Work-Related Accidents and Illnesses in Plants and Refineries
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there are more than 4,000 injuries and illnesses suffered yearly in petroleum refineries. The state of Texas, which is home to more than 30 refineries producing up to six million barrels of oil per day, has more such injuries than any other state.
Causes of Refinery Injuries and Illnesses
Common causes of plant and refinery injuries include:
- Explosions and fires
- Vehicle accidents
- Defective machinery
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Poor job training
- Slip-and-fall mishaps
- Crane accidents
- Scaffold accidents
Such work-related accidents and workplace conditions commonly result in broken bones, burns, hearing and vision loss, muscle strains, joint sprains, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, severed limbs or digits, and amputations.
Why You Might Have to Sue for Damages
While some plant and refinery workplace injuries and illnesses are compensable through state workers’ compensation programs, the state benefits available to injured workers are limited and might not be sufficient to cover your medical expenses if you’ve suffered a serious refinery injury. Workers’ comp also pays only a portion of your lost income and nothing for your pain and suffering.
Employers in Texas have the option of not subscribing to state compensation programs. If your employer is a non-subscriber or if a third party (like an equipment manufacturer or outside cleaning service) is fully or partially responsible for your injury or illness, you may file a personal injury suit in civil court to seek compensation for all your medical bills, all lost income, and physical pain and suffering, as well as emotional anguish. The statute of limitations allows you two years from the date of the injury to take legal action.
What If My Loved One Died in a Refinery Accident?
The family members of an employee who dies as a result of a plant or refinery accident may file a wrongful death suit against the liable parties. If they do not do so within three months after their loved one’s death, the executor of the deceased person’s estate may file the wrongful death action on behalf of the estate.
How Long it Could Take to Resolve a Case
Of course, you hope to recover damages from your work-related injury or illness as soon as possible, but you also want to be sure you receive fair and reasonable compensation. Severe injuries like those sustained in refinery accidents often require long recovery times and might leave you totally or partially disabled. You really don’t know what your total present and future medical expenses will be until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Once you accept a settlement, you may never ask for any more money, even if you suffer long-term complications as a result of your injury, so you don’t want to accept a settlement offer until you know what your damages really are. To represent you properly, your attorney needs sufficient time to pursue your claim by:
- Investigating your accident or illness thoroughly to prove liability
- Interviewing any witnesses
- Checking your employer’s safety record with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Consulting with your doctors to determine your long-term prognosis
- Gathering and organizing your medical evidence
- Determining your present and future lost income
- Putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering
- Filing a lawsuit against one or more parties liable for your damages
- Negotiating with one or more defendants for an out-of-court settlement
- Preparing for a trial if a fair settlement is not offered
In some cases, a settlement might be offered by the defendant(s) as soon as a suit is filed. In other cases, however, an offer might not be forthcoming until the post-discovery pre-trial conference or until the very last minute before the trial is set to begin. For all these reasons, it’s very hard to predict exactly how long you might have to wait for fair compensation. You could hope for a resolution of your case in 12 to 18 months, but that’s just a ballpark estimate. Your recovery might come sooner or later than that.
Have You Been Injured in a Plant or Refinery Accident in Texas?
The best way to seek a reasonable recovery in the shortest possible time is to consult an experienced plant and refinery accident lawyer as soon as possible and start the process that will lead to fair compensation. Contact us online, start a chat, or call us at 281-688-6880 to schedule your free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.