Articles Posted in Train Accidents

Jerome Moroux of the law firm Broussard & David, LLC recently obtained a jury verdict of over $1.4 Million on behalf of a railroad worker who sustained significant injuries when an unsecured steel rail fell onto him.

Plaintiff was a truck driver on the railroad.  As the truck driver, plaintiff was responsible for securing each steel rail individually as it was loaded on to the truck from the rail yard; however, on the day of the accident, plaintiff and the foreman loaded several rails without tying them down, intending to secure them all at once. Discovery indicated that the foreman was lax about safety oversight and that his crews routinely did not secure rails in the manner the railroad required.

While plaintiff’s foreman was operating the crane, the boom struck an unsecured rail, causing the rail to fall from the truck. The rail grazed plaintiff’s back, causing plaintiff to fall and strike his head. Plaintiff suffered a fractured ankle, a deep bruise/hematoma in his lower back, and a concussion. Over the course of two years, plaintiff underwent surgical repair of his ankle, as well as extensive treatment for his seroma/wound care in his lower back.  Additionally, plaintiff underwent a two level ACDF and treatment for post-concussive syndrome and anxiety and depression.  Plaintiff’s treating physicians testified that he would be restricted to light duty and more likely than not would need a back surgery sometime in the future.  A vocational rehabilitation counselor testified that plaintiff would not be able to return to work on the railroad.

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The first annual Bicycle Safety Festival will be held on June 4th from 9am-12pm at Parc Sans Souci in downtown Lafayette. The Bicycle Safety Festival is presented by Lafayette Consolidated Government, Bike Lafayette, and Broussard & David, LLC. There will be free adult and youth bicycle helmets for the first 300 participants, free bike registration, free safety training and instruction, and participants are eligible to win a free bicycle (valued at $300 – courtesy of Hub City Cycles). Additionally, there will be food, refreshments and musical entertainment by Zydeco Radio.

In Acadiana, there have been far too many cyclists injured in preventable bicycle accidents. The aim of this event is to help cyclists and motorists become more knowledgeable about bicycle safety and the rules of the road. As Lafayette Consolidated Government embraces more bicycle lanes and smarter growth, bicycle awareness is becoming even more essential.

Broussard & David, LLC, a law firm located in downtown Lafayette, has a great deal of experience in representing people catastrophically injured in bicycle related accidents. In sponsoring this event, the partners at Broussard & David, LLC hope that — through education and training — the roads will be safer for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike.

A Macy’s Department Store in Metairie recently became the subject of a premises liability action filed by a customer who reportedly slipped on a rug while shopping in the store.

The plaintiff reported that, in early December of 2013, she tripped and fell on a rug that was placed on the floor. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff claims that she injured her knee in the process. Attorneys for the plaintiff claim that the placement of the rug “created and represented an unreasonable risk of harm,” as well as demonstrating the merchant’s failure to properly inspect the premises and maintain a reasonably safe condition. The plaintiff seeks over $50,000 in compensatory damages.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit falls under the recognized theory of liability known “premises liability.” Premises liability against merchants is recognized in Louisiana and governed by Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:2800.6. This statute provides: “A merchant owes a duty to persons who use his premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles, passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which reasonably my give rise to damage.”

Operating in violation of both the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), ATP Infrastructure Partners LP (ATP-IP) has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle a federal lawsuit over illegal discharges of oil and chemicals from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The lawsuit, instituted by the United States, was resolved by way of joint judicial enforcement action involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the Justice Department.

In its complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the United States alleged that ATP-IP “violated Section 311(b)(3) of the CWA when oil and other pollutants were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from the ATP Innovator.” Violation of this provision in the CWA opened up ATP-IP to possible civil penalties. The United States also urged that ATP-IP was liable for injunctive relief under OCSLA, “as the owner of the ATP Innovator … [for] hidden piping configuration [that] was being used to inject a chemical dispersant into the facility’s wastewater discharge outfall pipe to mask excess amounts of oil being discharged into the ocean.”

Reduction of traffic accidents—particularly fatal traffic accidents—has long been at the center of public debate and the ambition of state and federal policymakers. The 1960s proved a watershed decade for transformation of traffic safety. With traffic fatalities on the rise in the 1960s, spiking at 49,000 traffic fatalities in 1965, public concern over traffic safety began to dominate the national discussion. Culminating with the 1965 publication of Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed”—a book that issued scathing criticisms of vehicle manufacturers for their willfully rejecting the addition of safety features into their automobiles—policymakers reacted. By calling on states to erect highway safety measures, the Highway Safety Act passed by Congress in 1966 was the first of many concentrated efforts to reduce this increasing problem. One important feature of this legislation was that it created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, which primarily operates as a safety administrator, promulgating rules designed to increase safety on highways, but also to increase safety of the vehicles themselves by imposing regulations on manufacturers.

With the bulk of this debate happening from the 1960s forward, traffic safety has long been on the minds of citizens and policymakers. Improving safety based on readily observable causes—prohibiting intoxicated driving, reducing speed limits, requiring operating traffic signals, etc.—is one thing, but as a recent study reveals, sometimes the causal or correlative connection between a phenomenon and traffic safety is more mysterious.

