Fracking Lawsuits: Workers Injured, Contaminated Water, Traffic Accidents

As the oil and gas extraction method of fracking continues to grow in popularity, the number of fracking accident injuries continues to rise across the country. The lawyers at Baron & Budd are here to help you file a claim for injuries or death in a fracking accident. Let us help you file a claim for damages and hold them responsible for negligence.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking”, now accounts for more than half of the nation’s oil output. Although not a new concept, recent technological advances have allowed the oil and gas industry to expand into shale fields where extraction was once thought of as non-feasible from a financial standpoint. Unfortunately, employees within the fracking industry face some of the most dangerous working conditions in the nation.

As a whole, oil and gas extraction workers experience an average fatality rate seven times higher than other industries, but fracking may prove to be an even deadlier sub-sector of the industry. Fracking exposes workers to toxic chemicals and silica dust and is heavily reliant on trucks to haul supplies to and from extraction sites. Of the 1,189 fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry between the years 2003 and 2013, 40 percent were directly related to transportation, placing fracking workers at particularly high risk of death or injury. 

Common Hazards at Hydraulic Fracking Sites

There are an abundance of hazards at oilfield drilling and extraction sites, but workers within the fracking sub-sector face additional risks beyond those at traditional sites. Some of the unique hazards of working in fracking include:

  • Fatigue related to long hours behind the wheel and/or at the extraction site;
  • Chemical exposure to a range of radioactive and carcinogenic substances;
  • Silica dust exposure, which can lead to silicosis when inhaled; 
  • The risk of fire and explosion due to proximity to flammable products under high pressure;
  • Falling from high locations;
  • Large objects which can become loose, strike, crush or pin workers;
  • Erosion concern as fracking is known to produce unstable ground conditions.

Fracking Injuries Caused by Errors & Improper Training

The recent fracking boom has led to an increase in inexperienced workers within the industry. Although employers are required by OSHA law to provide every employee adequate training and supervision, the reality is that these requirements are often not met. Employee error is responsible for a significant percentage of accidents and fatalities within the oil and gas industry, yet the ultimate party responsible for inadequate employee training lies with their employers.

If sufficient training programs, educational materials and supervision have not been provided, employers may be held liable for damages in a lawsuit should an injury or death result from such inaction. A fracking accident lawyer can help determine whether injuries sustained at a hydraulic fracturing site were caused by company or contractor negligence. If negligence can be proven, Baron & Budd can determine which type of claim you are eligible to file, and what damages can be sought.

Depending on where the fracking site is located, injury or wrongful death claims may fall under jurisdiction of the appropriate state civil code for land-based injuries or deaths under The Jones Act or The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act for sites located offshore.  

Accidents Caused by Improperly Maintained & Inspected Equipment

Improperly maintained equipment and uninspected equipment make employers liable for injuries. OSHA specifies that all employers must provide workers a reasonably safe working environment complete with properly maintained equipment and safety gear.

Regular inspections of all machinery involved in the fracking process, as well as all vehicles used to transport supplies, must be completed and documented by qualified individuals. Necessary repairs must be completed before the device is again utilized on the jobsite, in some instances. Employers who do not properly maintain equipment are in violation of OSHA laws and may be deemed negligent and liable for damages should an accident occur. 

Fracking Boom Plagues Texas, Louisiana, California, Oklahoma, Kansas & Colorado

With the price of oil on the rise, and the United States’ push for energy independence, the fracking industry has continued to wreak havoc on the environment, water supply, and drill site injuries. In Dimmit County and other areas around South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale, hydraulic fracturing sites have proven lethal. While areas like Piedras Negras have enjoyed a short-term economic boom, they soon learned that their water supply had been severely depleted and what little remains contaminated with chemicals.

Traffic accidents with tanker trucks heading to and leaving from fracking sites have claimed many lives and countless other injuries. Laredo, Texas fracking injury lawsuits have increased exponentially in addition to other South Texas towns home to fracking and other rig drilling sites.

Which South Texas Towns Have the Most Fracking Accidents?

  • Weslaco
  • Harlingen
  • San Antonio
  • Corpus Christi
  • Beaumont
  • Wichita Falls
  • Carrizo Springs
  • Catarina
  • Big Wells
  • Port Arthur
  • Odessa
  • Midland
  • Brownsville
  • McAllen

Depleted & Contaminated Water Supply Lawsuits in Texas

contaminated drinking water from fracking in Dish Texas
Texas has more active fracking sites than any other state in the country. In addition to an increase in traffic accidents, road damage, and injured workers, water contamination and ecological damage are a huge concern for residents of South Texas and other fracking hotbeds across the country. According to an article in My San Antonio, a study conducted by UT-Arlington uncovered elevated levels of arsenic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area drinking water near the Barnett Shale fracking region.

One family in Decatur, Texas, about an hour drive northwest of Dallas, recently won a $3 Million award in a fracking contamination lawsuit. More than 20 toxic chemicals were found in one resident’s body, and the combination of air and water contamination had made the entire family physically ill.

In South Texas near the Eagle Ford Shale, precious water supplies are being depleted and contaminated with carcinogens and dangerous neurotoxins. Nobody knows the long-term affects of local residents’ exposure and consumption of these pollutants, but in the deserts of South and West Texas water is a precious resource.

Manufacturer Liability for Defective Equipment

Considering the intense pressure fracking related machinery must withstand, even the slightest manufacturing defect can result in a catastrophe for workers and the surrounding community.

Types of product liability that may affect injury claims for equipment malfunction include:

  • Manufacturing Defects
  • Dangerous Design Defects/Flaws
  • Seller Liability for Injuries After Product Modification

Pipes with unstable metal composition may explode, buckle, or crack under pressure causing fatal explosions, devastating burns, and exposure to toxic gases. Cables holding workers, if not manufactured properly, may snap and whip across the job site. Accidents like this can be devastating. If caused by a manufacturing defect,  the manufacturing company can be held responsible to pay damages in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Brake failure, tire failure, or any other safety component on a large truck may be the cause for a serious fracking related truck accident. Manufacturers are required to inspect products before they are shipped from the facility; any equipment which is later found to have a defect which resulted in an injury or fatality places the manufacturer in a position of liability for associated damages in a court of law under chapter 82 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code or the applicable state code when the fracking site is located outside of Texas. 

Contact an Attorney for Fracking Accident Lawsuits

When you are ready to take the next step, give us a call. Our legal team is highly regarded across the nation for getting the compensation and verdicts that matter for clients. Give us a call at 866-974-0818 or complete our contact form today so we can help you get compensated for injuries sustained at work on a fracking site or from silica exposure.

 

Sources
http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/24/investing/fracking-shale-oil-boom/
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/oilgaswelldrilling/
http://www.shalegas.energy.gov/resources/060211_earthworks_natural_gas_flowback.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6420a4.htm
http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/11434-fracking-and-worker-safety
https://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/hydraulic_frac_hazard_alert.html
https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=OSHACT&p_id=3375
www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/overview-the-jones-act-seamens-injuries.html
www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/ocsla.htm
www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CP/htm/CP.82.htm