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Houston Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawyer

Fertilizer plants are instrumental in ensuring that our agriculture industries and households throughout the US have the products they need to keep things growing. However, fertilizer plants also use ammonia, and there is a serious risk of explosion if this material is handled improperly.

At the Doan Law Firm, our team is here to help if you need a Houston fertilizer plant explosion lawyer. We have the resources necessary to fully investigate these incidents in order to determine liability and help injury victims recover the compensation they need.

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Why Choose the Doan Law Firm for a Fertilizer Plant Explosion Case?

  • Founder Jimmy Doan is widely regarded as an expert in the legal industry concerning explosion cases, and he knows what it takes to help clients secure full compensation for their losses.
  • At the Doan Law Firm, we have a vast network of resources that we can call upon to help us conduct complete investigations into every explosion case that we take.
  • We take Houston fertilizer plant explosion case on a contingency fee basis, which means the client will never have to worry about legal fees until after we obtain the compensation they are entitled to.

How Will an Attorney Help Your Claim?

A skilled fertilizer plant explosion lawyer is going to be an integral part of this process for victims. An attorney can use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the case, which will include digging deep into the safety records of the chemical plant involved. This will also include working with state and federal regulators to analyze the history of the plant as well as the cause of the explosion.

An attorney will also ensure that their client is evaluated by trusted medical professionals who can help treat their injuries and evaluate the total expected losses. Importantly, an attorney will handle all negotiations with other parties involved in an effort to reach a fair settlement on behalf of their clients.

Understanding Fertilizer Plant Explosions in Houston

Fertilizer uses ammonia (NH3). This is a strong colorless gas. When ammonia is in its natural state, it is a water-free chemical that is light and has a potent odor. In general, ammonia is not extremely flammable. However, ammonia breaks down fairly easily when it comes into contact with water and can potentially explode when temperatures increase. When ammonia is mixed with other compounds, it is capable of creating nitrogen-containing substances. Both ammonia and nitrogen blends are regularly used in the fertilizer industry.

When producing fertilizer, it is crucial for companies who keep all chemicals at proper temperatures and stored properly. The West Fertilizer Company explosion that occurred in West, Texas, on April 17, 2013, serves as an important reminder of the dangers of fertilizer plants. This explosion resulted in 15 fatalities and more than 160 injuries. Over 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Investigators at the time confirmed that ammonium nitrate was the material that exploded.

What Damages May Be Available After a Fertilizer Plant Explosion?

The total amount of compensation available to victims after a fertilizer plant explosion will vary depending on several factors related to their particular circumstances. Even in situations where multiple victims are affected by the same plant explosion, the types of damages each victim receives may look slightly different depending on their situation.

However, in general, fertilizer plant explosion victims in Houston could be eligible for the following types of economic and non-economic damages if their claim against an alleged negligent party is successful. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Economic damages. Economic damages provide compensation for monetary losses that directly result from the incident. These may include:
    • Medical expenses. Covers both immediate and long-term care required due to injuries sustained in the explosion. This includes hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any future medical care.
    • Lost wages. Compensation for the income victims were unable to earn due to their injuries. This includes time off work for recovery and, in severe cases, loss of earning capacity if the victim cannot return to their previous employment.
    • Property damage. It covers the cost of repairing or replacing property damaged in the explosion, such as homes, vehicles, and personal belongings.
  • Non-economic damages. Non-economic damages compensate victims for losses that are not necessarily monetary but have a significant impact on their quality of life. These can include:
    • Pain and suffering. Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress victims endure due to their injuries. This includes ongoing discomfort, fear, anxiety, and the impact of physical limitations on daily activities.
    • Loss of consortium. Addresses the impact of the victim’s injuries on their relationship with their spouse or partner, including loss of companionship, affection, and support.
    • Emotional distress. Provides compensation for psychological effects of the explosion, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety, that can persist long after physical injuries have healed.

There is no set amount of compensation paid to Houston fertilizer plant explosion accident victims. Several factors can influence total compensation paid through a successful insurance settlement or jury verdict.

Fertilizer Plant Operators Are Required to Follow OSHA Safety Protocols

The safety and well-being of workers in the fertilizer industry hinge significantly on adherence to the regulations set forth by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s regulatory framework encompasses rules designed to mitigate the risk of fires, explosions, and other hazardous incidents within the workplace.

Fertilizer plant and refinery operators bear the critical responsibility of ensuring a secure working environment by implementing the following measures:

  • Maintaining a hazard-free workplace. Operators must ensure their facilities comply with all applicable health and safety regulations, creating a safe environment for all employees.
  • Conducting regular inspections. It is imperative to frequently examine the workplace to identify and rectify any conditions that could pose a danger to employees.
  • Providing essential safety equipment. Workers should have access to the appropriate safety gear and tools necessary for their tasks, further reducing the risk of workplace injuries.
  • Upholding equipment standards. All machinery, equipment, and tools must be meticulously maintained, in good working order, and replaced when necessary to prevent accidents.
  • Training employees on safety procedures. Offering comprehensive training in health and safety protocols, including periodic reviews, equips workers with the knowledge to avoid hazards.
  • Reporting incidents to OSHA. In the event of an accident, fire, or explosion resulting in serious injury or fatality, operators are obliged to notify OSHA promptly.

Despite stringent safety regulations, the risk to workers remains significant. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the alarming frequency of workplace fatalities, with Texas experiencing the highest number of work-related deaths in the nation, including 18 fatalities due to explosions or fires.

Why Do Fertilizer Plant Explosions Occur?

Fertilizer plant explosions are typically devastating incidents with the potential to cause significant harm to workers, nearby residents, and the environment. These explosions can occur for various reasons, each linked to the complex, often hazardous, nature of handling and processing chemical materials.

  • Mishandling of hazardous chemicals. Fertilizer plants use and produce chemicals like ammonia and ammonium nitrate, which are highly explosive under certain conditions. If these chemicals are not properly stored, handled, or processed, the risk of an explosion increases dramatically.
  • Equipment failure. Machinery in these plants operates under intense conditions, and without regular maintenance and checks, equipment can fail, leading to leaks, overheating, or sparks that can ignite explosive chemicals.
  • Human error. Including fertilizer plant explosions. Mistakes in the mixing of chemicals, failure to follow safety protocols, or inadequate training of staff can all lead to catastrophic outcomes.
  • Regulatory non-compliance. Plants are required to adhere to safety regulations and standards set by organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). When these regulations are ignored or improperly implemented, the chances of an accident, including explosions, rise significantly.

What Happens if a Fertilizer Plant Explosion Causes Fatal Injuries?

Due to the often extreme nature of a fertilizer plant explosion, fatalities can occur. When this happens, family members of those who lose their lives may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Under Texas law, a deceased individual’s surviving spouse, children, or parents (or a combination of those) are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the event the negligent actions of another individual or entity caused the death of their loved one. If a wrongful death claim is successful, family members and the estate of the deceased could receive various types of compensation for their losses.

If you have lost a loved one as a result of a fertilizer plant explosion or any other type of plant explosion, please reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. An explosion-related wrongful death lawyer can help walk you and your family through the process of filing these claims. Your attorney will handle every aspect of the claim on your behalf.

Contact a Houston Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawyer Immediately

If you or somebody you love has been injured in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in or around the Houston area, reach out to the team at the Doan Law Firm for help as soon as possible. Our attorneys have a vast network of resources that we are ready to employ to ensure that you recover the compensation you need. This can include coverage of your medical bills, lost income if you cannot work, pain and suffering damages, and more. When you need a Houston fertilizer plant explosion lawyer, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 800-349-0000.