Rebuilding Your Life After An Industrial Accident

League City Refinery & Plant Explosion lawyers

Large-scale industrial accidents can cause serious injuries and deaths.

Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers has spent over 40 years handling injury and death claims that have occurred in Texas refineries and chemical plants.

Through the representation of the USW 13-1 and its predecessors, Burwell Nebout plant explosion lawyers have personally been on-site in all of the major refineries and plants in the Texas Gulf Coast Region.

We have first-hand knowledge of how these units operate and the jobs performed by the operators and trade crafts. Since 1970, Burwell Nebout has been involved in all the major explosions in the Texas Gulf Coast region. Burwell Nebout and its team of experts are capable of analyzing root cause analysis and all other associated investigations to determine the operational errors that result in significant injuries from industrial accidents and explosions. Our lawyers have handled injury and death claims against all the major refineries and chemical plants in Texas City, Pasadena and Baytown.

Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers, our plant explosion lawyers provide legal representation for victims of industrial explosions and petrochemical accidents throughout Texas, including Texas City, Pasadena, Baytown, Beaumont and the Greater Houston area.

The Refinery & Chemical Plant Industry in Texas

The refineries and chemical plants in the Gulf Coast region lead the US in oil production and chemical manufacturing. In 2020, Texas alone accounted for 43 percent of U.S. crude oil production. The 31 petroleum refineries in Texas can process almost six million barrels of crude oil per day, which was 31 percent of the nation’s refining capacity as of January 2020. Half of this production is generated by Houston-area refineries.

The basic chemical manufacturing industry, including the production of petrochemicals, is more concentrated in the Houston area than anywhere in the world. From 2010 to 2016, petrochemical production jobs in Texas increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2016, at which time 67 percent of all U.S. petrochemical production jobs were in Texas. Powered by its oil and chemical production industry, Houston accounts for one-quarter of the state’s jobs and nearly a third of its economy.

Refinery & Chemical Plant Explosions

While the industry supplies jobs and boosts our economy, chemical plants and refineries carry a high risk of catastrophic accidents and explosions. The combination of volatile chemicals and complicated processes prone to human error can lead to catastrophic consequences. Plant workers are at a heightened risk of injury and/or death, and the accidental release of chemicals and toxins into the surrounding air and water can put nearby residents at risk as well.

Sadly, many of the worst accidents that happen at chemical plants and refineries are the result of human error, or otherwise preventable. While various government agencies regulate the safety measures that must be taken, these regulations are not always followed. Occasionally safety measures are ignored, or routine maintenance not completed, in favor of cutting costs. Perhaps employees have not been properly trained on precautions or emergency preparedness. When companies fail to comply with required or reasonable safety measures and accidents happen, they may be liable. Speaking with a Texas plant explosion attorney is the easiest way to understand your rights, and file a claim if applicable.

Examples Of Cases Of Refinery and Plant Accidents Handled By Our League City Plant Explosion Attorneys

OSHA regulations require employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Failure to comply with OSHA requirements can lead to work-related injuries and death.

The following notable plant and refinery accidents resulted in multiple claims of negligence and in some cases, the recovery of significant compensation by victims with the help of our refinery & plant explosion lawyers:

BP Refinery Explosion—Texas City, March 23, 2005

  • A hydrocarbon vapor cloud ignited and exploded, killing 15 people and injuring 180. Technical and organizational failings at BP were blamed in subsequent reports. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) cited underlying and significant cultural, human factors, and organizational causes in contributing to the explosion. Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers lead this litigation serving in the capacity of liaison counsel for the entire litigation.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig – April 20, 2010

  • Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010 killing 11 people and resulting in the largest environmental accident in the world. BP admitted that its policies, procedures and employees resulted in the explosion. Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers represented over 2,000 individuals and businesses for their loss as a result of the explosion. Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers was one of the selected Texas firms to participate in the template for establishing the claims program.

Invista Chemical Plant – 2013

  • Heat exchanger explosion at the Invista chemical plant in Victoria, Texas resulting in significant injuries of 5 contractors. Invista admitted that its policies, procedures and employees resulted in the explosion. Despite attempts to avoid responsibility pursuant to Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, our plant explosion lawyers were able to obtain a substantial settlement for the contractors.

Valero Refinery Explosion – April 2018

  • HF Alkylation unit was operated with piping that was below minimum thickness standards. Policies and procedures indicated that the piping was well past expiration. Deficient piping in the main feed line resulted in three simultaneous explosions. The contractor present suffered serious and permanent injuries.

Common Causes of Accidents at a Chemical, Gas, or Oil Plant

Plant and refinery explosions are rarely caused by events outside of human control. Even in the case of natural disasters, such as flooding caused by a hurricane, later investigation typically uncovers multiple factors that contributed to the incident or severity of the explosion. Some of the most common causes of accidents include:

Improper training

Workers should be taught the correct way to operate machinery and equipment, the correct protective gear to wear, and the hazards associated with the substances they are in contact with. Workers should also be trained in actions to take in the case of emergency to prevent escalation and to save lives. Failure to properly train employees or to provide appropriate, well-fitting personal protective equipment, can result in liability for accidents.

Equipment failure

One cause of explosions is machines or equipment that have been improperly maintained. The time and resources required to properly maintain high-tech equipment are sometimes neglected in favor of cutting costs. Weaknesses in equipment caused by the lack of proper maintenance are not always visible, such as corrosion, which makes critical the need for scheduled, routine maintenance to prevent unseen problems. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains guidelines for workplace safety, and even minor deviations can create liability for businesses.

