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Houston Pipeline Explosion Attorney

Oil pipelines are essential pieces of infrastructure in the United States. Pipelines ensure that the oil gets where it needs to be. Unfortunately, there are times when pipeline explosions occur, and this can lead to significant injuries for any person nearby, including workers or bystanders.

At the Doan Law Firm, our team is here to help if you need a Houston pipeline explosion attorney by your side. We have the resources necessary to fully investigate these incidents, and our goal is to ensure that victims recover the compensation they need to get through this difficult time.

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Why Choose the Doan Law Firm?

  • At the Doan Law Firm, we have offices in more than 40 cities throughout the country, and we have built a vast network of resources that we employ to help every client that we take.
  • We specialize in mass casualty incidents like pipeline explosion accidents, and we have obtained tens of millions of dollars on behalf of explosion accident victims.
  • We take Houston explosion accident cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that our clients will not have to worry about paying any legal fees until after we obtain the compensation they are entitled to.

How Will an Attorney Help This Claim?

After a pipeline explosion occurs, the vast majority of victims will not have the resources or legal expertise necessary to handle the entire case. A skilled oil pipeline explosion and burn injury attorney in Houston can:

  • Fully investigate the safety and maintenance records of the company responsible for pipeline management
  • Review the equipment provided to the pipeline employees
  • Review the training that pipeline employees had to undergo
  • Work with state and federal regulators to help determine the cause of the pipeline explosion
  • Ensure the client is evaluated by trusted medical professionals who can treat the injuries and help calculate total losses
  • Fully prepare to take the case to trial if necessary to ensure their client is treated fairly

Houston Pipeline Explosion Attorney

Determining Liability After a Pipeline Explosion

Understanding liability after a pipeline explosion can be confusing, and there are several factors that must be examined. The type and cause of the explosion are essential to your case, but due to the sheer complexity of the claim, determining liability is a challenge. For example, these incidents can affect various types of individuals, including homeowners, business owners, pipeline workers, etc. A thorough investigation by a Houston pipeline explosion lawyer can help uncover all potentially liable parties for your particular situation.

The process of determining pipeline explosion liability involves gathering as much evidence as possible related to the incident. Unfortunately, due to the nature of these claims, investigating and gathering this evidence can be time-consuming and costly. Our team has extensive resources available, and we know what it takes to investigate these claims fully.

Potential Damages Available in a Personal Injury Claim

There are often various types of compensation available to pipeline explosion accident victims. At the Doan Law Firm, our goal is to help individuals recover both economic and non-economic damages for their losses.

  • Economic damages. After a pipeline explosion occurs, victims are likely to incur a wide range of calculable expenses. When we say calculable, we are referring to the types of losses that are verifiable using receipts, bills, or invoices. Some of the most common economic damages associated with these types of claims include:
    • Emergency medical expenses
    • Ongoing medical bills, including rehabilitation or physical therapy
    • Prescription medication or medical device costs
    • Lost wages if an explosion accident victim cannot work
    • Property damage expenses
  • Non-economic damages. These damages are not as easily quantifiable as the economic losses just mentioned. Non-economic damages revolve around the emotional, psychological, and physical pain and suffering victims endure as a result of the pipeline explosion. There are various calculation methods to help understand the total non-economic damages a person sustains.
  • Punitive damages. Punitive damages may also be available in situations where the conduct of the alleged negligent party is deemed to have been the result of malice, gross negligence, or fraud. These damages are meant to act as a punishment to the individual as well as a deterrent to others. Not every claim is awarded punitive damages.

What Are the Main Types of Pipelines?

The most common types of pipelines individuals could be affected by include natural gas pipelines and oil pipelines.

Natural gas pipelines

Natural gas pipelines are commonly used in residential and commercial settings and are typically made of carbon steel with diameters ranging from a few inches to several feet. These pipelines remain pressurized to help the gas move from one end of the pipeline to the other.

Oil pipelines

Oil pipelines transport crude or refined oil between the oil fields and the refineries. They are usually made from steel or plastic and range in diameter from a few inches to approximately four feet. Most of these pipelines run underground and only come to the surface at pump stations or valves, but some feature several miles at the surface level.

