a spike in the number of train accidents and derailments that involved toxic chemicals and crude oil. As a response, President Obama’s administration outlined plans for improving the safety of trains carrying hazardous or combustible materials.
  • Rail industry lobbyists and executives pressured lawmakers to water down the proposed safety regulations. The final proposal ended up focusing more on trains carrying crude oil, and exempted other trains carrying different materials.
  • In 2017, rail industry lobbyists and donors continued to push for looser regulations. This eventually led to the requirement for better brakes to be rescinded. Provisions that required better brakes on train cars carrying hazardous materials were also stricken down.
  • Norfolk Southern once praised electronically-controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes, yet they still pushed for the repeal of the rule requiring them for trains carrying hazardous materials. A former official of the Federal Railroad Administration, Steven Ditmeyer, stated that ECP brakes would have “reduced the severity of this accident.”

Currently, the majority of trains in the United States are still equipped with a braking system that was developed in 1868. They are referred to as air brakes. Compared to ECP braking systems, air brakes make emergency stops much more slowly, and they result in more damage in the process.

Did the Ohio Train Derailment Hurt the Environment?

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Because of the severity of the accident, the nation is once more discussing the need for more modern brake safety regulations. Federal regulations, conflicts of interest, and concerns over working conditions have been at the forefront of these discussions. Additionally, East Palestine residents have expressed concern over the risks of exposure to chemicals on the derailed train.

There have been several reports of sick children, sick or dead animals, and dead fish in the area since the incident occurred. Hazardous materials released during the train accident have also entered storm drains, as well as nearby creeks and the Ohio River. Agents from the EPA also observed chemicals seeping into the soil.

Although it is still too early to predict what kind of harm has been caused to the surrounding environment and its residents, we are already beginning to see negative impacts.

Were There Toxic Chemicals on the Norfolk Train Derailment?

Yes. Because of this and the threat of further explosions, residents within a one-mile radius of the crash were evacuated. One of the most concerning substances involved is vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen. Vinyl chloride is a widely-used industrial chemical that can contaminate both the air and drinking water in an area. As an example, the Camp Lejeune water contamination incident also involved vinyl chloride.

What Chemicals Were Involved in the Accident?

Vinyl chloride is the main chemical of concern when it comes to this train accident. It has the ability to contaminate both the air and drinking water. Other chemicals involved in the incident include the following.

  • Butyl acrylate
  • Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether
  • Ethylhexyl acrylate
  • Isobutylene
  • Benzene
  • Other combustible materials

What Will Happen to East Palestine, Ohio Residents?

Residents of East Palestine still face uncertainty in the wake of the Ohio train accident. Approximately 2,000 East Palestine residents were evacuated from the area. As of February 8th, the Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, announced that residents were permitted to return home. Although no injuries or deaths have been reported, residents are still concerned about how safe the area really is.

The future is uncertain for East Palestine residents, but the law firm of Reich & Binstock is standing by to investigate claims. A train accident lawyer with our firm will evaluate your situation during a free consultation, then advise you on your next steps.

How Long Will the Cleanup Take?

Currently, the EPA has not announced when the area may be considered completely back to normal. It can be difficult to determine what amount of hazardous materials were spilled, as well as what those materials have contaminated. We will likely receive more information once the initial emergency has passed.

Is There a Class Action Lawsuit for the Norfolk Southern Train Derailment?

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Yes. As of February 14th, 2023, four class action lawsuits have been filed against Norfolk Southern. These lawsuits have been filed by both residents and businesses who were affected by the derailment disaster. One of the lawsuits in question asks Norfolk Southern to provide compensation for any medical screenings and medical care for residents within a 30-mile radius of the incident. The requested medical screenings aim to determine if there are any health effects potentially caused by the derailment.

What Compensation Can East Palestine Victims Seek?

Currently, East Palestine residents and businesses have filed four class action lawsuits against Norfolk Southern for the disaster. Many are seeking compensation for medical screenings and treatments.

Future lawsuits may be able to claim compensation for the following damages related to the incident.

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property contamination
  • Wrongful death
  • Other damages related to the incident

Do I Need an Attorney for My Case?

Although you are not required to work with a train accident lawyer for your case, it is extremely difficult to challenge railroad companies. The railroad company involved in the East Palestine crash, Norfolk Southern, will have teams of lawyers on their side. At Reich & Binstock, we have considerable experience litigating against big companies and industry leaders. The toxic fumes and hazardous chemicals spilled from the train have the potential to affect thousands.  The toxic torts attorneys with our firm are here to fight for the rights of those affected by this disaster.

Contact Reich & Binstock Today

If you were negatively affected by the Norfolk Southern train disaster, we strongly recommend seeking help from an attorney as soon as possible. Train derailments already require specific experience to handle. Derailments involving harmful chemicals require even more niche experience. Our attorneys have handled both toxic exposure cases and train accidents. We have what it takes to fight for your right to full and fair compensation. To schedule your free consultation with us, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.

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