In March, a freight train carrying crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Chicago area derailed in western Minnesota, causing three tankers to rupture and leak up to 30,000 gallons of fuel. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported that the cold weather had made the oil thicker, making recovery of the oil more difficult. But the frozen conditions also prevented the oil from penetrating ground water or surface water.

Train derailments can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Poor track maintenance
  • Manufacturing defects in the rails
  • Misaligned tracks
  • Improperly loaded or poorly organized trains
  • Brake failure
  • Generally poor train handling
  • Train operator fatigue or inattention
  • Collision with a vehicle or another train

If you have suffered property damage due to a train derailment, you may be able to claim compensation from the railroad company. Railroad companies are obligated to comply with strict federal safety laws and regulations, such as the Federal Railroad Safety Act. These rules determine, for example, how many hours a train operator may work in a single stretch, but railroad companies frequently fail to comply with their obligations. If there is evidence of negligence, or willful non-compliance on the part of the railroad company, you may be able to recover damages.

It is crucial that the crash scene is investigated effectively and swiftly to identify witnesses and preserve evidence. If you have been affected by a train derailment, you should get in touch with an experienced Minnesota railroad law attorney as soon as possible.