Houston Plant Explosion Lawyer
1 Riverway, Suite 2500
Houston, Texas 77056
The economic recovery in the oil and gas markets has led to a new round of industrial expansion both inside and outside the oil fields. While this recovery is good news on the wage and employment fronts, it has also led to increasing numbers of industrial accident injuries. On this page, the industrial plant explosion lawyer at the Doan Law Firm gives a summary of how such accidents occur and then discusses what an injured worker should do if injured in an industrial accident.
Causes of Industrial Plant Explosions
Although there are dozens of possible causes for industrial plant explosions or accidents, many of those causes fall into five general classes:
- Employee carelessness
Carelessness by an employee is probably the most common cause of industrial plant explosions in Texas and nationwide. Employee carelessness is often not a direct cause of the accident but the starting point of a “chain of events” that ends with the accident.
- Defective equipment
Defective equipment includes things such as malfunctioning ventilation systems, automatic fire controls, and rupture of storage vessels and tanks. Another form of defective equipment is normally-functioning equipment that was improperly installed and fails to correctly monitor some condition or process.
- Improper storage of raw materials and/or finished products
Many industrial processes make use of potentially toxic chemicals such as acids and heavy metals. In addition, many industries produce toxic substances as by-products. Regardless of at what stage in the manufacturing process these substances appear, all must be stored under very precise conditions until they can be used or properly rendered harmless.
Weather conditions are, of course, beyond the control of everyone. This does not mean, however, that the designers of industrial plants can simply ignore the potential effects of weather conditions on the safe operation of industrial plants and refineries. As an example, the extensive flooding along the Texas Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Harvey was unavoidable but this does not excuse a failure to design industrial facilities to withstand the effects of heavy rainfall and high wind on critical industrial control systems.
- Long-term exposure
Industrial accidents do not always cause explosions or release clouds of toxic vapors. There are thousands of cases where a worker has been exposed to low levels of toxic and/or cancer-causing substances for years only to develop symptoms years later.
Long-term exposure may also pose a health hazard to those living near plants and refineries, even if those residents had no history of direct physical contact with dangerous substances. In such cases, those affected may be able to seek damages from an industrial plant or refinery owner.
Types of Damages That May Be Awarded in Industrial Plant Explosions
In accidents of any type, the person who was injured has the right to demand payment for any losses that they have suffered, so long as those losses were the direct result of the accident and the accident was the result of one or more acts of negligence by the party held to be responsible. These payments are called damages and are of three general types: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
- Economic Damages
Economic damages are damages to which a definite “dollar value” can be assigned. The value of such damages is based on the actual cost to the accident victim for items such as current and future medical expenses, temporary living expenses, or damage to personal property that must be repaired or replaced.
- Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are awarded to compensate accident victims for “intangible” losses such as “pain and suffering” by the accident victim or the emotional distress experienced by the victim’s family. Damages of this type may also be awarded to compensate accident victims and their families for disruptions to family life and social activities such as family outings, family social events, or the ability to attend religious services.
- Punitive Damages
Punitive damages, sometimes called “exemplary damages,” are intended to “punish” acts of negligence that resulted an injury. In general, the amount of punitive damages awarded is proportional to the degree of negligence involved. In other words, a deliberate act of negligence will be punished more severely than would a simple oversight.
Depending on the laws of the state where the injury occurred, there may be a limit (“cap”) on the amount of punitive damages that a court may award an injured worker or the worker’s family. Your industrial plant explosion lawyer will be able to advise you on whether to pursue punitive damages based on the circumstances of your injury.
The Doan Law Firm Represents Industrial Plant Accident Victims and Their Families
If you, or a family member, were injured in an industrial plant explosion accident you should contact an experienced industrial accident lawyer to arrange a review of the facts surrounding your accidental injury and to explore the options that may be available to you. In the Houston area, one such lawyer is the industrial plant explosion lawyer at the Doan Law Firm.
When you contact our industrial plant explosion lawyer, you first consultation is always free of charge and does not obligate you to hire out firm to represent you in court. Should you decide that we should manage your accident case, we will assume all responsibility for preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement that we will win for you.
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