industrial chemical injuries attorney

5 Common Chemical Exposure Workplace Injuries

Throughout our everyday lives, we run the risk of coming in contact with harmful substances. We may be exposed to toxic chemicals due of mold or lead paint in our homes, contamination in the water we drink, and very often, dangerous toxins in the air we breathe. 

Another place where individuals are frequently exposed to dangerous chemicals is in the workplace. Toxic chemical exposure can happen in virtually any workplace setting, but there are some industries in which workers are more susceptible to this hazard. These include:

  • Industrial & Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Warehousing
  • Transportation
  • Oil and Gas
  • Construction
  • Railroad
  • Welding
  • Lumber
  • Agriculture
  • Healthcare

Many of the chemicals and other substances used frequently in these and other industries present a high risk of serious injury or death if workers are heavily exposed to them over an extended period of time. And although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has very strict standards to prevent this from happening, injuries from toxic chemical exposure still occur regularly in workplaces in West Virginia and throughout United States. This is mostly due to negligence or in some cases even willful actions on the part of employers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies the five most common substances that cause chemical exposure injuries at work. The vast majority of chemical injuries in the workplace result from exposure to one of these five toxic substances:

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas that is very difficult to detect and poses a major risk to workers in every industry. CO is produced every time a fossil fuel is burned, and those who are exposed to it in indoor and enclosed spaces can experience sudden illness or death.  Common symptoms of CO exposure include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, and general weakness, and high-level exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and eventual death. Because most equipment and machinery in the workplace requires fossil fuels, millions of workers are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ammonia

Ammonia is also a colorless gas, but it does have a distinct odor that is familiar to many people, making it easier to detect than carbon monoxide. Exposure to ammonia can cause irritation and severe burns on the skin, and also in the eyes, mouth, throat, and lungs. Higher levels of ammonia exposure can result in death. Ammonia is commonly used in agriculture as an ingredient in fertilizer, and in food manufacturing as a refrigerant, and a large percentage of chemical exposure workplace injuries (resulting from this substance) happen in these two industries.

Chlorine

Chlorine is a diverse substance that is used as an ingredient in thousands of industrial products. Chlorine is heavier than regular air, and it tends to accumulate at the bottom of areas that have poor ventilation. Chlorine is widely used in the paper and print manufacturing industries, as well as in entertainment and recreation as a substance placed in swimming pools and water parks.  Lower level exposure to chlorine can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat, and higher levels of exposure can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pains, vomiting, and death.

Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloride acid is a clear, colorless and highly corrosive substance that derives from hydrogen chloride in water. Hydrochloric acid is widely used in the manufacturing of fertilizers, dyes, rubber, and several other products. Exposure to unsafe levels of hydrochloride acid can cause permanent damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory organs, and intestines. The corrosive nature of the substance can also cause severe chemical burns when it comes in direct contact with the skin.

Sulfuric Acid

Sulfuric acid is another highly corrosive substance that is clear, colorless, and oily. Also known as battery acid, sulfuric acid is widely used in many industries, most commonly as an essential ingredient in fertilizer and as an integral part of the petroleum refining process. When sulfuric acid comes in contact with the skin, it can cause severe chemical and thermal burns. When it comes in contact with the eyes, it can cause blindness.

Suffered a Chemical Exposure Injury in the Workplace? Contact an Experienced Attorney to Discuss your Legal Options

If you or someone close to you suffered a workplace injury due to chemical exposure or any other cause, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating aggressively for your rights and interests. West Virginia workplace injury cases are highly complicated, because there are several potential legal avenues that may be available. For example, your injury may be covered by workers’ compensation, but you also may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if it was caused by a party other than your employer. In some rare cases, you may even be able to bring a personal injury action against your employer if it can be shown that your injury was caused by deliberate intent on their part.

To determine the right steps for your case, it is best to work with a seasoned attorney who thoroughly understands these areas of the law and has a successful track record with workplace injury actions. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have been standing up for the rights of West Virginia workers for over four decades. We have handled countless claims for chemical exposure injuries and all other types of injuries in the workplace, and we fight hard to recover every dollar of compensation our clients are entitled to.

Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Product Liability

3 Most Common Types of Product Liability Claims

Our economy is becoming increasingly complex with each passing year. And every year, countless new products are introduced to consumers. Unfortunately, many of these products are rushed to the market without proper testing and without addressing various flaws that could cause injury. Others encounter problems with production of the product that make the product more dangerous.

In a haste to quickly recover research and development costs, many companies put profits before people and put out products that are not safe for consumers. This results in hundreds of thousands of serious injuries throughout the country each year due to dangerous or defective products.

There are no federal product liability laws. Each state has its own set of laws, and product-related injury claims are brought in state courts. State laws require that a product meets a minimum standard of safety and quality. If a product maker knowingly or unknowingly puts an unsafe product in the hands of the public, they can be held liable for damages. 

In West Virginia, product liability claims can be brought under the legal theories of negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. These three theories require different elements of proof, and in some cases, a claim could be submitted using two or three of these theories simultaneously.

Negligence

The main elements of a product liability claim based on negligence include:

  • The product producer owed a duty of care to the consumer to design, manufacture, and deliver a safe product;
  • Because the product was defective in some way, the defendant breached this duty of care;
  • The plaintiff suffered injury;
  • The defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

Negligence is a valid cause of action in many product liability cases. However, the theories of strict liability and breach of warranty are more commonly used with these types of cases.

Strict Liability

Strict liability is the preferred legal theory in product liability cases, because it removes the burden of proving that the defendant was negligent. Instead, you only need to prove that the product was defective in some way and the product defect resulted in the plaintiff’s injury.  Because this theory focuses on the defect in the product rather than the conduct of the defendant, a strict liability claim can be brought against any party in the product supply chain.

