Articles Posted in Oil and Gas Accidents

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pexels-oliver-king-4067795-300x200Many Texans spend the majority of their time at work. As a result, San Antonio workplace accidents are very common, even for those with jobs that are not physically demanding. Indeed, an on-the-job accident can occur at any moment, and for almost any reason. Thus, all employees need to understand their options when it comes to recovering after a work-related accident.

There are two types of claims that a worker can bring after an on-the-job accident. The first, a workers’ compensation claim, is the more common of the two types of claims. The workers’ compensation system provides employees a simplified way to obtain compensation for a work-related accident without needing to prove that their employer was at fault. Because the workers’ compensation program is a no-fault system, these claims are typically quicker to process than traditional personal injury claims.

The main drawback of workers’ compensation claims is the availability of damages. Injured employees who successfully bring a Texas workers’ compensation claim can obtain benefits for their medical expenses, lost wages, and any decrease in earning capacity. However, unlike a personal injury case, a workers’ comp claim does not entitle an employee to non-economic damages.

Published on:, Sept. 3, 2020:  BIG SPRING, TX – Multiple crews responded to the report of an explosion in Howard County on Thursday afternoon.

According to Fire Chief Craig Ferguson, Big Spring Fire and EMS crews along with the Howard County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to an explosion at a well site in the area off of County Road 40 and County Road 15 at around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Upon their arrival, EMS crews located three victims.

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Bryan, Texas, February 8, 2020:  A  second explosion happened at one of Chesapeake Energy’s oil wells in the Eagle Ford Shale just two weeks after a Jan. 29 deadly explosion at a Chesapeake Energy oil well site in nearby Burleson County. Three men were killed and one man was left hospitalized in the Burleson incident. Bryan Maldonado, 25, and Windell Beddingfield died in what is the deadliest oilfield accident since January 2018.

Authorities are investigating the accident which occurred about 1 a.m. Saturday at a storage tank on the company’s Luther lease off Sandy Point and Old San Antonio Roads in a rural area of Brazos County about eight miles northwest of Bryan.

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Photo Credit: KWTX

(BURLESON COUNTY, Texas,  Feb 3, 2020)  Three oil field contractors have died and another is still in the hospital after an oil well blowout and the resulting fire in Burleson County, Texas.

The accident happened at a well site near Deanville, on County Road 127 and FM 60,  southwest of Bryan on January 29th.  The Chesapeake Energy owned well was undergoing major maintenance operations by contractors employed by CC Forbes and Eagle Pressure Control when the explosion occurred.

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Photo Credit: KTRK

(HOUSTON, January 27, 2020)  Two people were killed in a gas explosion in northwest Houston at a manufacturing warehouse on Friday the 25 at around 4:30 a.m. After the explosion the Houston Fire Department reported that 48 people had to be sheltered and 18 people were sent to local emergency rooms for injuries.

Officials have identified Gerardo Castorena Sr. and Frank Flores as the two victims who were killed in this fatal explosion.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a written opinion in a Texas car accident case involving the question of whether the defendant employer could be held liable for the allegedly negligent actions of an employee. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower court improperly granted the defendant employer’s motion for summary judgment, finding that a genuine issue of fact remained as to whether the employer was vicariously liable. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s judgment and remanded the case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for a company that drilled oil and gas wells. On this particular job, the plaintiff and the rest of the crew were put up in company housing about 30 miles away from the drilling site. A contract between the plaintiff’s employer and the owner of the land where the wells were to be drilled stated that the supervising crew member would be compensated for driving the crew members to and from the drilling site.

Thus, for this particular job, the plaintiff’s crew supervisor provided the plaintiff and the rest of the crew with transportation to the drill site. One day, the supervisor was involved in a car accident that killed two members of the crew and injured the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the employer, arguing that it was vicariously liable for the supervisor’s negligence in causing the accident.

