Dallas Pipeline Accident Lawyers
Fighting for Texas pipeline workers who were injured on the job
Pipelines transport oil and natural gas through miles of pipelines across Texas and across the United States. The owners and managers of the pipelines need to build the pipelines according to industry standards and regularly maintain them as explosions are quite possible especially across older pipelines. While many pipeline workers live in Texas, pipeline work attracts workers from across the country.
At Slack Davis Sanger, our Dallas pipeline accident lawyers have the technical and legal experience to represent clients in these very complex cases. We work with experts to help show how and why the pipeline accident occurred, and with your medical providers to show just how devastating your injuries are. Our lawyers are skilled at holding the companies that cause pipeline accidents accountable for the injuries and deaths they cause. Contact us in Dallas today to learn more.
A recent incident near Dallas illustrates how dangerous pipeline accidents are. Two people died and three others were injured when a natural gas pipeline explosion occurred in Farmersville, Texas. The early reports indicate that the workers were conducting pipeline maintenance.
What are the types of oil and natural gas pipelines in and near Dallas?
Pipelines help provide heat, light, and fuel to homes and businesses across the country. The types of pipelines vary depending on what product is being transported, the stage of the delivery process, and the sector (upstream, midstream, or downstream). Common types of pipelines in the greater Dallas area include:
- Gathering pipelines. These pipelines deliver the “oil or gas product from the source to processing plants or storage tanks. These are commonly fed by ‘Flowlines’, each connected to individual wells in the ground.” The products include natural gas, crude oil, ethane, butane, and propane. The lengths of the pipes are comparatively short. Gathering pipelines are regulated – more so in heavily or moderately populated locations by agencies such as the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
- Transmission pipelines. These pipelines transport crude, natural gas and NGLs, and refined products. They operate at high pressures, so they may fail due to seam failures, material failures, corrosion, and defective welding.
- Distribution pipelines. These pipelines deliver natural gas to our homes and businesses. Mains are the step between the transmission pipelines and the service lines that directly feed into our buildings.
- Flowlines. Flowlines connect to a single wellhead and move crude oil to a collection point via gathering lines. Flowlines are one of the biggest causes of emissions, because they can – and do – leak methane.
- Feeder pipelines. These pipelines move crude, natural gas, and NGLs into the transmission pipelines from the storage facility.
The materials that are transported in any of these pipelines can be volatile and combustible. They can cause explosions and fires which can last for hours. Workers must be trained to act quickly in the event of an emergency.
What does the Railroad Commission of Texas have to do with pipelines?
The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) is the state’s oldest regulatory agency. While it no longer has anything to do with our railroads, it does have “regulatory jurisdiction over the oil and natural gas industry, pipeline transporters, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry, natural gas utilities, the LP-gas industry, and coal and uranium surface mining operations.” This means that if something goes wrong with a pipeline, the RRC is in charge of the investigation.
Why does this matter? Because RRC is in charge of enforcing state and federal regulations regarding pipelines, including maintenance and operation. As Texas has more than 225,000 miles of pipeline, investigations can take time. Slack Davis Sanger works in parallel with the RRC when conducting its own accident investigations on behalf of clients to ensure that we can move quickly on your claim.
What are the causes of pipeline accidents?
According to PHMSA, the leading causes of pipeline accidents are:
Corrosion. There are different types of corrosion including:
- External corrosion, such as interactions with water, soil, and air. Remedies include coating the exterior surface of the pipeline and cathodic protection – a form of electrical protection.
- Internal corrosion due to “contaminants naturally contained within the transported commodity, such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, other chemicals, or even water.”
- Stress corrosion, which results in pipeline cracks.
Excavation damage. Excavation damage is generally due to digging, grading, boring, or trenching. The damage may also be due to construction, road maintenance, and agricultural activities.
Material/weld failure. Newer pipelines have fewer impurities, but older pipes can fail – and there are a lot of older pipelines. The Wall Street Journal reports that “more than 60% of U.S. fuel pipelines were built before 1970, according to federal figures.”
Equipment failure. Pipeline workers in and near Dallas can be injured or killed due to defective pumps meters, tanks, compressors, valves, and other pipeline components and devices. While equipment failures normally don’t injure the public, they can result in the release of toxic gases or liquids.
Incorrect operation. Examples of improper operation include mistakes that may occur when directing the flow of fluid, draining or filling a vessel or tank, performing routine maintenance, or reacting to a condition on the pipeline. Workers who are improperly trained or supervised are more likely to make these types of errors.
Other causes of pipeline damage include damage to natural forces, faulty maintenance, improper installation of the pipeline, and failure to respond to and manage gas leaks.
What injuries do pipeline accidents cause?
In the most tragic cases, a pipeline worker or someone in the vicinity of the pipeline can die as a result of an accident, and they sometimes do. More often, however, pipeline workers suffer serious, life-threatening injuries. Those injuries can include:
- Burn injuries
- Brain injuries
- Limb loss
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Loss of vision
- Loss of hearing
At Slack Davis Sanger, our Dallas pipeline injury attorneys file claims on behalf of survivors, and wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of families. We demand full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, physical and mental pain and suffering, physical impairment and funeral and burial costs when applicable.
Why should I file a personal injury lawsuit after a pipeline accident?
While some Dallas-based pipeline companies offer workers’ compensation to employees, not everyone is eligible for this program. If you are a contractor, site visitor, passerby, or other non-employee, or if your company does not offer workers’ compensation, your only recourse would be a personal injury lawsuit against the pipeline company or the negligent party who caused your injuries. Even if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you may wish to file a third-party lawsuit instead, especially if your injuries are life-altering.
If your injuries were the result of a defective tool or other product, like a defective winch, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, instead. If multiple parties were injured, you may wish to join a class action lawsuit. Slack Davis Sanger can explain your options and help you make the best possible choice for yourself, your family, and your future.
Speak with an experienced Dallas pipeline accident lawyer today
At Slack Davis Sanger, our Dallas pipeline accident lawyers have a strong record of success settling personal injury cases and trying cases before a jury. To discuss your rights to hold pipeline owners and other liable for your injuries, please call us at 800-455-8686 or complete our contact form for a free case review.
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219
Main Dallas Practice Areas