DOT-111 oil tanker cars that exploded in Quebec, Canada in July last year causing the deaths of 47 people and two and a half billion dollars worth of damage are rumbling through your home town right now. In fact, there are around 98,000 of these cars operating on rail tracks across the United States.
Each car carries around 30,000 gallons of crude oil and there is documented evidence that there is a very real risk of injuries and fatalities following a tanker explosion, rail derailment, oil spill or fire.
According to a spokesman from the Railway Supply Institute (RSI), two thirds of the cars could be made a great deal safer by retro-fitting them with a number of modifications, including increasing the thickness of the steel plating, better puncture proofing and temperature regulation.
A spokesman, Tom Simpson, said that the RSI had recommended to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the federal body charged with regulating tanker car specifications and railway companies, these modifications could realistically be put in place within a year at a cost of around 60 to 70 thousand dollars per car. The DOT has not yet decided to act on the recommendation.
What if any of these tanker cars is involved in a disaster? One state official, when asked his opinion about New York State’s state of readiness to disasters of the scale of Quebec’s, thought that despite it being a local issue most local and / or volunteer fire departments would not have the sort of expensive equipment that could permit rapid deployment and containment in the event of a major tanker car accident.
A New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control spokesman, Andrew Dickenson, said that there were no state standards which required local or volunteer fire departments to have the sort of adequate equipment available.
Apparently, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Legislature have been pressing for voluntary measures to be put in to place. Fines on railroad companies when derailments and other accidents take place are miniscule in comparison to the potential cost of a major disaster and the organizations just quote have also asked for fines to be raised substantially. It appears that effective regulation of both the oil and railway industries is not a reality at present.
The sort of accident that happened in Canada could happen it seems right here in the United States. The scale of such an accident can lead to dozens of injuries and deaths. In a situation like that, there would be multiple personal injury claims against a number of parties that would be held responsible for negligent safety standards.
Unfortunately, accidents of this nature are complex ones to pin down in terms of who is actually responsible and how much should be paid out for an injury. The lawsuits would likely drag on for years before a settlement is reached.
The time lag between an injury caused by gross negligence and settlement can be a very distressing period and injured victims. Often, household cash flow decreases as victims are unable to work. Other factors, such as economic conditions can also contribute to the stress. Victims/plaintiffs and family members who may have lost a loved one, can buckle under tremendous financial pressure.
One solution which is available for individuals with lawsuits waiting for settlement and in need of funding to ease their financial strain is to arrange a lawsuit loan. Lawsuit loans, also known as legal funding, are financial contracts in which a settlement funding company offers immediate cash to plaintiff(s). The plaintiff(s) pledge a portion of the proceeds of the settlement in return. The money can be used at the client’s discretion and need not be paid back if the case is not result in a settlement or other recovery.
Lawsuit loans are one possible source of liquidity available to litigants who encounter financial pressure, whether caused the accident or by other factors.