Houston Injury Attorney Blog

Fire Is Out At California Refinery

17
March
2017

A fire at the Torrence Refining Co. has nearby residents on edge as local firefighters begin to investigate the incident. Three dozen firefighters responded to the call on Saturday morning after reports of an explosion. According to officials, they were able to extinguish the blaze in 30 minutes.

The fire and possible explosion are a cause for concern because the former Exxon Mobil refinery has been the site of several incidents over the past few years. Protests from residents have formed in past due to safety and environmental issues.

A major explosion occurred at the refinery two years ago that halted operations for more than a year. The explosion filled the air with dust and debris and could have been catastrophic to the surrounding communities.

After ongoing investigations of the incident, it was found that a giant piece of pollution-control equipment called a precipitator blew up. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board released findings that showed that one piece of equipment just missed crashing into a tank in the alkylation unit that contained tens of thousands of pounds of modified hydrofluoric acid. If the projectile had hit that tank it could have released a toxic cloud with the potential to cause serious injury or death to many community members.

U.S. Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles) said he would urge the Chemical Safety Board to include Saturday’s fire in the investigation of the explosion of 2015. the South Coast Air Quality Management District has also proposed phasing out modified hydrofluoric acid at Southern California refineries.

The community will continue to protest against the problematic refinery. A group called the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance has already been planning a rally and march against the refinery before the fire incident happened. The rally was organized in order to demand safety improvements to the facility.

 

Posted in Oil Industry, Oil Refinery Law | Tagged , , , , , |

Planned Texas Refinery Hits Environmental Bumps

10
March
2017

Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina has withdrawn his support for a proposed new refinery near Hebbronville due to environmental concerns. Tijerina originally supported the project but has since changed his mind after spending over a year with more questions than answers about the project.

The oil company, Raven Petroleum, is the company seeking permission to build a $500 million dollar refinery that would export gasoline, diesel and other products by rail to Mexico. Groups have already formed to protest the refinery to protect the environment and the safety of the grounds.

Raven Petroleum has asked Austin-based geothermal company Thermal Energy Partners to help them provide “green energy” to the new refinery, making it more environmentally friendly. Even with the hope that the refinery would be safe and better for the environment, Tijerina still does not side with the refinery.

He said he is withdrawing from the project until all of his and his constituents concerns are answered. He said that as of now, any answers he’s gotten have been very vague.

On the other hand, Raven Petroleum Managing Director Christopher Moore said that the refinery will be safe and environmentally friendly. It has been engineered to minimize all emissions utilizing the most current technology. It will also utilize more safety features and use environmentally friendly geothermal power.

Raven Petroleum has said they will be spending$450,000 a day during the beginning of the project, and the refinery’s permanent jobs will pay a minimum of $36 per hour, making it very beneficial to the economy by creating hundreds of jobs.

The refinery still has the support of Jim Hogg County Judge Humberto Gonzalez and Duval County Judge Rocky Carrillo.

Posted in Oil Industry | Tagged , , |

Fatal Semi Truck Accident

28
February
2017

Many accidents happen along the highways of Texas, and far too often they involve semi-trucks. These large vehicles leave the others involved with little chance of getting out injury free. Some of them carry hazardous materials making it even more dangerous for those involved.

Recent Semi-Truck Accidents In Texas

semi truck driving through texas

Last week, a fatal accident involving a semi-truck occurred along Highway 21. The semi truck collided with a passenger vehicle, killing the driver of the vehicle. According to the sheriff’s office, both vehicles were on fire when they arrived at the scene. The Brazos County Volunteer Precinct 4 Fire Department and the Bryan Fire Department were the ones to respond to the scene.

The investigation is still ongoing, but investigators were able to determine that the semi-truck was driving westbound around the 6200 block of West Highway 21 and the passenger vehicle was driving eastbound. They presume that the driver of the passenger vehicle crossed over the center line and collided with the semi-truck.

The driver of the semi-truck was transported to the hospital and later released. Unfortunately, like so many accidents involving semi-trucks, the driver of the other vehicle was not so lucky. The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. He was from San Antonio.

Posted in Semi-Truck Accidents | Tagged , , , , |

Offshore Drilling Regulations

24
February
2017

Offshore drilling can have detrimental effects on the environment. As a result of the horrific Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, along with many other oil spills in the U.S.’s history, new rules and regulations on offshore oil and gas drilling have been issued in an attempt to make the practice safer.

