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 One area in which they accomplish this is by using old, outdated, poorly maintained, and faulty drilling equipment.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.

Yeager Airport Landslide lawsuit

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.

Gas Drilling Safety

Safety on Gas Drilling Platforms in West Virginia

The West Virginia oil & gas industry is booming. In recent years, thousands of new jobs have been created for workers in the Mountain State, and the industry has become a vital part of our state’s economy. As the energy industry grows, however, is more important than ever for companies to ensure that those who work for them stay safe.

Drilling for gas and oil is not only a dirty job, it is also one of the most dangerous and potentially deadly. There are numerous hazards that those who work on the drilling platforms must watch out for on a daily basis. Here are some of the most common:

  • Fires and explosions: Oil and gas workers are around flammable substances all day long; such as gases, vapors, and hydrogen sulfide. Workers face a higher risk of explosions and fires when one of these substances ignites.
  • Falls: For a major portion of their day, many workers are required to access platforms and equipment that are located in high elevations. These areas often contain sticky in slippery substances, making workers more susceptible to falls that can result in serious injuries.
  • Struck by/caught in-between accidents: Approximately 60% of all fatalities among oil and gas extraction industry workers happen because of struck by/caught in-between events. This can happen because of falling equipment, materials, or debris, moving equipment around, high pressure lines, and many other hazards.
  • Machine hazards: Those in the industry frequently work with many different types of heavy machinery and equipment; such as wellhead equipment, pumps, compressors, conveyors, and many others. When this machinery malfunctions, the results can be catastrophic.
  • Vehicle collisions: Workers move a lot of materials and equipment around from one drilling site to another, and many of these sites are located in remote areas that often require drivers to navigate winding, hilly, and mountainous terrain. Many industry fatalities result from vehicle crashes while workers are in transit.

Injured in a Gas Drilling Accident in West Virginia? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney

Safety on gas drilling platforms should be of paramount concern for energy companies. Sadly, many of them have put profits before people, at the expense of their most valuable asset; their workers. If you or a loved one has been injured while working on a gas drilling platform, you have the right to compensation.

Compensation may come in the form of workers’ compensation benefits, a product liability claim, a personal injury lawsuit, or another legal avenue. These types of cases can be highly complex, and it is absolutely essential to work with attorneys who have extensive experience in this area of the law, and the proven ability to recover full and fair compensation on behalf of their clients.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have been standing up for workers in West Virginia for over 40 years, and we have successfully handled some of the most complicated cases against powerful industries such as oil and gas companies and coal mining companies. We can meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you of your rights and legal options.

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

Personal Injury

4 Secrets to Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured through no fault of your own and you have quantifiable losses, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. Unfortunately, in most cases, the party responsible for your injury is not likely to freely admit fault and write out a check to cover all of your damages. In fact, you probably won’t be dealing with the other party at all. More likely, you will be dealing with their insurance company.

Recovering compensation from an insurer can be very challenging if you go it alone, especially if you are not familiar with the process. Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators, and their primary obligation is to protect their employer’s bottom line. Since the adjuster’s interests are not aligned with yours, it is best to have skilled legal counsel in your corner working tirelessly to protect your interests.

Not all attorneys are the same and choosing the right personal injury lawyer can also be a challenge. There are many out there to pick from, and there is a lot of information to sift through. 

Here are four secrets to hiring a personal injury attorney:

Choose an Attorney with Extensive Knowledge of Personal Injury Law

Personal injury is a complex area of law that involves many highly specialized rules and practices. There are many lawyers and law practices that do personal injury, as well as several other areas, such as family law, criminal law, bankruptcy, and many others. An attorney that is more of a general practitioner (or you might say “jack of all trades”) may be able to effectively handle some less complicated personal injury cases, such as a two-vehicle fender-bender with minor vehicle damage and minor injuries. However, they may have trouble with the more complex cases, such as a multi-vehicle trucking accident where there could be several responsible parties, or a workplace accident in the oil fields or coal mines of West Virginia. To ensure that you have full confidence your attorney can handle the complexities that may come up with your case, it is best to choose one whose major area of focus is personal injury.

Find out What kind of Reputation the Attorney has in their State and Community

If your lawyer specializes in personal injury law and they have practiced for any length of time, they should be fairly well-known in their state and community and have a solid reputation. In fact, if you can find an attorney who has been part of some groundbreaking litigation or who has partnered with governing agencies (such as the state attorney general) to hold wrongdoers fully accountable for their negligence and reckless actions, this is even better. Bottom line: make sure the attorney you choose is highly reputable and someone you can trust to represent your interests.

