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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.

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.

Truck Accident Attorneys - Bailey Javins & Carter

Accidents with Poorly Loaded Trucks

Trucking accidents are some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. Thousands of individuals are killed each year in accidents involving commercial trucks, and the vast majority of those killed are occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who are involved in these incidents. There are numerous reasons 18-wheeler accidents occur, and with many of these accidents, there are several contributing factors.

For example, an accident may occur because the truck driver is too close to the vehicle in front of them and unable to stop in time to avoid a crash when the other vehicle slowed down. However, upon further investigation, we may learn that the brake lines were faulty, which shortened the truck’s braking distance. We may also learn that the driver was tired and not paying close enough attention to the vehicle in front of them because they were on the road for too long.

Some of the most serious trucking accidents are caused by overloaded trucks or trucks with unevenly loaded cargo. Loaded commercial trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more. And when they are overloaded or poorly loaded, they can create all kinds of hazards, such as:

  • Cargo falling out of the truck and striking other vehicles or individuals nearby;
  • Putting extra strain on key truck parts, such as the frame, suspension, springs, brakes, and tires;
  • Increased risk of jackknifing, tipping, or decoupling.

Last August, a semi-truck carrying 40,000 pounds of Hershey products rolled unto its side while traveling on Interstate 470 in Ohio County, WV. The accident resulted in hundreds of pounds of sweet treats being dumped onto the road. Thankfully, no one was hurt when the truck was tipped to its side, but this is an example of what can happen with poorly loaded trucks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the Cargo Securement Rules for commercial vehicles. These rules state the following:

Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these.

Unfortunately, FMCSA standards are not always followed when trucks are loaded. Drivers and shipping companies are typically working under very tight (and often unrealistic) deadlines. This puts pressure on those loading the trucks to complete this task promptly. Trucks may also be loaded beyond their allowed weight limits when shippers are trying to consolidate more cargo into one load in order to save money.

How Poorly Loaded Trucks Can Cause Big-Rig Accidents

Overloaded trucks or imbalanced loads are often one of the hidden causes of a trucking accident. For example, jackknifing, tipping, and decoupling can happen for a number of reasons, such as ice, heavy winds, and other types of inclement weather. However, overweight trucks or poorly balanced loads can contribute to this situation.

Those who drive passenger vehicles probably do not think much about weight distribution most of the time, but it makes a big difference with an 18-wheeler. As mentioned earlier, a fully-loaded big-rig truck typically carries upwards of 80,000 pounds or more. A truck with too much weight or a truck with a poorly balanced load is much more difficult to handle even under the best of conditions. But when these trucks start driving up curvy, winding, mountain roads like what we have here in West Virginia, sometimes all it takes is a moderate gust of wind and/or a little bit of rain or ice to create an accident.

Injured in a Truck Accident in West Virginia? Contact a Nationally-Recognized Personal Injury Attorney

Accidents with commercial trucks can be highly complex cases because there are typically multiple contributing factors and several parties that could potentially be responsible. To get to the bottom of what happened, a thorough investigation is required, and this should be headed up by attorneys who thoroughly understand this area of the law and what it takes to recover full and fair compensation in these types of cases.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in trucking accidents and all other types of personal injuries. We have over four decades of experience, and we have been highly acclaimed not only for our experience and skill, but also for our client-centered focus and our tireless commitment to providing the strong personalized representation our clients deserve. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, contact our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our online contact form.