New Offshore Drilling Regulation

Back in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion was caused by the buckling of a section of drill pipe, causing what was supposed to be a fail-safe blowout preventer to malfunction.Environmentalists believe that bigger issues reside in a broader breakdown in oversight by the drilling companies and the government regulators. Either way, tougher regulations and more attention on the oil industry should make offshore oil drilling safer in the long run.

New regulations are meant to tighten safety requirements on underwater drilling equipment and well-control operations.  With more regulations on blowout preventers, the oil industry hopes to avoid more big problems in the future. Blowout preventers are the industry-standard devices that are the last line of protection to stop explosions in undersea oil and gas wells. So putting new regulations on them is in hope to achieve an even safer standard.

The new rules also put tougher restrictions on the design of undersea wells and the lining that coats the wells and real-time monitoring of subsea drilling and spill containment.

With the new requirements in place, outside organizations will conduct annual assessments on the mechanical integrity of blowout preventers. This includes a requirement that the equipment is maintained according to the manufacturers’ original performance standards. They will also be required to continue monitoring the equipment and using undersea video and other equipment of deepwater and other high-pressure, high-risk drilling activities.

Read more about the new regulations at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/15/us/politics/us-issuesnew-rules-on-offshore-oil-and-gas-drilling.html?_r=0

Posted in Oil Industry, Oil Rig Injury, oil rig safety, Uncategorized | Tagged , , |

Texas Couple Killed In Helicopter Accident

20
February
2017

Unfortunately, helicopters crash far too often. Many reasons are unknown until an official investigation is completed.

Passengers involved in a deadly helicopter accident that occurred last week over Lake Wallace have been identified as a Center, Texas couple. The aircraft was reportedly headed for Center, Texas when it ended up in the south side of Wallace Lake in DeSoto Parish in Louisiana.

The husband was also the pilot of their privately owned helicopter, and the couple was apparently out for a routine flight. According to sources, they wanted to take a trip out to a nice dinner on Valentine’s day.

The wreckage was discovered Wednesday, February 15, the day after Valentine’s Day. The aircraft was a Bell B429 Helicopter and the cause of the fatal crash is still unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board is responsible for investigating what lead to the accident.

It is the job of The National Transportation Safety Board to find out what happened in situations like this one. They analyze what happened and why, while coming up with an in depth final report.

Their final reports usually include things like:

  • the probable cause
  • findings
  • the type of aircraft
  • any personnel issues
  • a history of the landings
  • pilot information including certificate, rating and other relevant information
  • aircraft information including manufacturer,  registration,  model, year it was manufactured, inspections it has had, engine information and anything else deemed relevant
  • meteorological information
  • flight plan
  • wreckage and impact information
  • administrative information

With these final reports, the transportation industry hopes to make helicopter flights safer.

 

Posted in Helicopter Accidents | Tagged , , |

Dangers of Working On An Oil Refinery

15
February
2017

Throughout the years, Texas has been known for its massive oil industry and oil production. Although the oil industry has created thousands of jobs, it is a very dangerous line of work. There are many incidents that could happen at any time. Understanding the dangers of the job can help you prevent them if you’re working on an oil refinery.

Why Are Oil Refineries So Dangerous?

There are 141 oil refineries in the United States. These refineries stretch east and south of Houston, south of Los Angeles and northeast of San Fransisco. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has reported more than 500 refinery accidents since 1994. Oil refineries are prone to explosions that can injure or even kill refinery workers, and pollute the air with acid and other harmful chemicals.

Unfortunately, most of the worst accidents that have happened on oil refineries could have been prevented. many times, skimping on safety regulations and precautions leads to these horrific accidents. When oil corporations don’t keep up with safety inspections and other regulations and an accident happens, they are to blame.

The difficulty with oil refineries is the pressure to produce in a timely manner. Because there is so much money in the oil industry, officials usually choose not to stop work when dangers seem imminent. They push the boundaries to their limits. Typically brushing looming problems aside, workers are told to continue working. Usually refineries end up okay, but there have been incidents where its workers weren’t so lucky.

