Richmond Gas Explosion Injury Lawyers
Personal injury attorneys serving victims of explosions and fires throughout Virginia
Working to extract energy resources can be risky and dangerous. Even a second of negligence can lead to explosions, pressure bursts, fires, and catastrophic injuries. Our firm is currently handling a gas fracking rig pressure burst case that resulted in a severe brain injury to one of the rig workers.
The incident happened in Eastern Ohio. Virginia’s Appalachian Plateau is also the site of natural gas, crude oil and coal extraction projects. If you or a loved one were injured in an oil or gas-related accident, the Richmond-based attorneys at Phelan Petty can help. Contact us to learn more.
What are the dangers of gas and oil extraction?
The CDC reports that over 428,000 Americans work in the gas and oil extraction industry. They also report that this industry has an annual fatality rate six times higher than all other workers. Further, the majority of these workers killed and injured on the job are not covered by workers’ compensation benefits, as they are typically contractors or short-term employees.
Why is this industry such a dangerous one? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has some answers, one of which is explosions and fires. Anyone working in the oil or gas industry is at risk of flammable gases or vapors igniting, resulting in severe or life-threatening injury. These gases and vapors may be released purposely or accidentally, and if they encounter an ignition source, disasters occur. Ignition sources can be anything from static electricity to a stray cigarette to welding tools.
However, these dangers and risks do not apply only to oil and gas industry workers. Entire communities sit on top of natural gas pipelines – and experience the effects when things go terribly wrong. One man was killed and many more injured in 2018 when a gas pipeline exploded in Boston, destroying 131 buildings. Closer to home, between 2010 and 2018, Virginia and West Virginia experienced dozens of gas-related explosions of fires.
How do gas explosions happen?
Outside of Hollywood or controlled demolition, explosions are typically unexpected, sudden, and extremely dangerous. Further, because they come without warning, anyone in the area has no way to prepare or escape, which is why injuries tend to be severe or fatal. These explosions happen in and around the natural gas industry, but they can also occur in other settings, including:
- Power plants
- Mining operations
- Fertilizer plants
- Gas and fuel refill stations
- Manufacturing plants
- Construction sites
- Residential neighborhoods
Explosions and fires can also happen from improperly installed or defective appliances, like a furnace or oven. Regardless of the cause, anyone caught in the vicinity of an explosion can suffer catastrophic injuries.
What types of injuries occur from gas explosions?
The CDC classifies explosions and resulting injuries into four types: primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary. They refer to these injuries as “blast injuries.”
- Primary, occurring from the high- pressure wave caused by the explosion. Victims can experience lung and pulmonary damage, middle damage, eye rupture, concussion, and abdominal hemorrhage.
- Secondary, resulting from flying debris and fragments and can include cuts and lacerations, and penetrating or blunt injuries to the body, often the eyes.
- Tertiary, as a result from being thrown by the force of the explosion. Victims may suffer bone fractures, traumatic amputation, or closed and open brain injuries.
- Quaternary, which encompasses all other explosion-related injuries and illnesses, including severe burns, crush injuries, asthma or COPD, and cardiac issues.
These injuries can be serious or even fatal, and nearly always life-altering. Victims of explosions and fires also experience psychological trauma, like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety. Many people require therapy to heal from these emotional injuries, as well as prolonged medical care to heal from their physical injuries.
The Richmond personal injury attorneys at Phelan Petty can help you and your family if you have suffered harm in a gas explosion here or throughout Virginia.
Who is liable for my gas explosion injuries?
If you are injured on the job, generally Virginia employees are covered by workers’ compensation benefits. However, many contractors and short-term employees do not have these benefits to fall back on when injured at work. Or, your work-related injury may have been caused by someone other than your employer, like a negligent co-worker or manufacturer of a defective product.
When explosions harm residents or passers-by, they also need to hold someone liable for their injuries and losses. This is where experienced attorneys come in, investigating the root cause of the accident and finding out who or what entity was responsible.
Potential liable parties for gas explosions and fires can include:
- Subcontractors or other third parties working on-site
- Tanker or truck drivers hauling fuel who cause an accident
- Manufacturers and distributors of defective tools and products
- Utility companies and line repair personnel
The attorneys at Phelan Petty can launch an investigation into exactly what caused the explosion that caused your or your loved one’s injuries, and hold the right people accountable. We will tap into our network of expert resources to determine the cause of the pressure burst, explosion or fire. Next, we will look for any breaches of safety standards or negligence.
Am I entitled to compensation for my injuries and losses from a gas explosion?
The compensation to which one may be entitled after a gas explosion varies according to everyone’s unique circumstances and injuries. However, compensation for a successful injury claim typically includes the following:
- Medical bills, current and future. Your medical bills can encompass ambulance transport, emergency room visit, hospital stays, surgeries and treatments, physical therapy, medical supplies, and prescription medications.
- Lost wages and future earning potential. Your injuries may prevent you from working, temporarily or permanently. You may not be able to return to the same job you used to have. These damages compensate you for those financial losses now and in the future.
- Pain and suffering. Surviving a violent explosion or fire, along with injuries, can be a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally. These damages are meant to compensate you for these losses.
- Property damage. Especially in gas line explosions, entire blocks of homes can be destroyed. This means losing all of your possessions. You need compensation for your personal belongings, even those that feel irreplaceable.
- Punitive damages. In cases of extreme or willful negligence, the courts may award punitive damages, which are meant to punish and deter the offender for their behavior. Our attorneys can help determine whether punitive damages are applicable to your case.
The experienced legal team at Phelan Petty is available to help oil and gas explosion victims in Richmond and throughout Virginia. Please feel free to contact us today about your case.
Richmond gas explosion lawyers helping you
Gas and oil industry explosions are serious incidents and should be treated as such. If you or a loved one are injured in a gas explosion or fire, do not try to handle it alone. The explosion and burn attorneys at Phelan Petty can help protect your right to compensation, working on your injury claim while you take the time you need to recover from your injuries and losses. We are proud to represent clients in Richmond and throughout Virginia. To schedule a free case review, call us at 804-980-7100 or use our contact form to leave us a message.