A recent study by University of Colorado-Boulder PhD candidate Austin Smith revealed a curious correlation between daylight savings time and increased traffic fatalities. This study reviewed data on fatal vehicle accidents from 2002 to 2011 and compared the number of fatal accidents that occur just before and after daylight savings time changes took effect.

LAFAYETTE – Broussard and David Law Firm held a grand opening ceremony on Wednesday, October 15th, in honor of their recent move to a new location. Their new offices are located in the heart of downtown Lafayette on the corner of Jefferson Street and Vermilion Street in the historic Moss Building (557 Jefferson Street).

A crowd gathered to help Fr. Hampton Davis bless the new building. A ribbon cutting ceremony and reception followed in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event. Guests were able to tour the newly renovated building and learn about the history of its presence in downtown Lafayette.

For the last 200 years, the site of the historic “Moss Building” was the epicenter of local activity in a growing Lafayette. Today, the Moss Building plays an important role, once again, as downtown Lafayette enjoys a renewed vitality. Blake David, partner at the law firm, says that “Broussard and David was eager to invest in an opportunity to restore one of Lafayette’s landmarks and is committed to enhancing the downtown community so that it is a great place to live, work and play.”

Picture this unlikely scenario: An intoxicated motorist is driving his vehicle at speeds well in excess of the speed limit (let’s say, he’s traveling at 100 mph in a 35 mph zone). As the unsafe motorist approaches a downtown intersection, a jay-walking pedestrian begins to cross the street when it is clearly not her turn (the brilliant-orange “don’t walk” hand is flashing and unmistakable). She has her face buried in the daily newspaper and is wearing headphones, unaware of what’s happening around her. What happens next, as you might have expected, is that the speeding, drunken motorist collides with the inattentive pedestrian, causing her significant injuries and tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills.

This hypothetical accident was intended to illustrate the legal problem of the “foolhardy” plaintiff–the individual who suffers an injury at the hands of another, though her inattentive, negligent behavior also has contributed to the damage. In layman’s terms, both the motorist and the pedestrian are at fault here. The driver should understand that operating a vehicle at high rates of speed while intoxicated is unsafe and endangers the public. Similarly, the pedestrian should know that she must obey traffic signals and should pay attention to her surroundings as she crosses the street. Thus, both the motorist and the pedestrian have a “duty” to act as a reasonably responsible driver and pedestrian respectively. Under this scenario, however, where both actors to this dramatic collision have breached their duties to act reasonably, causing this accident, who is responsible? Is the pedestrian permitted to recover damages (money) despite having negligently contributed to this accident and her resulting injuries?

Prior to 1980, Louisiana followed the traditional common-law approach to solving the issue of the “foolhardy plaintiff”–a plaintiff whose negligence contributed to his injury. This common-law approach was known as contributory negligence and operated as a total bar to recovery in a negligence action. While it sounds unduly restrictive of a plaintiffs’ ability to bring and maintain actions for injuries they suffered, this comparative negligence regime required more than just showing that the plaintiff contributed in some way to the injury–instead, the plaintiff had to be legally negligent. They must have had a standard of care (a duty), which, when breached, caused and contributed to their injury and was within the scope of foreseeable risk.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating a recent derailment outside New York City. Of particular interest to the Board is if the rail was broken before or during the accident causing injuries to many.

Seventy-two people were hospitalized when the train left the rail and hit another train. The damage is extensive and will delay travel and commuting for the foreseeable future while debris is cleared and an investigation takes place.

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With reports of four train accidents in two months, the holiday season exposed the dangers and risks of rail travel. In Texas, a freight train tragically crashed into a Veterans Day parade, killing four veterans and injuring 16. A week later, another commercial train derailed in New Jersey when a rail bridge collapsed. Two Amtrak passenger trains also collided with idle vehicles on the tracks in Florida and Michigan.

These four accidents shed light on the issue of railroad safety in the United States. Railroad accidents continue to occur despite stringent federal and state regulations, which require railroad companies to exercise a high duty of care. As the National Transportation Safety Board continues to search for answers in these train accidents, it will be interesting to see if changes will be made to improve rail safety in the future.

In addition to federal and state regulations, most states have laws in place that designate trains as “common carriers,” and an injured rail passenger may have legal recourse under a “common carrier” theory of liability. These laws impose a more stringent duty of safety on railroads. Typically, a common carrier is legally responsible for any damage or loss to passengers, property or goods that are within its possession.

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A 7 year old Gonzales girl was killed when hit by a train earlier this week. The girl was walking home with her older sisters when the accident occurred. She was taken from the scene to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Trains can provide a fast and affordable alternative to travel, but also can tragically cause serious injury or death. Extreme weather, mechanical error, failure to maintain the train or track, and distracted train operators are common contributors to train accidents. The attorneys at Broussard & David know how devastating a train accident a train accident can be and the stresses it can put on a family.

A train operator must exercise a high degree of care in transporting passengers, property or goods. If he fails to do so, the train company may be held legally responsible for any injury or damage caused by his negligence. An experienced attorney can assist you in analyzing your legal claims and protecting your legal rights.

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