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Types of Injuries in Refinery Explosions

When you mention “refinery,” the average person will assume that you mean a facility that converts crude oil into gasoline, diesel, and residential/industrial heating oil. This same person will be surprised to learn that a “refinery” is an industrial operation that converts raw materials into something of value and/or the production of materials to be used in other manufacturing operations. Regardless of the type of refinery, these facilities have several things in common:

  • Refineries use raw materials that are themselves potentially toxic to humans or are capable of damaging the environment.
  • The refining process usually involves subjecting raw materials to high temperatures and/or pressures, both of which can cause explosions and fires.
  • The refining process often makes use of chemicals that are themselves dangerous if encountered outside carefully controlled conditions.
  • Many refineries are located in, or relatively close to, urban areas where their employees live.

On this page, the refinery and chemical plant explosion injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will discuss the more common types of injuries that refinery/chemical plant workers could suffer in an explosion and then explain why injured workers should talk to an experienced industrial plant accident lawyer to make sure that they receive the full amount of compensation that they deserve for their injuries.

Types of injuries in refinery explosions

There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of injuries that refinery workers following a workplace explosion and/or fire. Since there are an almost infinite number of injuries, or combination of injuries, it will be convenient to group refinery explosion injuries based on their physical mechanism. Note that there is considerable “overlap” in these types of injuries, meaning that it is rare to encounter a single “pure” injury type. As an example, burn injuries are frequently accompanied by injuries to the victim’s lungs that are caused by smoke or toxic gas inhalation.

Blast injuries

Refinery explosions are capable of hurling workers several feet into the air and tens of feet across the open ground. In addition to injuries such as fractures that are directly caused by an explosion, refinery workers are often struck by debris that is sent flying by the explosion. Since explosions are so frequently accompanied by fires, many refinery safety experts consider them to be “two sides of the same coin” when investigating refinery accidents.

Burn injuries

Very often, refinery explosions are accompanied by fires that cause burn injuries. In refinery explosions, burn injuries can range from minor to life-threatening to fatal. In addition to thermal (heat) burns, refinery workers often suffer burns by coming to contact with any number of chemical compounds that are used in routine refinery operations. In addition to thermal and chemical burns, refinery workers can also suffer burns from an unusual source: exposure to extreme cold.

Many refining processes make use of gases that are contained or stored under very high pressures. If these gases suddenly escape into the atmosphere, their temperature will often fall to subzero levels and produce an extreme-cold injury that is similar to frostbite but destroying/damaging tissues at depths much deeper than typically seen in frostbite. Such extreme cold injuries typically require, at best, repeated surgeries and may require amputations to save the victim’s life.

Inhalation injuries

Many refinery explosions are accompanied by a release of potentially-toxic gases that are routinely used in the refining process or are produced in fires that frequently such explosions. If these substances are inhaled, they can cause damage to lung tissue that may be very difficult to treat except at major hospitals or regional trauma centers.

Exposure to toxic or dangerous chemicals

As mentioned earlier, many refinery processes make use of substances that are dangerous to humans. Many of these substances are known to cause cancer or birth defects, sometimes years following accidental exposure. Those suspecting that their health problems may be due to a refinery accident are advised to speak with a refinery explosion accident lawyer for advice on how to further investigate their suspicions.

Injuries to those living near refineries

Many refineries are located close to both residential structures (homes and mobile homes) and the business districts in many communities. This means that explosions and/or fires at a refinery can cause both personal injuries and property damage in areas that are well beyond a refinery’s boundaries. In most cases, there is little doubt as to the liability of the refinery’s owner for these “offsite” losses. There are, however, special cases where a refinery owner can be held liable for damages even in the absence of an explosion or fire.

Anyone living near the site of a refinery explosion who suffers a physical injury and/or property damage as a direct result of that explosion may have grounds for a lawsuit against the refinery’s owner.

Why you need a refinery explosion lawyer

If you were injured by a refinery explosion or a similar accident, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the refinery’s owner to recover compensation for your injuries. To increase your chances of being successful in such a lawsuit, you should retain the services of a lawyer with experience in such lawsuits. One such refinery explosion lawyer can be contacted at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide refinery explosion law practice.

When you contact the refinery explosion accident lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, your injury case review and your initial consultation with our firm is always free of any charges to you and does not obligate you to hire our firm as your legal representative in you in your refinery explosion injury lawsuit. Should you decide to hire our firm to manage your refinery explosion lawsuit, we are willing to assume all responsibility for preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.

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