Did you suffer injuries while working in a refinery or oilfield? Was it due to a pipeline explosion? Did someone’s negligent actions cause the accident? If so, do not hesitate to contact the Houston personal injury attorneys of Kherkher Garcia, LLP. You might be entitled to benefits or compensation for the suffering you endured.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, we understand the devastation of pipeline explosions. When you’re working with hazardous substances, anything could spark a fire and cause the entire plant to explode. Injuries can be painful and lead to permanent disability or disfigurement. In many cases, death occurs.
Our Houston pipeline explosion attorneys have over 30 years of experience representing injured workers like you. When you hire us, we will immediately begin an investigation to pursue the compensation you need to heal. You can depend on us to keep your best interests in mind as we’re working on your case and try to find a way to reach a favorable outcome.
To find out more about the services we offer or for a free consultation, call Kherkher Garcia, LLP at (713) 333-1030 today.
Common Types of Pipelines
Various types of pipelines exist, but the two most frequently used in the United States are natural gas and oil. Natural gas pipelines can deliver necessary fuel to businesses, homes, and other places that need it. Oil pipelines play a critical role in the energy sector.
Natural Gas Pipelines
Distributors receive natural gas through these pipelines and send the product to their consumers. The pipes are made of carbon steel and can be as big as five feet in diameter or as small as two inches across. The pressurized pipelines allow gas to move from one end to the other smoothly.
Workers on oilfields and refineries can transport crude or refined oils by using oil pipelines. These pipes are made of plastic or steel and can extend up to four feet in diameter or be as little as just a few inches. Most pipelines like this run underground and come to the surface only when they reach valves and pumping stations.
The fuels and gasses typically carried by pipelines are:
- Crude oil
- Liquified gases
- Jet fuel
- Natural gas liquid
These materials are volatile and highly combustible. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets safety regulations and guidelines to ensure companies and employees handle these hazardous substances with care. Human error, poorly maintained equipment, and many other factors could lead to a destructive explosion, causing injuries and fatalities to anyone in the path of the blast.
Common Causes of Pipeline Explosions
You can find oilfields and refineries all across the state. Texas is one of the most popular areas for drilling oil and other materials. Workers face dangers whenever they set foot on the job site. They encounter flammable liquids, heavy machinery, and cramped working spaces. Injuries and death often occur when an employee or the company violates laws and regulations.
The most common causes of pipeline explosions include:
- Inadequate training – Employers should provide training programs, so workers know how to operate the equipment, respond in an emergency, and follow regulations. Failing to provide necessary training, especially to new hires, could place people in harm’s way when an inexperienced or unqualified employee performs their jobs incorrectly.
- Poor maintenance – All machinery and equipment must be in good working condition. The pipeline should also function properly and not contain damage or defects. Natural wear and tear and other complications could cause anything in a refinery to malfunction, resulting in an explosion.
- Improper excavation – Performing excavation near a pipeline can cause damage and lead to leaks. Leaking fuel or oil can come in contact with a spark and ignite a fire.
- Welding failures – Holes and cracks can develop anywhere in the pipe. Workers can weld the damaged areas back together, so chemicals don’t leak while they’re carried to an oilfield or refinery. However, using the incorrect tools or performing a sloppy weld increases the risk of an explosion and other deadly accidents.
- Lack of safety devices – Employees must have access to safety gear and devices to protect them from the dangers they face at work. Safety goggles can prevent blindness if hazardous particles become airborne. Sturdy guardrails on raised platforms could prevent someone from falling. Without the necessary safety equipment, workers are at the mercy of their surroundings.
- Installation errors – Correctly installing the pipeline is crucial, so the oil runs through it smoothly and won’t leak out or become trapped. If workers make a mistake during installation, various scenarios could result in an explosion.
- Old or defective parts – Pipelines, equipment, and heavy machinery can suffer wear and tear or damage from continuous use. Repairs and replacement of worn-out or defective parts are necessary to keep everything functioning as normal. Ignoring these problems increases the risk of injuries in a catastrophic accident.
The Houston pipeline explosion lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP have seen the physical, emotional, and financial toll a workplace accident can take. You might struggle to afford your medical bills and be unable to return to your job, which can lead to lost wages. You should not be forced to bear the economic burden when someone else was at fault for the explosion. If any of these or some other cause resulted in your injuries, do not hesitate to contact us.
Common Injuries Associated with Pipeline Explosions
Injuries can range widely in severity, but most explosions cause severe and often fatal injuries. You could get hurt from the initial blast and suffer additional harm from flying debris, flames, smoke inhalation, and other factors. The most common injuries pipeline explosions cause are:
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Broken bones
- Burns and cuts
- Traumatic brain injury or concussion
- Spinal cord damage
- Punctured organs
- Internal bleeding
- Lung damage
- Loss of limbs
- Disfigurement or permanent scarring
- Back injuries
- Psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
Even if your physical injuries heal, you could face months or years of emotional suffering. Depression and anxiety are common complications suffered after pipeline explosions. You knew of the inherent dangers you faced at work but thought you wouldn’t encounter hazards that put you at risk of harm. Unfortunately, someone’s negligent actions resulted in a dangerous environment that led to a destructive accident.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston pipeline explosion attorneys are ready to take on the at-fault party and secure the money you’re owed for your suffering. You should not face the financial consequences of someone else’s wrongdoing. We can handle your insurance claim or lawsuit and battle against the opposing parties for compensation that can cover your losses.
