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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
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Railroad Accidents Capture The Public Attention After Tragic Washington D.C. Wreck

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Trains fascinate all of us _ particularly little boys _ from an early age. The sounds of the train whistle in the distance is also part of the lore of the American country-side. But the romantic images of trains and train travel also conjure up images of train wrecks and when a train crashes it is always a disaster.

Books memorialize these railroad disasters – some in pictures:

Train Wrecks: A Pictorial History of Accidents on the Main Line -By Robert Carroll Reed

Others recount the tragic incidents with a view toward safety:

Death Rode the Rails: American Railroad Accidents and Safety, 1828–1965 - By Mark Aldrich

Currently the news about the Washington D.C. Metrolink crash is continuing to come in. For people who were injured they e leery of any attorneys soliciting cases. I live in Honolulu and so i am not interested in these cases so maybe I can say this more easily than if I lived in the D.C. areas. It is illegal to approach a victim of this crash, or their family if you are an attorney or represent the interests of an attorney. If you are solicited, report the attorney to the appropriate disciplinary office with the Court in your area.

The cause of the crash is not yet understood according to news reports on Tuesday:

Authorities are focusing on anti-collision sensors in the rear train, signal failure and operator error as possible causes of the crash.

The rear train was equipped with sensors which were supposed to stop the train if another train was detected within close proximity, but investigators are not sure why the system did not engage. They are also not sure why the driver, Jeanice McMillan, 42, didn’t stop the train manually when she saw the stopped train ahead of her.

Railroad crossingThe investigation is complicated by the fact that the rear train was not equipped with data recorders, which will make it more difficult to piece together what happened. It was an older model 1000 series train that the NTSB had recommended be replaced or retrofitted in 2004 and 2006. However, no action was taken to that end, and now some are wondering if the collision could have been avoided if the train had been a newer model.

I also have recently found the articles written by Steve Lombardi of the Lombardi Law Firm in Des Moines, IA to be particularly insightful:

DC Metro Train Accident begs the question, are Washington’s distractions leading us astray

Attorneys like Rick Shapiro and Steve Lombardi are not pounding their chests to get cases. They want to help promote safety through public education about the causes of these disasters. Like the attorneys of the past, they care about their communities and they exemplify the concept of doing well by doing good. You can bet that their heads are hung low in memory of the victims of Monday’s crash on the Red Line in Washington D.C. Why did it happen? What can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Another article worth reading is from Brooks Schuelke of Texas:

Washington, DC Train/Rail Disaster Kills At Least Seven & Injures More. What Does It Mean For Austin?

John Cooper’s recent post is also informative:

Washington, DC Metro Train Ride Turns Into Terrible Wreck – By John Cooper

The Metrolink train wreck on Monday brought railroad injuries to mind all the way out here in Honolulu. We don’t have trains now although a proposed fixed rail mass transit system has filled the local TV stations and the Honolulu Advertiser with controversy for the past few years.

Lawyers have been involved in the history of train wrecks and the injury and death that follow. I have followed the writings of Rick Shapiro of Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm in Virginia and the Washington D.C. that trace the history and development of the law and engineering in the area of railroad crashes. Their firm was actually formed in part with the purpose of promoting safety and dealing with the injured and deceased victims of train wrecks.