The U.S. has seen a disturbing number of industrial railroad accidents on its expansive rail system during the past several years, due in large part to an energy boom in western states and the need to distribute oil. While the economy and unemployment rates have improved as a result, increased strain on the rails has is not without casualties. This unfortunately pertains to loss of life and injuries, as well as massive property damage that can take months to clean up. Accidents on the rails are not limited to oil and ethanol tankers either, as cars carrying toxic cargo also pose serious dangers.

Put it on their tab?

While immediate death, destruction, and injuries dominate train accident reports, many don’t realize the lasting economic impact such crashes can have. Take, for example, a recent crash in New Jersey involving a derailed train carrying vinyl chloride, a volatile chemical compound used to manufacture plastics such as PVC. The train fell off a bridge into Mantua Creek, causing 100,000 pounds of the noxious chemicals to spill into the water and air. Seventy nearby residents and train workers were treated for conditions such as vinyl chloride inhalation, which can cause cancer and liver damage.

Clean-up and medical treatment are by no means where the damage stops, however, as evidenced by the recent lawsuit filed by Paulsboro residents and business owners who claim there is no end in sight for the economic fallout from the accident. While property values have nosedived since the accident, making it all but impossible for them to sell their homes, several merchants are actually closing their doors for good due to dips in business. The local food markets, gas station, liquor mart, and convenience store have all joined the suit for economic damages since the crash crippled their business close to a year ago.

No lessons learned?

Shockingly, another train derailment occurred less than a mile from the Paulsboro disaster. This crash raises serious questions about whether the railroads have taken any significant steps in the aftermath of last year’s watery wreck. The impact this second crash may have on the Paulsboro suit remains to be seen.

When train accidents cause injuries or serious property damage, get a tough knowledgeable train lawyer on your side.