FAULTY DRILLING EQUIPMENT

Faulty Drilling Equipment and Drilling Accidents

Oil and gas are now among the leading industries in West Virginia. The Marcellus Shale formation produces billions of cubic feet of natural gas per day, and has quickly become a major contributor to the natural gas supply in the U.S. Marcellus is now the source for nearly half of all the shale gas produced in the United States, and this has meant tens of thousands of new jobs for workers in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia.

The Marcellus Shale and other oil and gas rich formations in Appalachia have been extremely profitable plays for the energy industry. Numerous companies have gotten in on the action, using new techniques such as hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) to extract “black gold” from deep beneath the earth’s surface.

While the shale formations in West Virginia and neighboring states have been very lucrative for energy companies, they have also resulted in a sharp increase in drilling accidents. Oil and gas drilling are among the most dangerous jobs in the world, and employers have a duty to take the steps necessary to keep their employees safe on the job. Unfortunately, employers do not always live up to this duty.

All too often, oil and gas drilling companies look for ways to cut corners and maximize their profits. One area in which they accomplish this is by using old, outdated, poorly maintained, and faulty drilling equipment.

There are numerous parts that need to be in good working order for a drilling rig to function properly. If any of these parts are defective, worn out, or not properly maintained, it can put workers in great danger.

Some of the most common problems with drilling equipment include:

  • Equipment design defects
  • Equipment manufacturing flaws
  • Faulty or missing safety guards
  • Corroded pipes, struts, and valves
  • Damaged tongs, blocks, and cables
  • Railings, ladders, and grating that are rusted out
  • Drill malfunctions
  • Lack of proper equipment maintenance

When there is faulty drilling equipment, it can result in all types of drilling accidents, from gas well or pipeline explosions to machinery accidents to structural collapses to hazardous chemical exposure to countless others. These accidents can cause serious injuries; such as head, neck, and back injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, severe burns, fractures/broken bones, amputations/loss of limbs, vision and hearing loss, crush injuries, and in the most severe cases, wrongful death.

Who is Responsible for Drilling Accidents resulting from Faulty Drilling Equipment?

Drilling accident cases can be complicated because of the multiple factors that may have contributed to the accident. A thorough investigation will be required to get the bottom of what happened and who was at fault. The employer may be at fault for using equipment that they knew (or should have known) was worn out or defective, or if they did not perform regular safety inspections or failed to adequately maintain the equipment. An equipment manufacturer or designer may also be at fault if there was a design or manufacturing defect. 

Oil and gas industry workers who are injured because of faulty drilling equipment are usually eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which covers medical bills, a portion of lost wages, and compensation for permanent injuries. The workers’ comp claims process is complex and confusing, however, and workers are sometimes denied the benefits they rightfully deserve. If this has happened to you, call our office right away to review your case.

Injured workers are not necessarily limited to receiving just workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if a drilling equipment designer or manufacturer was at-fault for the accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the designer or manufacturer, which can provide compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. In West Virginia, you may also be able to sue your employer under certain limited circumstances; such as if there is clear and convincing evidence that they knowingly put their workers in danger.

Injured in a Drilling Accident in West Virginia? Call the Experienced Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.

If you or someone close to you was injured in a drilling accident while working with faulty drilling equipment or for any other reason, you deserve to be fully compensated. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have stood up for the working people of West Virginia for over 40 years, and we are ready to go to work for you! We can meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and explore every potential legal avenue toward obtaining the full and fair compensation you need and deserve. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our online contact form.

Contractor Negligence to Blame for 2015 Yeager Airport Landslide

The failure in 2015 of the world’s largest engineered slope at Yeager Airport in Charlestown, WV was one of the most egregious examples of contractor negligence this state has ever seen. It was due to faulty construction of a runway extension the airport installed several years earlier. The damage suffered by nearby residents because of this historic failure totaled in the millions of dollars.

The airport filed a lawsuit against multiple contractors who were involved in the project, which resulted in an eight-figure settlement for the airport. Our own Timothy Bailey was one of the attorneys representing Yeager Airport and the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority in the landmark litigation.

It all started in 2003, when the airport decided to create a 500-foot extension (“safety area”) to the southernmost end of Runway 5, which required the construction of a man-made hillside and involved the use of an engineered material arresting system (EMAS).

The $25 million project involved 10 contractors. Triad Engineering designed the project and Cast & Baker led the construction of it, following Triad’s design. Most of the construction (of the project) was completed in 2007, although some peripheral projects continued for several years after.

Airport officials began to notice problems with the runway extension five years before the landslide that produced the massive collapse of the man-made hillside/slope in March of 2015, a collapse that destroyed a church and a home and caused widespread damage to several other homes in the area.

In a general inspection conducted on October 29, 2010, airport staff noted “EMAS damaged sections deteriorating.” Further signs of trouble appeared in 2013, with an airport maintenance worker noting “Large separation in blocks and shifting in blocks…Cracks in asphalt.”

Airport officials expressed their concerns to Triad and Cast immediately after noticing the problems with the EMAS, and they were essentially told not to worry about it. The airport continued to perform regular inspections of the EMAS, and they commissioned at least two engineering studies of it, both of which found that it had shifted by several feet.

Triad told airport officials that shifting/settlement of as much as 24 inches was “within normal range”, and up until March 11, 2015 – the day before the catastrophic landslide – Triad continued to maintain that the chances of a hillside collapse were “very slight”.  

The Runway 5 extension project at Yeager Airport was improperly designed, improperly tested, not properly inspected, and not properly monitored by Triad and the other contractors involved, and we are proud to have been part of the legal team that made sure these negligent contractors were held to account.

What is Contractor Negligence?

The Yeager Airport runway extension failure was an example of contractor negligence on a massive scale – it was a faulty construction project that went on for several years and caused millions of dollars in damage to those affected. But sadly, this was far from an isolated incident.  Contractor negligence happens all too often, and it is one of the major reasons there are multiple websites dedicated to contractor reviews and ratings.

Every residential and commercial property owner who undertakes a construction project runs the risk of faulty work being done, which can result in major property damage and personal injuries.  When you hire a professional contractor, you have the right to expect that all workers and subcontractors that are part of the project will be competent, well trained, and will perform their work and services with skill, care, and diligence. And when a contractor fails to live up to the reasonable duty of care owed to you and it results in damage to your structure and people getting hurt, those who suffer damages deserve to be fully compensated.

Some examples of contractor negligence that can result in compensable damages include:

  • Failure to obtain the required permits and licensing;
  • Negligent selection of workers and subcontractors;
  • Failure to properly train workers;
  • Failure to observe and follow all safety regulations;
  • Poor communication between workers and subcontractors;
  • Faulty project design;
  • Using substandard/faulty materials in an effort to cut costs;
  • Defective/faulty work;
  • Reckless or dangerous behavior at the job site;
  • Equipment accidents caused by negligent or reckless actions;
  • Overcharging or improperly charging for materials and services.

Have you Suffered Losses Due to Contractor Negligence in West Virginia? Call Bailey, Javins & Carter to Discuss your Case

If you or someone close to you has been injured or suffered property damage due to a negligent contractor in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins & Carter is here to help! Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.