Refinery Explosion Lawyer in Houston
The Houston metro area has 10 oil refineries, which collectively account for more than 45 percent of statewide crude oil production and nearly 15 percent of production nationwide. These facilities employ tens of thousands of workers and account for millions of dollars of economic production. However, they also represent a serious potential hazard.
Refinery explosions can happen when equipment fails, or refinery owners, contractors, or workers fail to properly follow safety procedures. Victims of refinery explosions are often left with extensive injuries that require costly medical care and time away from work.
If you are struggling financially and emotionally in the aftermath of a Houston refinery explosion, you should know that you could be entitled to financial compensation for your losses.
At The Callahan Law Firm, our trusted attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the rights of Houston refinery explosion victims. We are prepared to help by evaluating your case and working closely with you to pursue the compensation you are owed.
Contact our office now for a free initial consultation with a refinery explosion lawyer in Houston.
What Makes Refinery Accidents So Hazardous?
Oil refineries process crude oil by separating it into its component substances. This processing requires intense heat, energy, and dangerous chemicals to initiate and sustain chemical reactions. If substances are improperly handled, combined, or heated during processing, they can release toxic gasses, spew harmful dust, or even explode.
The materials used in modern refineries are also often hazardous in and of themselves, well before any processing happens. Many of these substances are flammable, explosive, corrosive, or carcinogenic. Because of the nature of what they do, petrochemical refineries necessarily handle large quantities of these dangerous materials.
Due to the inherent risks in an oil refinery, facility owners, operators, and contractors must take extensive safety precautions. Workers must be thoroughly trained and equipped with appropriate protective gear, equipment, and storage structures must be routinely inspected and maintained, and proper procedures must be followed at all times.
If refinery owners, operators, or contractors are careless or reckless, even minor slip-ups can have significant consequences. An oil refinery explosion can harm people both inside and outside the facility, potentially causing devastating long-term effects.
What Can Cause a Refinery Explosion Accident?
Oil refinery and chemical plant explosions are preventable accidents. History shows that when an explosion happens, negligence or recklessness is all too often the cause. Common causes of refinery explosions in Houston include:
- Lack of proper training – When workers lack the training to do their jobs safely, they are more likely to commit dangerous errors.
- Welding accidents – When a welder begins work on a storage container or other structure needing maintenance at an oil refinery, explosions happen when flammable gasses are inadvertently present.
- Improper storage – Refineries store large amounts of oil as well as refined products. If that oil or product is stored improperly or storage structures are poorly maintained, undetected leaks can lead to fires and explosions.
- Improper waste storage – Refineries must store polluted waste from chemical spills before it can be purified. If the waste is stored improperly or in faulty containers, it can corrode structures, leak out, and contribute to explosions.
- Cooling tower failure – Cooling towers are used to cool heated materials during refining. If these cooling towers fail, temperatures may spiral out of control, and runaway chemical reactions can lead to explosions.
- Shut-off safety system failure – When accidents happen, remote shut-off safety systems can be the last line of defense against a disaster. If these systems are not installed or operational, dangerous explosions can happen.
What Are Common Injuries from Refinery Explosions in Houston?
Common types of injuries caused by oil refinery explosions include:
- Burn injuries from fires
- Skin injuries from chemical exposure
- Smoke and chemical inhalation injuries
- Blunt force trauma injuries
- Crushing injuries from structural collapse
- Fractured or dislocated bones
- Soft tissue strains, sprains, and tears
- Eye injuries and vision loss
- Ear injuries and hearing loss
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputation and loss of limb
Who Can Suffer Injuries from a Refinery Explosion?
Workers in oil refineries and petrochemical plants are at the greatest risk when an explosion happens. These individuals experience the initial shockwave of the blast, the dangers of fire spreading through a facility full of flammable materials, and the highest concentration of harmful substances released by the explosion.
However, refinery and plant workers are not the only ones who suffer injuries during these incidents. The force of the blast and the resultant smoke and chemicals emanating from an explosion can spread for miles. People who live or work near a refinery can suffer respiratory injuries and even permanent damage to the eyes and lungs following a refinery explosion.
Establishing Liability in a Refinery Explosion Case
If you were injured in a Houston refinery explosion, you should not be forced to shoulder the financial consequences. Determining those responsible for the explosion is a complex and challenging process, which is why it is critical to consult with a refinery explosion lawyer as soon as possible.
Depending on the circumstances, you could seek compensation from:
- The facility owner and operator – If the company that owns or operates the refinery failed to take all necessary steps to prevent an explosion, it should be held responsible for its negligence that caused or contributed to the incident.
- A contractor – If a contractor or one of its employees caused or contributed to the explosion, claims based on negligence and gross negligence can be brought against those responsible.
- A product manufacturer – If a defective product was a cause of the explosion, a product liability claim can be brought against the manufacturer and possibly others.
- Your employer – If injured on the job, a workers’ compensation claim can be made with your employer. Workers’ comp should then pay for related medical care expenses and a portion of loss of earnings.
Is There a Time Limit on Refinery Accident Injury Lawsuits?
Yes, there is a time limit in which a refinery accident injury lawsuit must be filed. The general rule in the state of Texas is that a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence must be filed not later than two years after the date of the incident that caused the injury. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule. It is best to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to prevent your case from being derailed by avoidable mistakes or missed deadlines.
Contact Our Experienced Houston Refinery Explosion Lawyers Today
If you have questions about your rights and want to know whether you have a case after a refinery explosion, get in touch with The Callahan Law Firm as soon as possible. Our experienced Houston refinery explosion lawyers can provide the answers you need and explain your legal options.
Contact our office now to get started with an initial consultation.