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In Oiltanking Houston, LP v. Delgado, an employee of an independent contractor hired to work on a pipe by Oiltanking died in an explosion. He was welding a flange on a 24-inch pipe used to transport crude oil. Hydrocarbon fumes ignited, and an explosion occurred, killing the employee and injuring two others.

The employee’s family sued Oiltanking, the owner of the premises and the hirer of the independent contractor, for wrongful death. The victims also sued for personal injuries.

At trial, testimony was provided about the procedures used, the aspects of the process that Oiltanking controlled versus the aspects controlled by the independent contractor, and the events that led up to the explosion. Under Chapter 33 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Oiltanking designated the independent contractor as the responsible third party. However, the judge struck the designation when the evidence closed. Due to this, the jury was asked whether Oiltanking’s negligence was the legal cause of the explosion.

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In Cerny v. Marathon Oil Corporation, a couple sued an oil corporation and others for private nuisance and negligence claims. They said that toxic emissions from the companies’ oil and gas operations near their home had caused injuries to their health and property.

The case arose when the couple moved into a fixer-upper in 2002. They leased mineral rights in their land to the predecessor of the oil corporation defendant. Subsequently, the defendant was authorized to use the surface of their land for oil and gas operations and to drill horizontal wells. The defendant didn’t put wellheads or infrastructure on the couple’s property, and they received consistent royalty payments.

In 2013, they sued the oil corporation and another party, alleging that they were negligent in their oilfield operations and these operations worsened existing health problems and caused new ones. Due to the oilfield operations, their property wound up with sink holes, and their home’s foundation was damaged. Their property was also surrounded by other wells and production facilities owned by the defendants, and these radically changed their rural lifestyle. They pled negligence, negligence per se, gross negligence, and private nuisance.

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Diamond Offshore Services Limited v. Williams is a Jones Act case that arose when the plaintiff injured his back while trying to fix machinery on an offshore oil rig operated by a Texas defendant in Egypt. The plaintiff was a mechanic who had worked for the defendant two different times and in different capacities for about a decade.

One afternoon, before he was scheduled to come back to the U.S., a driller told him that the elevators had failed and he needed to repair them. He worked on the elevators for 30-40 minutes. He bent at the waist to scoot the elevators, which weighed hundreds of pounds, into his work area. While working, he felt a sharp lower back pain. When he was done, he saw a doctor who told him to rest. The next day, he felt back discomfort when bending in his bed.

The man’s back continued to hurt when he got home, and the defendant referred him to an orthopedic surgeon whom he saw 10 days later. The orthopedic surgeon was independent but had seen patients off and on for the defendant. The man told the doctor that he hurt his back on a rig in 2006, two years before the incident at issue in this case, and that he had leg pain.

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In the recent Texas appellate case of In re Wyatt Field Service Company, the court considered whether a new trial was warranted in connection with two plaintiffs’ serious personal injuries that arose from a refinery accident. At the refinery, crude oil is turned into gasoline. Tar is a byproduct of the process. The tar is broken down into pure carbon by a flexicoker unit. The carbon is called “coke.” The coke is heated and returned as a source of heat for the reactor.

Exxon Mobil performs maintenance on the flexicoker unit every two or three years. As part of the process, the heater has to be cooled down through spray from nozzles. The coke builds up in the nozzles and clogs them. The spray nozzles are replaced with dummy nozzles. The worker must pull the dummy nozzle out, and an Exxon Mobil employee closes the gate valve to keep steam and coke inside. Two employees of LWL, Inc. were removing the dummy nozzles in 2011, when one came out too far and the gate was not shut. Coke and steam were sprayed on them, causing burn injuries.

Later, Exxon Mobil investigated and found that the safety chain was in the wrong location and that Wyatt had reattached the safety chain in a previous maintenance session. The two employees of LWL sued Wyatt and ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil settled, so the trial proceeded only against Wyatt as the defendant. Continue reading →

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