Hot Box Detector Products Did Not Stop the Ohio Train Derailment

Hot Box Detector Products Did Not Stop the Ohio Train DerailmentAccording to a recent report by CNN, hot box detectors are placed on railroad tracks about every 20 miles. These detectors are responsible for recording temperatures of the railroad bearings when trains go by. Therefore, if the sensors determine that the bearing is too hot, the detectors are supposed to set off an alarm to alert the train crew to stop. However, the detectors in East Palestine, Ohio missed this bearing failure, which resulted in a Norfolk Southern train derailment in February 2023.

In 2019, there was a study conducted on hot box detectors. The results of the study showed that the detectors simply cannot tell the difference between defective and normal bearings, and that temperature is not enough to determine the condition of a bearing. Therefore, the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety came up with a new way to detect bearing issues before a disaster happens, which included using vibrations. They decided to use vibrations because a rail bearing will begin vibrating many miles before it fails. However, this new system was not on the railroad line on which the Norfolk Southern train was traveling, as it is not a federal requirement.

Instead, the hot box detectors that were on the railroad line at the time detected that the temperature of the wheel bearing was increasing several miles before the accident, but did not send out an alert to the crew until it was too late. As a matter of fact, The National Transportation Safety Board released a report stating that the bearings were 38 degrees over the normal temperature 30 miles from East Palestine, but the detectors did not alert the crew. After 20 more miles, the temperature had risen to more than 100 degrees above normal, and sparks of fire were caught on video footage. However, there still was no warning given.

Right before the train derailed, a hot box detector sounded an alarm letting the crew know that the bearings were more than 250 degrees above normal. Once the crew began slowing down, the train had already derailed. The report stated that the Norfolk Southern train’s policy is to only stop and check out the bearings if the temperature is 170 degrees above normal. Therefore, by the time it was over this temperature and the detectors sensed it, it was too late.

Unfortunately, several of the train’s cars were transporting hazardous materials that could negatively impact the environment. One of the most alarming chemicals that five of the cars were carrying was Vinyl Chloride, which is known to cause liver cancer. Other chemicals that were on the train included Benzene, Isobutylene, Ethylene Acrylate, Butyl Acrylate, and more. Those who live near the derailment site were encouraged to evacuate and avoid breathing in the toxic materials.

Another Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio happened recently

In March 2023, another Norfolk Southern train derailed. This time the derailment occurred in Springfield, Ohio. No injuries were reported, and no hazardous materials have been found. An investigation is still ongoing to determine what caused this derailment.

At first, residents within 1,000 miles feet of the derailment were being urged to take caution and shelter in place. However, a HAZMAT team determined that the tankers were carrying diesel exhaust fluid and polyacrylamide water solution, which are both considered non-hazardous.

What type of injuries typically result from train accidents?

A lot of people think that traveling by train is the safest way to travel. However, train derailments and accidents can occur at any given moment during your travel. When these accidents happen, individuals typically experience catastrophic injuries, which are sudden, permanent, and life-altering. Here are a few examples of the most common injuries that people experience from train derailments and accidents:

How to obtain compensation for damages if you were injured in a train accident

There are two different types of compensation you can recover from a train derailment or accident, which include financial and non-financial damages. However, in order to receive these damages, you must have proof that you experienced losses from the accident. When determining your losses, think about all the ways your life has been negatively impacted since the accident or derailment occurred. The following are a few examples of losses you may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical or psychological therapy
  • Home modifications

Determining liability for your train accident

Our Columbus attorneys at Soroka & Associates will work with you to determine who is liable for your train accident. Depending on the type of train accident you experienced, there are a variety of different people who can be found liable. In a product liability case, we will most likely look at the individuals or companies responsible for manufacturing and maintaining the train and railroads. However, we will also look at the conductor, the employees, and employers as it is their responsibility to keep people safe when the train is moving.

How long do you have to file an injury claim in Ohio?

Even though we know and understand that you are going through a difficult time and need to focus on your recovery, our lawyers recommend scheduling a free consultation as quickly as possible. The reason for this is because Ohio’s statute provides a two-year limit to file a claim. This may seem like plenty of time, but the truth is that it can go by extremely fast if you keep putting it off.

Our product liability attorneys at Soroka & Associates are experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable when it comes to the laws surrounding train accidents and derailments. We know that these cases can become very complex and challenging to pursue, but you can rest assured knowing that our team will do everything we can to stand up for your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call our office, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.