Human Error

Even with appropriate training and protective equipment, human error occurs. Failing to follow proper safety guidelines, perform required maintenance, or operate machinery correctly all contribute to the incidence and severity of accidents and explosions.

Manufacturing Defects and Impure Chemicals

Equipment that is defective by design or due to manufacturing flaws may cause or contribute to plant explosions. Chemicals that are not pure can also lead to unexpected reactions, increasing the risk of fire and explosion.

Many times, a comprehensive investigation reveals the cause of an explosion to be a combination of multiple factors. If you have been involved in any type of plant explosion, it is critical to seek the advice of a lawyer with experience in these types of accidents so that the appropriate parties can be identified and held legally responsible.

Injuries and Repercussions of Plant & Refinery Explosions

Plant and refinery explosions can cause severe and wide-ranging injuries. In some cases, such as chemical exposure or brain injury, symptoms may appear over time or not at all. If you have been involved in or near any accident or explosion involving a chemical plant or refinery, it is critical to seek an immediate and comprehensive medical evaluation and then the advice of a lawyer with experience in these types of injuries.

Notably, you do not have to be a worker at the site of the incident to claim damages. If you were in the vicinity of a plant or refinery explosion and experience any of the following injuries, contact a League City Plant & Refinery Explosion lawyer today.

  • Burn Injuries. These are some of the most common to occur in refinery and plant explosions because of the amount and volatility of chemicals and the complex processes involved.
  • Chemical Exposure. Toxic chemicals that enter the body can cause immediate damage and symptoms, or in chronic exposure, produce long-term effects that may not be apparent until years after the exposure. Chemicals can be inhaled, ingested, or enter the body through the skin and cause local effects, and/or contaminate the bloodstream and cause systemic poisoning throughout the body.
  • Brain Injuries. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a blow to the head or body that shakes or jars the brain, such as blunt force trauma from an explosion. The brain can also be injured when it is deprived of oxygen or exposed to certain dangerous substances. The symptoms of a brain injury may appear immediately or can develop over time, or not at all. Even mild brain injury is still a serious injury that requires immediate medical attention and an accurate diagnosis.

Other injuries that may result from a plant or refinery explosion include:

  • Orthopedic injuries, including broken bones, amputation, and/or loss of mobility;
  • Respiratory system injuries, including breathing and lung conditions;
  • Back and neck pain;
  • Vision impairment;
  • Headaches, dizziness, or other neurological effects; and
  • Wrongful death.

If you have been involved in or near a plant or refinery explosion, you must seek medical care and consult with an experienced workplace injury lawyer. Our plant explosion lawyers can help you get the comprehensive medical examination and treatment you need and develop a strategy to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes an explosion at a plant or refinery?

Human error is one of the most common causes of these accidents, including improper training, failure to follow safety procedures, and improper operation or maintenance of machinery and equipment. Other causes include manufacturing defects, equipment failures, and unpredictable chemical reactions sometimes caused by impure or mishandled chemicals.

Can I sue after a workplace explosion?

In general, receiving workers’ compensation can limit your ability to recover additional damages against the employer, although other parties may be found liable. If your employer elected not to carry workers’ compensation, you are more likely to have the right to sue your employer. As with any personal injury claim, your ability to recover damages depends on your specific circumstances and the effectiveness of your legal counsel.

Do I need a lawyer after a plant or injury explosion?

Workers’ compensation may pay medical expenses and lost income following a plant or refinery accident. If you were injured as the result of negligence, whether human error or defective machinery or equipment, or if you did not receive workers’ compensation, you may be able to seek additional compensation. An experienced industrial accident lawyer can examine your circumstances and help you pursue further compensation for your injuries, including for pain and suffering.

My loved one was killed in a plant explosion. Can I sue?

While no compensation can replace your loved one, our compassionate League City wrongful death attorneys have helped numerous families recover damages and move forward. If you have lost a loved one in a plant or refinery accident, contact us for a free consultation today. We can help you navigate the legal process so that you can focus on your family.

Should I accept a settlement after a workplace explosion?

It is important to seek the advice of an experienced plant and refinery explosion lawyer before you accept any settlement or sign anything related to the accident. Workers’ compensation provides the bare minimum of compensation for your accident; if your accident was the result of negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim for additional compensation. Our skilled attorneys will look at the facts of your case and make sure you understand your rights and options so that you can make the best decision for you and your loved ones.

Plant Explosion Attorneys Rebuilding Lives One Case at a Time

At Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers, we provide grieving families and victims of industrial explosions and petrochemical industry accidents with a way to hold companies accountable for negligence. Our legal team will work with you to determine the most effective strategies and will pursue your claims in and out of court to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your case.

We will help you achieve a measure of closure after a serious injury or personal loss, and we will be on your side through every step of the legal process.

We’re on your side. Contact us at (281) 645-5000 or email our team to schedule a free consultation with one of our League City plant explosion lawyers.

Burwell Nebout Trail Lawyers Team

Featured Case

FELA/Worker Injury

A 15-year machinist for Union Pacific Railroad was injured when a locomotive coupled into his blue flagged locomotive in the diesel shop at Union Pacific’s Houston facility. Although the machinist failed to engage the shop derails and acknowledge the track alarm, the contention was that Union Pacific employee took one minute and forty-four second water break during a walk around prior to the coupling.

During this water break, the machinist blue flagged his locomotive and began working. Burwell Nebout filed suit against Union Pacific Railroad in Harris County. After a two-week trial in the 157th District Court in Harris County, the jury awarded the machinist $566,105. The jury determined that Union Pacific Railroad violated the federal regulation that absolutely prohibits coupling into a blue flagged locomotive.