Choose an Attorney with the Resources and Commitment to Successfully Pursue your Case

Most personal injury cases do not go to trial, and in general, that is the best outcome for everyone involved. Litigation is costly and can drag on for a while, so if you can reach a reasonable settlement with the other side, you can get paid more quickly and move forward with your life. All that said, your lawyer should have the ability, willingness, and wherewithal to take the case to trial when necessary. Some personal injury lawyers never see the inside of a courtroom. For some, their whole business model is built on volume, bringing as many cases as they can through the door and settling every one of them as quickly as possible. If the other side knows that you are never going to go to trial, you lose an enormous amount of leverage during negotiations. This will almost certainly result in a settlement that is far less than your case is worth. Find out how much trial experience your personal injury attorney has, and be sure they also have relationships with other top professionals who they can bring in as expert witnesses (when necessary) to testify at trial and help substantiate your claim.

Choose an Attorney with a Proven Track Record of Results

At the end of the day, what really matters is the result your attorney is able to deliver. Ask about other cases like yours that they have pursued, their record at trial with these types of cases, and what types of verdicts and settlements they have been able to secure. If the attorney has a successful track record with previous cases like yours, you can be more confident in knowing that they have the ability to secure a favorable result for you as well.

Speak with the Seasoned Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.

If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer in West Virginia that meets all of the aforementioned qualifications, look no further than Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. At BJC, we have over 40 years of experience successfully representing clients in all types of personal injury cases in the Mountain State. We work closely with our clients, putting our in-depth experience to work to provide the strong personalized representation they 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.

Causes of Drilling Accidents

Causes of Drilling Accidents

In the past decade or so, West Virginia has experienced a boom in its oil and natural gas industry. The Marcellus Shale and other vast reserves have made the Mountain State a major player in America’s energy renaissance. This boom has prompted major investments from large energy companies, bringing thousands of new jobs to our state.

There is a major downside to this boom, however. With these new oil and gas rig drilling jobs, we have seen a significant increase in workplace injuries and fatalities. Powerful and dangerous equipment is used to drill for oil and natural gas, and when steps are not taken to secure the safety of those working on this equipment, it can result in disastrous consequences.

What Causes Gas Rig Drilling Accidents?

Gas rig drilling accidents are becoming increasingly common in the natural gas and oil fields in West Virginia. Some of the accidents that most frequently occur include:

  • Fires and Explosions (e.g., gas well explosions, pipeline explosions, etc.)
  • Electrical Injuries
  • Slips and Falls
  • Being Struck by Loose Objects or Debris
  • Being Struck Against a Hard Surface
  • Being Trapped in a Tight Space
  • Transportation Accidents
  • Rig Collapses
  • Exposure to Toxic Substances

There are many reasons gas rig drilling accidents occur, here are some of the most common:

  • Inexperienced or Poorly-Trained Workers: During boom times like what we are currently experiencing in West Virginia, energy companies need to hire far more employees. Oftentimes, those they hire lack industry experience, and companies do not take the necessary time to train their employees properly.
  • Failure to Implement/Follow Proper Workplace Safety Procedures: Employers in the energy industry are required to take reasonable steps to provide a safe and healthy work environment. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has various safety regulations in place that companies must follow. When energy companies fail in their duty to properly protect their workers, these workers become exposed to numerous potential hazards.
  • Worker Negligence: Many drilling accidents are caused by coworkers and third-party subcontractors working alongside energy company employees who make critical mistakes on the job. This problem is made worse when workers are asked to put in long hours that make them tired and fatigued. Some workers deal with this stress by turning to alcohol and drugs, which also negatively impacts their job performance.
  • Poorly Maintained Equipment: One of the ways energy companies are supposed to keep their workers safe is by using equipment that is properly maintained. Unfortunately, much of the equipment used is old, outdated, worn out, and difficult to work with.
  • Defective Equipment: Related to the last point, some of the machinery and equipment that is used in the oil and gas industry is defective. When certain pieces of equipment have product defects, they can malfunction at the wrong time, causing workers to become injured.

What can be Done about Gas Rig Drilling Accidents?

With oil and gas worker accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the rise, energy companies must do far more (than they are currently doing) to protect their employees. Companies must help foster a culture of safety by implementing better engineering controls, worker training, and workplace practices along with the use of the most up-to-date protective equipment to provide workers with a safer environment in which to do their jobs.

Injured in a Drilling Accident in West Virginia? Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a drilling accident, you have a right to compensation. This may be through your employer’s workers’ compensation policy, a personal injury lawsuit, a product liability claim, or another legal avenue. Recovering full and fair compensation can be difficult, however, because energy companies use various tactics to avoid paying compensation to their injured employees. For this reason, it is important to have strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your legal rights and interests.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have over four decades of experience standing up for the working people of West Virginia. We have successfully handled countless claims against well-funded adversaries, such as the mining and energy companies that have powerful lobbies in our state. We work closely with our clients to thoroughly investigate their claim and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering the just compensation they need and deserve.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our web contact form.