It is the choice of the oil worker to stop and leave the area if they feel that something is going wrong. According to the Huffington Post, many workers are pressured to continue working.

In 2005 in Texas City, a series of explosions occurred at the BP refinery during the restarting of a hydrocarbon isomerization unit. A distillation tower flooded with hydrocarbons and was overpressurized, causing a geyser-like release from the vent stack, injuring 180 workers and killing 16.

Oil refineries are one of the most dangerous places to work. Using you instincts and taking extra safety precautions can help you avoid being involved in one of these kinds of life altering incidents.

If you’ve been injured on an oil refinery and need representation to help you get the compensation you need, contact one of our lawyers today.

Posted in Oil Industry, Oil Refinery Law, Oil Rig Injury, oil rig injury liability, oil rig safety | Tagged , , |

How To Find the Driver at Fault for a Semi Truck Accident

30
January
2017

Getting in an accident with a semi-truck can not only result in major injuries, but can also be pain to deal with. If you’ve been in a collision with a commercial vehicle, not only do you have to deal with the driver, but you have to deal with the company of the driver as well. This can make proving the driver was at fault difficult. This article will discuss the best way to prove that the semi truck driver was at fault, ensuring that you get the compensation you deserve after an accident.

Texas Laws For Semi Truck Drivers

The first step to take is to see if the commercial truck driver was abiding by the law. If they were not, then the accident was their fault. Below are the laws for semi truck drivers regulated by the state of Texas:

  • Semi-truck drivers but be 21-years-old to operate the truck or receive a commercial license.
  • They must load cargo safely and in a way that it will not cause harm to other drivers on the road or fall out onto the road.
  • They must run periodic inspections on their vehicles as to not malfunction and cause an accident.
  • Semi-truck drivers are not allowed to drive when they are sick because it may delay their reactions or impair judgment.
  • They must drive appropriately and with caution in hazardous conditions.
  • They must follow specific safety rules when driving near or across railroad tracks.
  • They may not use a cellphone or any handheld device while operating a semi-truck.
  • They cannot drive while they are tired or fatigued as this could be just as bad as driving under the influence.
  • Semi-truck drivers must follow all other traffic laws issued by the state and federal government. 

What To Do After A Semi Truck Accident

Following the below steps after an accident can also help you ensure you gather all the information you need to prove you weren’t at fault:

Report the accident

After the accident, call 9-1-1 to report the accident so they can send police officers and ambulances if needed right away. Also make sure to report the accident to your insurance company.

Seek medical attention

Your health is the most important thing following an accident. If you are injured and get medical treatment, make sure to keep record of all of your medical bills so you can use them as documentation for your insurance and you can be properly compensated. 

Speak to the police

When police arrive on the scene they will ask you questions to get your side of the story for the police report. You will need this report to give to your insurance company. The report can have a major influence on how your case turns out. Make sure to answer all of the questions honestly, but don’t say anything that could potentially point the blame towards you.

Document as much as possible

When pursuing an accident claim it is important to have as much documentation as possible. Take photos of the placement of the vehicles and of the damages to your car. These will be helpful if a judge has to determine whose fault it is. You should also get the license plate numbers and vehicle identifications numbers of the truck or vehicles involved, as well as contact and insurance information of those involved.

Posted in injury accident lawyer, injury liability, Semi-Truck Accidents | Tagged , , |

Texas Semi Truck Laws

22
January
2017

Commercial semi-truck drivers are subject to a number of specific laws and regulations. Because semi-truck drivers must drive huge trucks that can cause serious accidents, some states enact extra laws for drivers to follow. In Texas there are several laws placed on commercial drivers in order to keep roads and highways safer. Not following these laws can lead to loss of their commercial license.

Texas Laws

  • Semi-truck drivers must pass a drug test before they are hired. They are also randomly drug tested as preventative measure.
  • Semi-truck drivers must be 21-years-old to operate the truck or receive a commercial license.
  • They must load cargo safely and in a way that it will not cause harm to other drivers on the road or fall out onto the road.
  • They must run periodic inspections on their vehicles so they don’t malfunction and cause an accident.
  • Semi-truck drivers are not allowed to drive when they are sick because it may delay their reactions or impair judgment.
  • They must drive appropriately and with caution in hazardous conditions.
  • They must follow specific safety rules when driving near or across railroad tracks.
  • They may not use a cellphone or any handheld device while operating a semi-truck.
  • They cannot drive while they are tired or fatigued as this could be just as bad as driving under the influence.
  • Semi-truck drivers must follow all other traffic laws issued by the state and federal government. 