Benefits Available in a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Four main benefits are available when you file a claim with your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance company:
- Income benefits – These benefits can replace a portion of the wages you lost due to the explosion. You can apply for temporary income, impairment income, supplemental income, or lifetime income, depending on the type and severity of your injury.
- Medical benefits – The insurance company should pay each of your doctors directly for all reasonable and necessary treatment you seek to heal your work-related injury or illness.
- Burial benefits – You could receive reimbursement for the expenses you incurred from burial services if your loved one suffered a fatal injury from a pipeline explosion.
- Death benefits – Surviving family members can may be paid an income after a loved one dies in a job-related accident.
You must notify your employer of your injury or illness within 30 days of the accident to apply for benefits. You’re entitled to payments as long as they offer workers’ compensation coverage, and the explosion happened while you were performing your job duties.
Holding Your Employer Liable for a Pipeline Explosion
Since Texas law doesn’t require all businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance, you might not be entitled to benefits. If your employer doesn’t provide coverage and they were at fault for the accident that caused your injury, you could file a lawsuit against them.
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. This is a strict timeframe for initiating legal action against a negligent party. You must file suit within two years of the accident date if you want to pursue compensation through the courts.
Pipeline explosions often result in various losses. The losses you can attempt to recoup money for include:
- Mental anguish
- Damage to personal property
- Past and future medical bills
- Loss of household services
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
You might also be entitled to exemplary damages. Instead of compensating you for your losses, an award of these damages punishes the at-fault party for their misconduct. A jury will only make this award if you provide clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with gross negligence, fraud, or malice.
It’s crucial that you don’t admit fault for the explosion. Even if you believe your actions contributed, don’t speak to anyone about it. A jury could use proportionate responsibility to reduce your monetary award by the percentage of fault you share for an accident. That means you could end up with much less compensation than you need to cover your total losses.
For example, let’s say you suffered $100,000 in losses. If the jury determines you were 20 percent to blame for your injuries, you could pursue no more than $80,000 in compensation. If you were over 50 percent at fault, state law would bar you from any financial recovery.
What Should I Do if I Get Hurt in a Pipeline Explosion?
Whether your injury is minor or severe, there are several critical steps you should take after a workplace accident. Seeking medical treatment is one of the most important things you can do after suffering a job-related injury. After an initial evaluation, the doctor should recommend a treatment plan. It’s vital that you follow their instructions.
Attend all of your appointments regularly. If you skip appointments or wait too long before your first one, the insurance company could use that as evidence that your injury doesn’t exist or isn’t serious. Insurance companies place their interests above those of accident victims. If they can find a reason to deny your claim, they will.
You’ll also need a Houston pipeline explosion lawyer to represent you in your case. You’re more likely to recover higher compensation with the help of an attorney than if you try to handle the process yourself. When you hire Kherkher Garcia, LLP, we can investigate the explosion, find the at-fault party or parties, and file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf. We have many years of experience negotiating insurance settlements and litigating cases in court.
Maintaining records is another action you can take following a pipeline explosion that could improve your chance of receiving the benefits you deserve. Keep a copy of every document you receive and forward them to us for review. We might be able to use them to prove you suffered a disabling injury and can’t return to work.
Kherkher Garcia, LLP will be in your corner throughout the entire process. You will have a dedicated legal team advocating for your rights. We work tirelessly to meet our clients’ interests and achieve their goals. We won’t give up without a fight. We’re not afraid to stand up to negligent parties and hold them liable for what they’ve done.
Number of Explosions by Contributing Factor
Number of Fatalities by Year and Contributing Factor
- Hazardous Liquid
- Gas Transmission
- Gas Distribution
Kherkher Garcia, LLP will fight by your side for justice following a pipeline explosion injury. We put forth the same amount of effort in every case we take, big or small. You will receive personalized services and attention until we resolve your workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit.
With over 100 years of combined experience, our Houston pipeline explosion lawyers know how to get the job done. We use our skills, knowledge, and resources to reach positive results for injured workers throughout Texas. You can contact us any time, day or night, with our 24/7 services. We’re always available to take your call and offer the support and guidance you need.
If a pipeline explosion caused your injury or illness and you believe someone else caused the explosion, or if you need workers’ compensation benefits, contact Kherkher Garcia, LLP for a free consultation by calling (713) 333-1030. Let us seek the benefits or compensation you need and help you get on the road to recovery.