West Virginia Pipeline Explosion Accidents Lawyer
Over the past century or so, America has built a vast network of pipelines that stretch over two and a half million miles and transport oil and gas throughout the country. Those in the energy industry prefer pipelines, because they are faster and more cost-efficient than transporting the gas or oil by train or truck. As West Virginia’s energy industry continues to thrive, pipelines are continually being built for the purpose of carrying oil and natural gas from the state’s large energy reserves to the eastern seaboard and other parts of the nation.
Though pipelines have their advantages over other means of transporting oil and gas, they do have a major downside. Carrying pressurized gas and volatile oil through underground pipes presents an inherent danger of pipeline explosion accidents. Pipelines explode far more often than most people realize. In recent years, there have been dozens of explosions and hundreds injured or killed in these types of accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a pipeline accident, you deserve to be fully compensated for your losses.
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we have stood up for workers in West Virginia for over 40 years. Our lawyers have a successful track record pursuing just compensation for workers in high-profile industries such as oil, gas and coal. We are nationally-recognized for our groundbreaking work in personal injury law, and we are not intimidated by well-funded adversaries who have powerful lobbies in this state.
When someone is injured in a pipeline explosion accident, it can be a devastating and life-changing experience for the victim and everyone in the household. Mounting medical bills combined with the inability to return to work for a while (and in some cases, not being able to return to work at all) can cause a major financial hardship. We understand the enormous physical, emotional, and financial toll these types of injuries take, and we fight hard to help ensure that our clients receive full and fair compensation, and that all parties responsible are held fully accountable.
What Causes Pipeline Explosion Accidents?
Pipeline accidents can result in very severe injuries and fatalities, including:
- Burn injuries
- Blunt force trauma
- Fractures/broken bones
- Amputations/loss of limbs
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Toxic substance exposure
- Wrongful death
There are a number of reasons pipeline explosions and other pipeline failures occur during gas transmission and gas distribution, some of the most common include:
- Excavation damage: Pipelines, particularly those used for gas distribution, are often placed in urban and suburban areas where there is a strong likelihood of future construction activity. This increases the chances of pipeline damage due to excavation.
- Material/welding/equipment failure: Faulty piping material, welding imperfections (due to poor workmanship or faulty design), and other equipment failures are all too common when pipelines are being built. These issues are another leading cause of explosions and other types of failures with pipelines.
- Incorrect operation: Also referred to as “human error”, incorrect operations are often the direct or indirect cause of a pipeline failure. Examples of incorrect operations include overfilling a tank, leaving the wrong valve open, over pressuring a piece of equipment, failure to perform routine maintenance, and many others. It is extremely important for energy companies to implement proper training and qualification programs to help minimize the chances of operator error.
- Corrosion: Another leading cause of pipeline explosions and other failures is corrosion. Corrosion is the deterioration of the pipeline that happens over time because of electrochemical reactions within the pipeline’s immediate surroundings.
- Outside force damage: Natural and other outside forces are another contributor to pipeline failures. Examples include heavy rain and mud slides, nearby accidents such as fires and explosions, vandalism, and sabotage.
Who is Responsible for Pipeline Explosion Accidents?
Pursuing compensation after being injured in a pipeline accident can be very complicated. There are several parties that could potentially be responsible for the incident; and determining which party (or parties) to go after requires an extensive investigation to uncover the root cause of the accident.
Parties that may be responsible for a pipeline failure include:
- The pipeline company: In many cases, the company that laid the pipeline is the party responsible when an explosion or another type of failure occurs. For example, a pipeline may rupture and cause an explosion because it was not inspected in a timely manner and/or it was not adequately maintained. If the pipeline company is responsible and you are an employee of the company, your first step would be to file a worker’s compensation claim with your employer. If you were injured by the blast and you are not employed by the company, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
- A third-party contractor: In many pipeline projects, several third-party contractors are hired to perform various tasks. Due to the complexity of the project and the various parties working nearby each other, things can get confused and mistakes can be made. One common mistake made by third-party contractors is not correctly marking the pipes or failing to mark them at all. If a third-party contractor is one of the responsible parties, any injured party may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against that party to recover damages.
- The pipeline manufacturer: As we touched on earlier, faulty designed or defective pipes can often play a role in a pipeline failure. When this occurs, it may be possible to file a product liability claim against the pipeline designer, manufacturer, and/or distributor.
- A construction company: Sometimes, construction projects are initiated too close to pipelines. During excavation, the negligence of a construction company may result in a pipeline break, leak or explosion. When this happens, the company may be held liable for the losses incurred by those who are injured in the pipeline accident.
Contact our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in Charleston
Pipeline explosions tend to catch everyone nearby off guard, often resulting in serious and catastrophic injuries. If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in a pipeline accident, you need strong legal counsel by your side to aggressively pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf. At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we work closely with our clients, putting our extensive experience to work to explore every potential legal avenue toward obtaining the most favorable outcome possible.
Call us today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 to schedule a free initial consultation and case assessment. You may also send us a message through our web contact form.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.