Lake Charles Plant Explosion Lawyer

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Louisiana relies on the work of the employees at plants and refineries across the state. These are high-risk forms of work, with hazards from heavy and dangerous machinery, harmful substances, and other dangers. One uncommon but incredibly catastrophic hazard in many plants is a plant explosion. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an explosion, you need a Lake Charles plant explosion lawyer to help determine how to recover compensation and hold the negligent parties at fault.

Although there are times when plant explosions cannot be prevented, there are many cases where safety requirements are skipped to save money. Employees are often put at significant risk by the negligence and greed of the employers, owners, and companies they work for. Lax safety can result in many dangers, including plant explosions. These explosions can leave employees and others with debilitating, disfiguring, and permanently disabling injuries if they survive the event. Many families lose loved ones in these catastrophes.

When you or a loved one is injured or killed, you suffer significant financial and emotional losses. These damages may be covered by workers’ compensation for employees and their surviving families. However, this is not always applicable, and workers’ compensation claims may not recover all the losses you suffered. If the company or employer was negligent, injured parties and surviving family members may be able to file a civil claim. An attorney can review your case and determine how to maximize your benefits.

Experienced Attorneys Who Can Help After a Plant Explosion in Calcasieu Parish

An explosion at an industrial plant can change your life and the lives of your family forever. It is essential that your damages are financially compensated so that you can maintain stability, take time to heal, and adapt to significant changes and losses in your life. A claim is most likely to succeed with a qualified and dedicated attorney.

At the Cox Law Firm, we want to help. Our team has over 135 years of collective legal experience, including personal injury claims, workers’ compensation claims, and both individual and class-action claims. Whether you are an injured employee, a grieving family member, or an individual harmed due to the carelessness of the industrial company, you deserve compensation and to hold that party accountable. We understand the difficult situation you are in and can provide you with support.

Whether you are dealing with a disability, other long-term injuries, or the death of a loved one, filing and negotiating a claim against an employer’s workers’ compensation provider or another insurance provider is not easy. You may be unsure how you can obtain compensation, where to file, or how to calculate your claim’s value. At the Cox Law Firm, we can provide legal support throughout your entire claim.

Our team can help by negotiating on your behalf after investigating the accident, its cause, and the damages you are owed. At our firm, we work together to secure the most benefits for you and your claim.

Understanding Plant Explosions in Louisiana and Lake Charles

There are many types of industrial plants and refineries in the state, including oil and natural gas drilling rigs and refineries, petrochemical plants, timber and agriculture plants, and machinery manufacturers.

Industrial plant explosions are some of the most devastating accidents that can occur in plants and refineries. They can be caused by many potentially dangerous situations, including:

  • Chemical reactions
  • Dangerous spills
  • Electrical hazards
  • Machinery malfunctions

These disasters have immediate and catastrophic effects on those in the building, including employees, contractors, visitors, and bystanders. A plant explosion can cause numerous deaths instantly. Injuries can be catastrophic and fatal. Plant explosions can also affect those who live and work in the vicinity, even if they are not in the plant.

Depending on the kind of plant and the cause of the explosion, these detonations can also have potential long-term environmental effects on the land and communities surrounding the plant, impacting those in homes and businesses. When these tragedies happen, those who are injured, suffer damages, or even lose loved ones in the accident may be able to recover compensation through workers’ compensation or other avenues.

What Are the Causes of Plant Explosions?

Industrial plants have many hazards and dangerous conditions, such as high heat, pressure, and hazardous chemicals, that create the potential for explosions. The creation of safety guidelines and requirements can help limit these dangers, but they must be followed properly to be effective. Sometimes, an explosion in an industrial plant is unavoidable, even when all proper care is taken. Unfortunately, there are many times when the explosion could have been avoided.

To determine the cause of an explosion, a thorough and complete investigation must happen. Some common causes of industrial plant and refinery explosions include:

Faulty Equipment

Employees in plants and refineries use many tools and machines in their work. Malfunctions of this equipment can result in injury, fatalities, and even an explosion in some cases. Electrical malfunctions and hazards can be especially dangerous.

If this equipment has inherent hazards when used properly, then the manufacturer, designer, or distributor of the machine or its components can be held liable. For employees, this claim for a product defect may be filed in addition to a workers’ compensation claim.

Improper Maintenance

Faulty machines, tools, and vehicles can also be caused by a failure of maintenance. This equipment suffers regular wear and tear that must be addressed through replacement or repair. Boilers, furnaces, wells, and containers for chemicals must be reviewed and maintained.

If employees do not perform maintenance and employers do not ensure this process, it can be very dangerous. Any sparks or fires can result in an explosion in plants where there is significant air pressure and/or high temperatures.

