Railroad Injuries: Devastating Train Crash in Quebec

Railroad Injuries Update:

Those impacted by a massive train crash this past weekend in Quebec are still looking for answers after a train loaded with crude oil derailed in the small town of Leg-Megantic. Reuters and other news organizations are reporting that the incident is the worst railroad accident in North America in 20 years, with at least 20 people dead and dozens more still missing.

While the exact events that caused the accident are still not known, investigators now believe that the train was left unattended with its engine running overnight in the Town of Nantes. At some point a fire broke out onboard, causing the firefighters responding to the fire to shut down the engine. Without the pressure provided by the engine, it is believed that the brakes holding the train in place gradually gave way. The train then barreled downhill into the town of Leg-Megantic and derailed, bursting into a fiery inferno fueled by the train's 72 tanker cars of oil.

As with any large scale disaster, investigators are now attempting to determine who is responsible. Parties that may be alleged to be at least partially liable include the train's American operating company, the Town of Nantes, the supplier of the oil, the train's engineer, and the Canadian government. Because the accident took place in Canada, but involved an American operator, the forum nation chosen for any potential legal action will likely be a highly contentious issue. In general, damages awarded in the United States are much higher than those in Canada.

To read more about the accident: Visit http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/11/us-train-liability-idUSBRE96A04L20130711

Americans injured in accidents abroad caused by US-based companies, such as Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (the train company involved in this accident) the may pursue lawsuits in this country depending on the specific factual circumstances of the case. However, a Court hearing such a claim will likely have to decide whether to apply US or Canadian law. Again, the courts analysis will depend on a number of factors that are fact-specific to the case.


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