There are three general types of product defect claims (that are usually brought under the theory of strict liability):

  • Design Defects: Products are supposed to be designed in a manner that is “reasonably safe for its intended use.” If a product design is defective or inherently dangerous and a design flaw resulted in the plaintiff’s injury, the defendant may be held liable. One common example of a defective design is a vehicle with a high center of gravity that overturns easily at higher speeds and under heavy winds.
  • Manufacturing Defects: These are products that are designed correctly, but there is an error in the manufacturing process that makes the product unsafe for consumers. Using the vehicle example again, a manufacturing defect might occur if the vehicle is missing its brake pads, resulting in a crash.
  • Use Defects: These are failures to adequately warn consumers about dangers in how a product is used. For example, if a cough syrup was correctly made and generally safe, but the label did not adequately warn consumers that mixing it with aspirin could cause dangerous side effects, a product liability claim could be brought based on failure to warn.

Breach of Warranty

This theory is based on the promise or guarantee that a product makes about how it will act or perform. Warranties may be explicit or implied, and the warranty may be limited to a specified period of time or it may be a lifetime guarantee. In general, a person does not need to have been a party to the original warranty to have standing to sue for breach of warranty, and a claim can be brought against any party in the product supply chain.

Injured by a Dangerous or Defective Product in West Virginia? Contact a Seasoned Product Liability Lawyer

Product liability claims can turn into complicated legal actions. Most product makers have expensive legal teams on retainer that are ready to aggressively defend their client. For this reason, it is important to have a strong legal advocate in your corner fighting hard to ensure that you receive the just compensation you deserve, and that those responsible for the product defect that caused your injuries are held fully accountable.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have stood up for the consumers of West Virginia for over 40 years. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and we have successfully pursued countless product liability claims on behalf of our clients. To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or message us through our web contact form.

Personal Injury

What is Causing my Neck & Back Pain after an Accident?

Car accidents can result in property damage and physical injuries to those involved. Some injuries are easily identifiable, such as cuts, bruises, fractures, and other injuries that cause immediate pain. There are other times, however, when auto accident injuries are not readily apparent. This is more common with motor vehicle accidents that cause minor property damage, also known as “fender benders.”

When a low-impact auto accident occurs, many people view it as an inconvenience, something that has to be dealt with, but something they do not want to waste too much time on. So, you exchange phone numbers and insurance information with the other party, head home, fix any minor damage to your vehicle, and try to forget the whole thing.

A few hours after you get home or maybe even a couple days later, you start to feel pain in your neck and lower back. You are not sure what it is and where it came from, but you believe it might be related to the accident you are just in.

Why Some Accident Injuries are Delayed

It is important to understand that some symptoms of an auto accident do not show up immediately. This is often due to the adrenaline rush people typically experience after they are involved in a collision. Colliding with another vehicle causes an immediate state change.  Suddenly, your heart beats faster, your mind starts racing, and you are solely focused on handling the situation. The adrenaline often masks the pain of certain injuries until well after the accident is over.

What is Causing my Neck and Back Pain after a Car Crash?

If back and neck pain show up soon after an auto accident, these symptoms should not be ignored. This could be a sign of whiplash, a sprain or strain in the neck that can cause moderate to severe symptoms depending on each individual case. The effects of a whiplash injury can last for just a few weeks in minor cases, but it more serious cases, the affects can last several months or even several years. 

Whiplash is fairly common even with minor vehicle accidents, especially rear-end collisions. The impact of the collision throws the body rapidly back and forth, similar to the motion of a horse whip. Occupants of the vehicle that was collided into without warning are particularly susceptible to whiplash, because they did not see the collision coming and did not have time to brace for it.

In addition to general neck and back pain, there are several other symptoms that may be associated with a whiplash injury:

  • Neck and back stiffness;
  • Severe headaches;
  • Limited range of motion in the neck;
  • An increase in pain with neck movement;
  • Tingling or numbness in the shoulders and arms;
  • Pain or tenderness in the shoulders and arms;
  • Dizziness and blurred vision;
  • Problems with memory, focus and concentration;
  • Anxiety and difficulty sleeping.

Neck and back pain may be a sign of whiplash, but it can also be a sign of a herniated disc or spinal injury, or multiple injuries. A qualified medical professional will be able to correctly diagnose your condition and ensure that it is properly treated.

It’s Just Minor and Neck and Back Pain: Do I Still need to Go to the Doctor?

The short answer is “yes” and do so as soon as possible. Back and neck pain often starts out as a minor annoyance, but it can become more serious as time goes on. And whatever the degree of severity, the injury associated with your pain is not going to go away on its own.

Another important reason to get medical treatment right away is to help ensure that you are able to recover compensation for your injuries. If you wait too long, you will have increasing difficulty getting the insurance company to pay your injury claim is they will often argue that the delayed symptoms and further delay getting them treated shows that they are not related to the accident at all. By getting medical attention immediately, it will be easier to establish a legal connection between the accident and the injury, and you will also be able to show that you did everything you could to mitigate the effects of your injury.

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

If you or a loved one suffered neck and back pain or any other type of injury in an auto accident that was the fault of another party, you deserve to be compensated. Seek medical treatment right away for your injuries, then contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. to discuss your legal rights and options. For over 40 years, we have successfully represented clients injured in motor vehicle accidents and those who have suffered all other types of personal injuries in West Virginia. We work closely with our clients, putting our extensive experience to work to obtain full and fair compensation and to ensure that those responsible for your injuries are held fully accountable.  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.

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.