Failure to Follow Safety Requirements

Employers are responsible for safe work environments, and this includes following and implementing the safety procedures listed by state and federal bodies, such as the state and federal versions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These requirements cover:

  • The personal protective gear and tools for employees
  • How dangerous chemicals and other substances are handled
  • How the building should be constructed
  • How to check for potential hazards

Inadequate Training of Employees

Employers are responsible for ensuring that employees are trained properly and are well-versed in safety procedures. When employees do not have the right training, machinery can be used improperly, or chemicals can be incorrectly stored, which can have significant consequences. Inadequately trained employees may also not know what protective gear they must be using, which can cause significant personal and plant-wide risks.

Improper Storage of Hazardous Substances

Many plants and refineries work with hazardous substances, chemicals, and flammable materials. Mislabeling chemicals, improper storage of substances, and corrosive chemicals can all be hazardous. If chemicals are stored or mixed together, toxic spills and explosions can occur.

Many of the causes of these explosions are preventable. Employers and companies frequently focus on the profit they can gain over the safety and health of their employees, and this failure can result in significant harm. The cause of an industrial plant explosion is important for determining who is liable for the accident and the resulting injuries. An attorney is essential, as they can conduct their own investigation to determine the cause and liability in the accident.

Determining Liability for an Explosion

In some cases, you do not have to prove that a party was negligent to receive compensation. Under workers’ compensation claims, covered employees are compensated for on-the-job injuries, regardless of who was at fault. In product liability claims, manufacturers are strictly liable for damages caused by unreasonably dangerous products.

If negligence is required, such as in a civil personal injury or wrongful death claim, there are elements that have to be proven. To hold a party liable for your injuries, you must prove the following:

  1. Duty: They owed you a duty of care to act reasonably and with consideration for your well-being.
  2. Breach: They breached this duty of care through negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
  3. Causation: Their breach of duty of care caused or led to the explosion.
  4. Damages: You suffered an injury and other financial losses.

The most common at-fault parties for a plant or refinery explosion include:

  • The company itself
  • The operator of the plant
  • The owner of the building
  • The employer
  • Contractors on site
  • Third-party vendors

An attorney is necessary to determine the at-fault party, proof of negligence, and other important evidence. They can use their firm’s resources to carry out an investigation into these matters. Depending on the circumstances of the explosion, and your injury or loss, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim as well as a civil claim. Your attorney can determine the most effective way to hold the responsible parties accountable and obtain the most compensation.

What Are the Common Injuries Sustained in Explosions?

Industrial plant and refinery explosions can result in many catastrophic and fatal injuries, including:

  • Blunt force trauma injuries, such as bruises, head and face trauma, traumatic brain injuries, like concussions, and internal injuries.
  • Penetrating trauma injuries from explosion debris, causing lacerations, cuts, internal organ damage, eye injuries, and other injuries.
  • Inhalation injuries from breathing in dangerous chemicals, smoke, and debris, causing lung damage, damage to ears, harm to internal organs, and long-term developmental illnesses.

These catastrophes can also cause:

  • Fractured and broken bones
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Partial or total paralysis
  • Limb loss and amputation
  • Hearing loss
  • Disfiguring injuries
  • Severe fire and chemical burns
  • Internal injuries
  • Vision loss
  • Toxic substance poisoning
  • Crushing injuries

Those involved in explosions also frequently suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other long-term psychological harm. These mental injuries, as well as injuries like traumatic brain injuries and inhalation injuries, can be hard to diagnose. Brain injuries may not show symptoms for days or weeks after the injury was sustained. After an explosion in a plant that you were in or affected by, you should always get medical care, even if you don’t think you were injured.

These injuries can cause long-term harm and psychological damage. They can also be incredibly expensive to treat and heal. In addition to significant medical costs, an injured individual may be unable to return to their prior work or engage in any gainful employment. This can compound the financial issues that an individual or family suffers after these serious incidents. It’s important to determine how these losses can be compensated through a workers’ compensation or civil claim.

What Damages Are Available in an Explosions Settlement in Calcasieu Parish?

The compensation that you can recover after a plant explosion depends on the type of claim that you can file. In a workers’ compensation claim, you are able to recover your medical costs and a portion of your lost wages. For some individuals, this is all the compensation they are able to obtain. Workers’ compensation claims do not recover full wages or noneconomic damages.

If there was significant negligence and/or a third party is responsible for the accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. If you are not an employee, a civil claim may be your only way of obtaining compensation, which means you must prove negligence.

If you are able to file a civil personal injury claim, and you prove that a party is liable, you can recover any damages you suffered from the explosion. This means that your final settlement amount is dependent on the cost and severity of your injuries, other financial losses, and the emotional impact of your injuries. The compensation you can file for includes:

  • Recent and current medical bills, such as surgeries, hospital transportation, and prescriptions
  • Expected medical bills, such as long-term care, physical therapy, and rehabilitation
  • Anticipated costs of complications for your type of injury
  • Lost income during your recovery period
  • Lost earning capacity if you are permanently disabled or incapacitated and unable to complete gainful employment
  • Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium

These damages are all compensatory damages that are meant to recover a loss. In cases where the at-fault party is found to have been grossly negligent, the court may also assign punitive damages. Rather than compensating for a loss, these damages exist to punish the at-fault party and prevent similar actions in the future.

