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Cok Kinzler PLLP

Crude oil product liability in Montana rail transport

In the last half of the year, three train explosions have taken place that could potentially be due to product liability of crude oil contained and mislabeled in tanker cars. Reports indicate that many people in Montana and across the nation have shown concern for the reliability and safe transport of oil via train. An oil and gas worker or train employee who experiences an injury from an accident during crude oil transport could seek compensation for pain and suffering caused by potential product liability.

The most recent accident occurred when a grain train derailed and came to a rest across another set of train tracks. Shortly after, another train transporting crude oil collided with the grain train that was blocking the railroad path. The impact caused tank cars that contained the crude oil to explode and catch fire. Evacuations were executed in the area surrounding the collision and explosion -- including people who lived nearby -- due to product liability.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration made an announcement following the most recent train crash and explosion, confirming that they believed the crude oil being transported from a particular nearby region had a great potential to be excessively flammable when compared to other crude oil. Both the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration have increased their efforts in inspecting the more dangerous oil since the explosions began. The federal administration is still investigating the depth of product liability in the accident to ensure the crude oil was properly labeled and categorized. Certain crude oil with high flammability and corrosive properties can often require specific tank cars and other restrictions.

Inappropriately classified crude oil has the ability to cause great safety risks and potentially cause irreversible damages. In addition to explosions, records indicate that small crude oil spills are common with transferring product by railroad, widening the opportunity for product liability in the event of an injury. Although the majority of crude oil railroad transport is rural, a large number of trains carrying crude oil pass through Montana cities and populated areas. A worker or resident who suffers painful or debilitating damage to their person or property may pursue justice for product liability.

Source:, In North Dakota, oil train explosion a 'wake-up call', Blake Sobczak, Jan. 7, 2014

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