Officials Try To Put Price Tag On Ohio Train Derailment
Governor Mike DeWine wants Norfolk Southern to pick up the tab for the long-term impacts of the February 3 toxic train derailment inflicted upon the community.
Since the accident, officials have said tests showed the air and municipal water were safe and allowed residents to return to their homes after a brief evacuation order. But those living in East Palestine have for months expressed concerns and frustration about both the economic impacts the crash had on their community and health problems, including rashes and nausea, they worry are linked to the derailment. “Everything we’ve asked (Norfolk Southern) to pay for so far, they’ve paid for,” DeWine said. “And we expect them to continue to do that.”
Norfolk Southern has vowed to help East Palestine fully recover and has said it will remain in the community for “as long as it takes.”
Property damage and medical bills are usually the two largest components of economic damages in a toxic tort matter. If companies like Norfolk Southern immediately agree to pay all such damages, the lawyers don’t have to get involved. But if the company drags its feet or makes a low-ball offer, a Ohio train derailment attorney must join the fight.
If victims must move, they are entitled to the replacement value of their homes, and not the fair market value. The FMV might be almost nothing, because no one wants to live in an environmental danger zone. To determine replacement value, an attorney, usually in partnership with a realtor or other such professional, looks at comparably-sized homes in neighborhoods similar to pre-derailment East Palestine.
Additionally, an item like the family home usually has an emotional value that, in many cases, exceeds its financial value. Victims deserve compensation for this loss as well.
Medical expenses are often difficult to determine. Cancer and other environmental poisoning-related illnesses usually have very long latency periods. When victims require treatment in the future, because of medical bill inflation, their expenses will be much higher than they are today.
On a related note, settlements must also account for inflation. A dollar today is worth less than a dollar tomorrow.
Disruptive events like sudden, long-distance moves and serious chronic illnesses which are often fatal cause almost unbelievable pain and suffering, lost enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and lost consortium (companionship). Certain economic losses are hard to calculate, as outlined above. Noneconomic losses are even harder to determine.
Usually, to determine a claim’s settlement value, a Columbus personal injury lawyer usually multiplies the economic losses by two, three, or four.
The facts of the case are usually the biggest factor in determining this multiplier. Others include the party’s motivation to settle and the presence, or absence, of insurance company defenses.
Some victims want to move on as quickly as possible. Others are willing to hold out longer and wait for a better offer. On the flip side, some companies fight injury claims tooth and nail, while some fold faster than Superman on laundry day.
Companies don’t want to nitpick over environmental disasters. As for defenses, the victims clearly weren’t at fault for a train derailment. Norfolk Southern might try to blame a product manufacturer or another party. But, someone has to pay. So, both these factors point to a large potential Ohio train derailment settlement.
Reach Out to a Diligent Franklin County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Columbus, contact the Oliver Law Office. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.