Pasadena, Texas Oil Refinery Injury Lawyers
Texas is well known as a capital of the American oil industry, with 10 of its refineries processing 2.6 million barrels of crude oil every day – nearly 15 percent of the nation’s total. Unfortunately, corporations sometimes sacrifice safety for profits with tragic results. If you were injured in an accident at one of these facilities, you need an experienced oil refinery injury lawyer to help you pursue the financial compensation you deserve.
What Does an Oil Refinery Do?
An oil refinery converts or refines crude oil into usable petroleum products, including fuel for transportation or heating. Oil refineries separate, convert, and treat crude oil, breaking it down into its basic components and then reconfiguring it into new products.
Why Can Oil Refineries Be a Dangerous Place to Work?
Because of the complex tasks performed at oil refineries and the inherent danger of the materials they process, there are unique safety challenges to protecting its workers. An oil refinery is a hazardous place to work because of the risk of injuries due to:
- Explosions – Hydrogen molecules must be extracted from the crude oil base to make various oil-based products. During the extraction, explosions are more likely because a tiny spark can cause the hydrogen molecules to ignite.
- Burns – Crude oil must be heated to 900 degrees to be at a point of decomposition. Any workers who come into contact with the oil at this extremely high temperature may suffer devastating, disfiguring burns or even death.
- Exposure to gas and chemicals – Oxygen, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen are released from the crude oil base as it is broken down. Workers may develop respiratory problems if they inhale dangerous gases. Likewise, exposure to chemicals during the refining process can damage workers’ lungs or skin and put them at risk of developing cancer.
What Are Some Causes of Oil Refinery Accidents?
A small fire can quickly lead to a massive explosion due to the chemicals present and processes performed at an oil refinery. While the work is inherently dangerous, accidents are often preventable. Companies that cut corners in safety training or maintenance are at a greater risk for accidents caused by:
- Improper maintenance – Poorly maintained equipment or unseen corrosion are often to blame for oil refinery accidents.
- Unsafely containing chemicals and gases – The toxic, combustible nature of many of the chemicals present at an oil refinery creates an environment where a small leak can result in a deadly explosion.
- Inadequately trained staff – Poorly trained staff unfamiliar with appropriate safety procedures are more prone to causing accidents. Without the necessary safety protocols in place, a preventable tragedy can easily occur.
- Negligent hiring – Employing independent contractors or workers without the necessary background in the field creates the risk of significant accidents, as the workers may be unfamiliar with equipment or safety protocols.
What Types of Injuries Are Caused by a Refinery Accident?
The injuries caused by an oil refinery accident are often severe and debilitating, if not fatal, and commonly include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Crush injuries
- Severe burns
- Nerve damage
While some injuries are immediately noticeable, others do not appear for months or years. The harmful gases emitted in an explosion or present during the refining process mean the risk of toxic exposure is greater for oil refinery workers. They might develop illnesses like cancer years after the explosion put dangerous chemicals into the air.
What Is a BLEVE?
BLEVE is an acronym for “boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.” This type of explosion is due to the rupture of a vessel that contains pressurized liquid that has reached a temperature over its boiling point. The vessel’s contents can remain liquid as long as the vessel is intact. But if the vessel is damaged or compromised and the pressure loss drops the boiling point, the liquid will convert to gas and expand. If the gas is combustible, it will explode and potentially cause traumatic accidents.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Refinery Accident?
Determining liability for an oil refinery accident requires a complex investigation, as multiple parties may be responsible. For example, the company that owns and operates the oil refinery may be held accountable for the accident if it failed to implement proper safety protocols and violated OSHA regulations. An investigation may also reveal that the company inadequately trained its workers or failed to replace outdated or defective equipment. Equipment manufacturers or installers may share liability for the accident depending on the nature of the accident, as could independent contractors.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing My Refinery Accident Injury Claim in Texas?
The statute of limitations for a refinery accident injury claim is typically two years in Texas. That means you must file your lawsuit within two years of the accident date to avoid losing your right to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses in court. However, specific circumstances may extend or shorten the deadline for filing. You should contact an oil refinery accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to ensure you file on time.
Can I Also Claim Workers’ Compensation for the Refinery Accident?
If you were injured on the job, you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp benefits could pay for your medical care, offset a portion of your lost wages, and provide you with certain other benefits. Depending on the circumstances, a workers’ comp claim could be your only avenue for recovering compensation or one of several options. An experienced refinery accident lawyer can review your case and advise you on your rights.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered for My Injuries?
Depending on what you suffered in the refinery accident, you could be owed money for your:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
Contact a Pasadena, TX Refinery Injury Lawyer
The personal injury attorneys at Fleming Law understand that the legal process may feel unfamiliar and intimidating while you are recovering from injuries sustained in a refinery accident. That’s why you should consider letting an experienced attorney with our firm handle your case. We can work hard to establish liability and pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation with an experienced Pasadena refinery injury attorney.