Refinery fires and explosions can injure and kill both workers and those who live in the surrounding areas. These types of fires and explosions can be catastrophic, as they can involve large amounts of highly flammable or explosive materials which can instantaneously cause a fireball of damage.
Examples of recent refinery fires include:
- Chevron’s Richmond refinery explosion in California, on July 11, 2013. A series of explosions occurred following a diesel leak, causing thousands of East Bay residents to be ordered to stay inside. Fortunately no one was killed, and one person sustained wrist burns and was treated at an on-site clinic.
- The Tesoro refinery explosion in Anacortes, Washington on April 2, 2010. Seven people were killed in this explosion.
- A sugar refinery explosion at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth Georgia in 2008, killing 14 and injuring 38,  and
- A BP America Refinery explosion Texas City, Texas in March 2005, killing 15 workers and injuring 180 people.
Unfortunately, when such fires and explosions occur, there may be no chance of escape for facility workers, contractors, and sometimes even for neighbors who may live in close proximity. Tragically, firefighters and first responders may also be killed or sustain terrible injuries in these types of explosions and fires.
At our firm, we are committed to seeking full compensation for all those who are injured, and for the families who have lost a loved one, in refinery fires and explosions.
If I’m an Employee, Can I Sue My Employer for My Injuries?
In almost all cases, employees cannot sue their employers for injuries sustained from burns and explosions. Instead, an employee’s sole recourse against his or her employer will be to seek recovery pursuant to applicable workers’ compensation statutes.
Under worker’s compensation statutes, employees are entitled to recover for injuries received during the course of work. Employees do not need to prove that their employer was negligent; instead, they only need to show that they were injured during the course of their employment, and the nature and severity of the injuries sustained. While workers’ compensation laws make it easy to recover against employers as negligence does not have to be shown, unfortunately for workers the amount of compensation is usually limited compared to compensation that otherwise might be received from a third party, in large part because workers’ compensation statutes typically do not provide for pain and suffering.
Who Else Might Be Liable for My Injuries?
In many refinery explosions and fires there will be others in addition to the refinery company that may have been at fault or that contributed to the accident. Others responsible may include:
- Contractors, who may have caused or contributed to the explosion due to negligent actions, such by not handling dangerous materials appropriately or through other acts or omissions,
- The manufacturers of defective products, if such defective products triggered the explosion or fire or if they caused damages and injuries to be much more extensive than should have been the case,
- Consultants, who may have advised a company on the handling or storage of dangerous materials, if such advice was not proper,
- Property owners, if they were negligent in some manner, and
- Engineers or architects, if building design posed a danger concerning the flammable or explosive materials or otherwise posed a risk of injury.
As every situation will be unique, so too will be the potential defendants in a refinery explosion or fire.
Who May Be Responsible for My Injuries if I am Not an Employee of the Company Where the Explosion Occurred?
While employees of contractors will be limited to recovering against their employer under workers’ compensation laws, they additionally may seek recovery against the refinery company, as well as any others who may have been negligent. So, for instance, if a contractor is performing work onsite at a refinery that sustains an explosion or fire, employees of the contractor will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from the contractor employer, and such employees may additionally bring a lawsuit against the refinery company or any others who may be liable.
Those who have no employment relationship with the refinery or who are not working for the refinery at the time of the explosion are entitled to sue whomever they believe may bear legal liability for the explosion or fire. As a result, neighbors of the facility may sue the refinery company, property owners, lessees, contractors, manufacturers, or anyone else who may have been responsible for the explosion.
Call Us to Find Out How We Help the Victims of Refinery Explosions and Fires
We offer a free, no-obligation consultation so that you can learn about our firm. At this consultation we can advise you of your options for recovery against those who may be liable. We accept cases involving refinery explosions and fires on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there is no fee for us unless we are successful in recovering compensation and damages for you.