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 One area in which they accomplish this is by using old, outdated, poorly maintained, and faulty drilling equipment.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

Winter Driving Accidents

Avoiding Winter Auto Accidents in West Virginia

Recently, a charter van carrying members of the Martinsburg High School girls basketball team rolled over while traveling on Interstate 64 in East Beckley, West Virginia. As the van entered the interstate on a sharp left-hand curve, it reportedly veered off onto the right-hand side of the road and overturned. The crash is still under investigation, but poor lighting on the interstate, road construction, and lack of familiarity with the road are believed to be contributing factors.

There were 12 students and two adults in the van, and thankfully, no one was seriously injured.

We are all very relieved that everyone involved in this accident appears to be okay. But unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident. According to the Mountaineer News Service, West Virginia has a higher fatality rate from auto accidents than the national average. In the Mountain State, the number of car crash fatalities is 14.7 per 100,000 individuals. This is not only well above the national average, it is higher than surrounding states such as Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

There are many factors that contribute to West Virginia’s high auto accident fatality rate, these include:

  • The mountainous terrain that is characteristic of the state;
  • The numerous narrow and winding roads that are spread throughout the state;
  • The high number of rural areas in the Mountain State;
  • The high number of roads (throughout the state) that are poorly maintained;
  • The high rates of driver negligence (e.g., speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, etc.) and impaired driving;
  • Poor driving conditions, especially during the winter.

Tips for Safe Winter Driving in West Virginia

Even for the most experienced motorists, driving in West Virginia winter weather is a major challenge. In the mountainous regions, it is not uncommon to receive over 150 inches of snow during a typical winter. Even in the low-lying areas, you can expect to deal with several storm systems that deliver freezing rain, sleet, and snow throughout the season. Whatever part of the state you live in, it is important to be prepared for adverse winter driving conditions.

When the driving conditions are poor, it is best to stay off of the roads until conditions improve if at all possible. If you need to drive during inclement weather, however, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Monitor your Tire Tread and Tire Pressure: Before you go out in poor weather, there are a few things you should take care of with your vehicle to make sure it is ready. One of the first is to check the tread and pressure on your tires. Be sure your tires have plenty of tread, and that they are inflated to the proper levels. If your tires are worn and there is very little tread left, there is a greater chance of slipping and sliding (or even having a blowout) if you hit ice or snow. If you have the budget, you may also want to consider investing in snow tires for the winter.
  • Check your Battery: The last thing you want to happen is to get stranded in a remote area because of a dead battery. Check out your battery to make sure it has plenty of charge, and just in case, be sure to keep a set of jumper cables along with other emergency items in your vehicle.
  • Check your Wipers and Washer Fluids: When rain or snow hits, you need to have wiper blades that are in good working order, as well as plenty of washer fluid. If your wiper blades are worn, replace them. Also, top off your washer fluid before going out and consider keeping extra washer fluid in your vehicle in case you need it.
  • Clear the Snow Off of Your Vehicle: If you are going out after a snowstorm, make sure to clear all the snow off of your vehicle. Otherwise, this could cause visibility problems when you are driving.
  • Drive Slowly: The best approach when driving in snowy and/or icy weather is to proceed slowly. The slower you are driving, the better you will be able to handle adverse conditions that may come up. It is generally best to drive below 45 miles per hour when you encounter snow or ice on the road.
  • Keep a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles: Allow plenty of extra space between you and other vehicles on the road when there is freezing rain, snow, and similar conditions so you have enough time to slow down or stop if the vehicle in front of you starts to slide.
  • Know How to Drive on Ice: If you are driving at a safe speed, it will be much easier to maintain control if your vehicle starts to skid or slide. If this happens, do not panic. Avoid slamming on your brakes as this can make existing slides worse. Turn your front wheels the same direction that the rear of your vehicle is sliding (this is commonly known as “turning into the slide”). While doing this, however, do NOT overcorrect with your turn as this can cause the vehicle to start rotating faster than the steer can counter, resulting in a spin out. This video provides a good explanation on how to do this properly.

Injured in a Car Accident in West Virginia? Secure your Legal Rights

Driving during winter weather in West Virginia is difficult, and sometimes, you may do everything right and still end up in an accident. If you or someone close to you was injured in a winter driving accident and it was the fault of another party, you have a right to compensation.  When this happens, seek immediate medical attention, then contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.  At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have over 40 years of experience representing clients injured in motor vehicle accidents in West Virginia. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex cases. 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 online contact form.

Concussion Complications - Bailey Javins & Carter

Second Impact Syndrome and other Concussion Complications

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is considered by many medical professionals to be a milder form of TBI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussions are “caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”

The effects of a concussion are usually temporary, and signs and symptoms may include:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Headaches or head pressure
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Irritability
  • Mood and personality changes

Some symptoms of a concussion may surface immediately, while others may take a few hours or even a few days or longer to develop.

Although a concussion may be considered “mild” compared to other forms of TBI, there are serious complications that can result from this type of injury. The Mayo Clinic lists several potential concussion complications:

  • Post-Traumatic Headaches: Some concussion sufferers experience ongoing headaches for as long as a few months after the injury occurs.
  • Post-Traumatic Vertigo: Dizziness or a sense that your head is spinning around can continue for as long as a few months after the injury.
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome: Headaches, dizziness, trouble thinking clearly/confusion, and other concussion symptoms can continue for several weeks or months after the injury occurs.
  • Cumulative Affects of Multiple Brain Injuries: The Mayo Clinic says, “it’s possible that some people who have had one or more traumatic brain injuries over the course of their lives are at greater risk of developing lasting, possibly progressive, impairment that limits function. This is an area of active research.”
  • Second-Impact Syndrome (SIS): This is a rare condition in which an individual suffers a second concussion before their first concussion has fully healed. When this occurs, it can cause rapid and severe brain swelling, and in many cases, the results can be swift and fatal.

The Dangers of Second-Impact Syndrome

Although SIS is a rare condition, it is more common among certain sectors of the population, such as athletes. That said, second-impact syndrome can happen to anyone who sustains multiple concussions within a short period of time. For example, if someone was unfortunate enough to be involved in two high-impact vehicle crashes within a few days of each other, they may be at risk for SIS.

Second-impact syndrome occurs most often with younger athletes (typically around high school age) who play high-impact sports. Although SIS is rare, some of the factors that contribute to this injury among young athletes are not. For example, it is not unusual for an athlete (who is in the midst of an adrenaline rush) not to notice a head injury and continue to play. As an aside, it is common for those involved in motor vehicle accidents to experience this same type of adrenaline rush, which may cause them not to notice various injuries until later on.

Even if the athlete feels the effects of a head injury, they may not think it is all that serious, so they don’t report it to a coach or parent. There may also be pressure put on the athlete (internally or externally) to continue playing in spite of the injury. The risk of second-impact syndrome and the depth of information now being learned about the cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries are major reasons the National Football League (NFL) now uses a concussion protocol.

To prevent second-impact syndrome from occurring and to minimize other concussion complications, it is important for those who experience any type of head trauma due to an accident or from playing sports to be examined right away by a qualified medical professional. It is also important to do everything possible to avoid another bump, jolt, or blow to the head while they are recovering from their current injury.

Suffered a Head Injury? Contact a Seasoned West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has suffered a concussion or another form of traumatic brain injury and another party may have been responsible, it is important for you to understand your rights and legal options. For skilled legal guidance with all types of personal injuries in West Virginia, call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form.