Federal Laws for Semi-Truck Drivers

Federal laws limit the amount of time a semi-truck driver can stay behind the wheel.

  • No driver can drive longer than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • No driver can drive for any period after the end of the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • No semi-truck driver can continue driving after having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days.
  • A semi-truck driver cannot drive without taking 34 or more consecutive hours off-duty after the 7 or 8 days of consecutive driving described above.
  • If the semi truck contains passengers, the driver cannot drive more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty or for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty.

Laws and regulations for commercial drivers, and more specifically semi-truck drivers, are very complex. It is important to be aware of the laws set by each state as semi-truck drivers tend to cross state borders often.

 

Posted in Semi-Truck Accidents | Tagged , , |

Weather Conditions that Cause Helicopter Accidents

17
January
2017

Weather can have a major impact on how a helicopter handles its flight. Bad weather conditions can jeopardize the safety of a helicopter, so it’s important for pilots to be aware of the conditions that can make flying dangerous. A safe flight requires good weather conditions, but weather can change quickly, so it is also important for pilots to take extra precautions if and when bad weather hits.

Weather That Affects a Helicopter’s Flight

Fog, Rain, and Snow
Fog, rain and snow can affect a pilot’s visibility, making it very dangerous to fly in. It’s safest to avoid flying in these conditions all together, so pilots and air traffic controllers should keep a close eye on the weather and know when to cancel flights.

Turbulence
Turbulence can occur in clear air, and can sometimes be missed by a helicopter’s radar. Clear air turbulence usually happen in clear skies in high altitudes, and is caused by small scale wind velocity gradients around the high speed air of the helicopter’s fan. A pilot can learn to handle and get past these turbulences safely but it takes a lot of experience and practice.

helicopter flying

Frosty Weather
Frosty weather can be the most dangerous weather condition to fly in. This happens when the air temperature is below freezing and the humidity level in the atmosphere is high, and can lead to control problems and even crashes. All frost should be cleared off of a helicopter before it takes flight using substances such a antifreeze and de-icing salt.

Direction and Speed of the Wind
The wind’s direction and speed plays an important role in a helicopter’s flight. The wind that flows opposite to the path of the helicopter slams the helicopter’s nose and slows it down, while the tailwind push forces the helicopter in the same direction it’s going. This can lead pilots to lose control of the helicopter and can cause accidents.

Posted in Helicopter Accidents | Tagged , , |

What Should I Do After a Semi Truck Accident?

10
January
2017

Half a million truck accidents happen in the U.S. each year, and one-in-eight fatal traffic accidents involve a semi truck. Unfortunately, semi truck accidents continue to happen every day. For those who have been involved in one, it is important to know the legal steps to take after the accident happens.

What to do after a semi truck accident

semi truck accident

Report the accident
After the accident, call 9-1-1 to report the accident so they can send police officers and ambulances if needed right away. Also make sure to report the accident to your insurance company.

Seek medical attention
Your health is the most important thing following an accident. If you’re not obviously injured, check to make sure everyone else involved is okay too. If you are injured and get medical treatment make sure to keep record of all of your medical bills so you can use them as documentation for your insurance so you can be properly compensated. If you don’t have any dire accidents, it’s always important to see a doctor after an accident. This way is you do end up having complications from the accident later, you have documentation that you did not deny medical treatment.

Speak to the police 
When police arrive on the scene they will ask you questions to get your side of the story for the police report. You will need this report to give to your insurance company and the report can have a major influence on how your case turns out. Make sure to answer all of the questions honestly but don’t say anything that could potentially point the blame towards you.

Document as much as possible 
When pursuing an accident claim it is important to have as much documentation as possible. Take photos of the placement of the vehicles are the accident and of the damages to your car. These will be helpful if a judge has to determine whose fault it is. You should also get the license plate numbers and vehicle identifications numbers of the trucks or vehicles involved, and contact and insurance information of those involved.

Posted in Semi-Truck Accidents | Tagged , , |