What Are Common Causes Of Refinery Accidents?
Causes of a refinery accident are about as complex as the vast array of machinery and processes within a refinery or chemical plant. From a legal perspective, causes include explosions due to mechanical failure, excess pressure in a process line, failure of a component under excess pressure or heat or cold, and failure of a safety mechanism intended to prevent explosions. Other cases are related to construction activities, such as pinching or crushing hazards around heavy equipment (e.g. cranes, bulldozers, trucks, rotating equipment). Hazardous gases, fumes, and liquids can be released from process equipment due to a mechanical failure or human. A person exposed to such chemical releases will have certain legal rights that depend on the situation. We know from recent history that accidents, explosions, and injuries can result from machine failures, floods, fires, or plain old human error.
Who Can Be Potentially Liable In A Refinery Explosion Accident?
Typically, the owner of the plant is first in line for fault to anyone injured on their premises. Second in line are contractors working on the job site and whose employees are typically injured in an accidental explosion. Third may be a plant employee whose negligence caused the accident, in which case a claim would be made against both the employee and employer, the latter of whom is normally the plant owner who will probably defend their employee. We don’t usually make direct claims against individual employees.
How Are Catastrophic Injury Claims Resulting From Refinery Explosions Valued? How Is Future Medical Care Determined?
Catastrophic injury claims are valued according the same elements of damage discussed above; the difference will be the severity and permanence of the injury. In a catastrophic case, the injury is normally loss of life or major damage or loss of a body part. An expert physician will need to provide an opinion as to expected future medical expenses for surgery or life care. Your attorney should have a list of physicians whom he trusts and has worked with in the past.
In the case of a death, it is inherently hard to value a human life. For legal purposes, the damages are related to the person’s income history and expected earning in a normal lifetime, the number of dependents, the needs of the dependents through the age of majority, and the circumstances of the injury. Physicians with experience in physical and mental health should be consulted in some cases.
Would Refinery Accident Personal Injury Cases Fall Under Workers’ Compensation Law Or Personal Injury Law?
In most refinery accident cases, both personal injury law and workers’ compensation law will be a part of the analysis. Most chemical plants or refineries will have workers’ compensation insurance policies for their workers. Workers’ compensation statutes in Texas state that a workers’ compensation claim is the employee’s exclusive remedy against their employer. Similarly, contractors working on the plant site will have workers’ compensation policies for their workers, so workers’ compensation may be their exclusive remedy.
Workers’ compensation protects the employer from a negligence lawsuit, but not a claim for gross negligence. Gross negligence is very hard to establish, so if we just focus on a negligence case, a plant worker injured by exposure to hazardous chemicals over the course of their career would likely sue the product suppliers for occupational exposure injury. If the facts indicate that the plant owner failed to properly manage the activity that caused the harm, failed to enforce safety rules, or failed to properly operate the process resulting in the catastrophe, then special legal analysis will be needed in order to provide a proper representation and achieve a favorable outcome.
For more information on Causes Of Refinery Explosions In Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 714-0073 today.
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