What Are the Other Effects of a Plant Explosion?

In addition to causing immediate and long-term harm to those in the building, an explosion in a plant can lead to many other negative effects. One of these impacts is the long-term financial impact that the explosion has on a community. Repair and clean-up work, coupled with a significant source of job loss, can severely harm the local community.

The other major impact of a plant explosion is the environmental effect on the surrounding communities. Depending on the type of plant or refinery, different hazardous chemicals may enter the air, water, and soil. This can impact wildlife and the use of certain types of land. Even more significantly, it can contaminate water supplies and the air that people breathe. It can also increase people’s exposure to hazardous materials, causing long-term illnesses.

When many people are affected by the pollution and environmental impact of an industrial plant explosion, they may be able to file a class-action claim.

Why Do I Need an Experienced Plant Explosion Attorney?

There are several benefits to working with an attorney after a plant explosion. A lawyer can advise you from the beginning if it is worthwhile to file for damages. When you are represented by an attorney, your claim is more likely to succeed and reach a higher settlement. There are several tasks that your plant explosion attorney can help with, including:

Filing Your Claim Correctly

An attorney has experience filing claims, and they have the legal knowledge of state and local requirements for filing. Whether you are filing a civil claim or a workers’ compensation claim, an attorney knows the deadlines and the most beneficial way to craft the claim.

Investigating the Accident

To hold someone liable in a civil claim, fault must be determined. Your attorney can investigate the cause of the explosion and the party or parties who may be at fault. Even if you are only filing a workers’ compensation claim, a thorough investigation is very important in case there are other avenues of compensation available to you.

A qualified attorney can use their firm’s resources to interview witnesses, employees, and employers. They can also find essential documentation on equipment, machinery, and safety procedures. This information can be vital to your claim. An attorney can help you determine what options you have and how to get the most compensation.

Determining Your Claim’s Value

Many injured individuals underestimate their claim’s value because they calculate their initial financial losses. An attorney knows the likely future costs and complications that should be covered as well as future losses to income.

Noneconomic damages are incredibly difficult to calculate accurately, but an attorney has significant experience doing so. They can review your damages and the mental and personal impact that your injuries have had on you. From that, they can determine the fair level of noneconomic damages.

Negotiating With Insurance Agencies

You may be filing with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider or with another insurance provider. These providers should give you the compensation that your claim is worth, but that isn’t often what happens. Unfortunately, the parties who may be responsible for an industrial explosion will focus on saving money more than the well-being of employees, bystanders, or their family members.

Negotiating while you are injured and without a true understanding of your claim’s value means that you will likely accept a settlement that does not cover your damages. An attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance providers, as they know what your claim is truly worth. Additionally, rather than dealing with negotiations, you are able to focus on recovering from your injuries.

Bringing the Claim to Court

In some situations, an insurance provider refuses to provide appropriate compensation for a good-faith claim. If there are no options through negotiation, and you would get the most compensation from litigation, your attorney may bring your claim to court. They can then present your case to the court and advocate for the most compensation that you deserve.

A claim against negligent parties can not only ensure that you get the compensation you need to remain financially stable, but it may also prevent the same negligence in the future.

Plant and Refinery Explosions and Wrongful Death Claims

Explosions in industrial plants frequently result in fatalities. Deaths from the explosion may be instantaneous, or an individual may suffer catastrophic injuries that they die from at a later date. Their surviving families are left with a devastating loss, along with additional financial instability and losses due to their family member’s death.

Surviving family members may have some benefits under the workers’ compensation system. In other situations, families can file wrongful death claims. An attorney can help you determine the sort of claim you can file. These claims can be essential to your family’s financial security while holding the party who is at fault accountable for their actions.

Wrongful death claims cover damages such as:

  • Funeral costs
  • The cost of a burial or cremation
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
  • Any medical costs caused by the explosion and before the individual’s death
  • The financial loss of wages, benefits, future support, and inheritance
  • The emotional loss of support and companionship

It can be difficult to navigate these claims after losing a loved one. An attorney can guide you through the process to protect your rights and give you the support you need.

The Cox Law Firm: Protecting Your Rights After a Plant Accident

When employers, operators, or companies choose profit over the safety and lives of their employees, they should be held accountable. A plant explosion can have devastating consequences on individuals, families, and communities, and these consequences should be compensated for. At the Cox Law Firm, we believe in supporting our community.

If you have suffered injuries from a plant or refinery explosion in Lake Charles, our team can provide effective and compassionate legal representation. The sooner you begin working with us, the quicker we can investigate and begin building your claim. Contact our team today to learn how we can help.

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