Who Regulates Pipelines in Texas?

Pipeline regulation taxes revolve around both federal regulators as well as state regulatory bodies.

Federal Regulation of Pipelines

  1. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA, under the U.S. Department of Transportation, has broad regulatory authority over pipelines carrying natural gas and hazardous liquids. It is responsible for creating and enforcing safety standards to ensure the safe operation of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure. PHMSA’s regulations extend to all gas-gathering pipeline operators and include safety requirements for pipelines with large diameters and high operating pressures​​.
  2. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, and oil. It has authority over the construction of new interstate pipelines, rates for transportation on interstate pipelines, and the overall financial aspects of pipeline operation. While FERC does not directly manage pipeline safety, it requires that operators conduct regular inspections and maintenance.
  3. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA may become involved in pipeline operations if workers’ safety is at risk, such as in the event of an explosion or other hazardous situation. OSHA’s role is to ensure workplace safety and health standards are met.

Texas State Regulation of Pipelines

  1. Texas Railroad Commission (RRC). The RRC oversees the regulation of pipelines within Texas, including those carrying natural gas and hazardous liquids. Its authority includes the safety, operational, and environmental aspects of pipelines. The RRC’s regulatory scope complements federal regulations, focusing on intrastate pipeline operations.

Common Causes of Pipeline Accidents

Pipeline accidents can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Aging infrastructure. Much of the pipeline infrastructure in the US is aging rapidly and has not undergone significant repairs. There are pipelines that have been in operation since the 1950s and 1960s, and some even from before then.
  2. Improper oversight. Companies must prioritize safety, which is why there is strict federal and state regulation of pipeline operation. If state or federal regulators fail to adequately oversee pipeline operations, this opens the door to significant issues falling through the cracks, including maintenance failures, personnel training issues, and overall pipeline operation problems.
  3. Excavation damage. An article in Biological Diversity highlights government data related to pipeline excavation incidents. From 2005 to 2019, excavation damage led to more than 1,000 total pipeline incidents, many of which caused fatalities and injuries.
  4. Equipment failure. Various types of equipment can fail and cause a pipeline explosion. This can include pumps, tanks, meters, compressors, valves, and any part of the pipeline system. Pipeline operators should regularly inspect and maintain all parts of the pipeline, including these separate parts that could malfunction.
  5. Weather issues. Natural disasters can wreak havoc on pipelines. This includes fires, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, and more.

Houston Pipeline Explosion Injuries Can be Severe

There are various causes of pipeline explosions in and around the Houston area. In the vast majority of these cases, pipeline explosions are preventable and caused by human mistakes. Perhaps the most obvious cause of pipeline explosions our fires started in or around the pipeline area. However, there are also additional causes that we need to be aware of:

  • Excavation work. Anytime there is excavation work going on near a pipeline, this could cause a leak or an explosion. Regulations require that any party conducting excavations properly identify pipeline locations before beginning their work.
  • Defective safety equipment. All safety equipment must be installed properly or it could cause an explosion. If safety equipment has been poorly designed or manufactured incorrectly, this could lead to an explosion.
  • Inadequate training. Every employee working on or around the pipeline must be properly trained and comply with OSHA standards.
  • Poor maintenance. Companies that maintain pipelines must conduct regular inspections and maintenance in order to ensure the continued safe operation of the pipeline.
  • Improper installation. The improper installation of pipeline welding can lead to leaks or explosions. Pipeline installers should always ensure that shut-off valves are present and working properly.
  • Failure to respond. Anytime a pipeline worker or operator discovers a fault with the pipeline, this must be dealt with quickly to ensure the issue does not become worse.

Reach out to our Houston Pipeline Explosion Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured in a pipeline explosion accident in or around the Houston area, reach out to the team at the Doan Law Firm for help as soon as possible. We have an extensive network of resources that we are ready to employ to help ensure that you recover the compensation you need. This can include compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering damages, and more. When you need a Houston pipeline explosion attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 800-349-0000.