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Kevin Duffan
Kevin Duffan
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Hide and Seek – FRA Considering Rules That Would Allow Railroads to Hide Safety Lapse Evidence

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In years past, railroads have been caught, on numerous occasions, trying to hide evidence of safety lapses in court. As such, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) is requesting the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) abandon a proposal that would give railroads legal cover to hide this vital evidence.

“The government wouldn’t allow an airline to hide evidence of safety lapses, and they shouldn’t allow railroads to do it, either,” said Larry Tawwater, AAJ President. “Given recent events such as the tragic train crash in Philadelphia, it is shameful that railroads would want to hide safety information.”

This is common sense and our firm supports the AAJ’s campaign.

The Problem

The FRA is proposing two separate rules. One would require passenger and freight railroads to implement safety plans, but each rule would permit railroads to legally hide a host of safety issues and enable to railroad to withhold that information as admissible evidence in a court of law. This evidence, though, is imperative for establishing what the railroads knew and when. It is also key to publicly uncover dangerous behavior and practices by a railroad to ensure public safety and work to prevent major railroad catastrophes.

Our Virginia railroad worker injury law firm has spent years battling big railroads like CSX, Norfolk Southern (NS), Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and so forth. We know, from experience, that the railroads will take advantage of any and all loopholes and withholding provisions to improve their chances of denying injured rail workers compensation (either through settlemtn or verdict).

The big railroads have routinely emphasized profits over worker safety. For example, the railroads knew that exposure to toxic asbestos fibers were a health hazard back in the 1950s, yet took little-to-no action to protect their workers for decades. As a result, thousands of conductors, engineers, switchmen, trainment, etc. are struggling with mesothelioma and other horrific cancers.

The Solution

Transparency is essential. No large corporaiton should be able to hide evidence of prior safety lapses. The public has a right to know when safety rules and regulations were not being followed by the big railroads.