Open Accessibility Menu
Hide
Experienced. Aggressive. Trial Lawyers.

Oil Refinery Accident Lawyers

Oil refineries utilize the process of refining crude oil so that it can be used for petroleum products such as gasoline and heating oil. Oil refinery plants are incredibly large and made up of miles of complicated piping and machinery. Just like any other plant, refineries need to be adequately maintained to prevent accidents from happening. When oil plants are not maintained, accidents happen.

Fortunately, Arnold & Itkin is here to help if you have been injured in a serious accident.
Our oil refinery accident attorneys have experience handling such disasters and will aggressively fight for your financial compensation and recovery.

Refinery explosions and fires rob people of their careers, their futures, and their lives. The impact of an explosion alone can be fatal or cause serious organ damage, and refinery fires can create burns externally and internally. Our oil refinery accident lawyers have committed ourselves to helping people rebuild their lives when an accident robbed them of their security and financial future. Every verdict or settlement helped our clients keep their homes, pay for groceries, and get the medical care they needed for the rest of their lives. In Houston, all over Texas and Louisiana, and throughout the nation, we have helped clients breathe easier and face the future without fear or shame. That's our calling. If you think there's a chance we could help you, contact us.

The Oil Refinery Explosion in Superior, WI

In April 2018, an oil refinery explosion took place in Superior, Wisconsin. The sonic boom was felt for miles, and more than 20 workers were hurt in the explosion. One worker said that the refinery was in the middle of shutting down for repairs when the accident occurred, causing a subsequent refinery fire that was put out twice after reigniting. The Chemical Safety Board, an organization that makes safety recommendations after oil refinery accidents, sent out a four-person team to investigate the cause of the explosion. They will likely release their report by the end of 2018.

Examining the Texas City Refinery Accident

A recent example of an oil refinery accident is the Texas City explosion of 2005. This refinery was old, and many speculated it was not adequately maintained. An investigation just before the explosion found that many pipes had worn too thin, concrete had chipped, and fumes had been leaking. The accident happened just before summer's high oil demand, so machines were likely running at high capacity at the time of the incident. The blast killed 15 workers and injured another 170. This one tragic accident serves to prove the importance of maintaining oil refineries so that they are safe. Such large and complicated plants require extensive check-ups to ensure that everything is running smoothly and safely.

Defective Equipment in Oil Refineries

One of the most common causes of plant accidents is defective equipment. Oil refineries are unique and need special maintenance to avoid accidents. Oil refineries function to process crude oil to turn it into different forms. This process is known as fractional distillation. The refining process involves heating the oil to extremely high temperatures, as high as 400 degrees Celsius, to distill and separate the different forms of oil. This process involves numerous pieces of vital machinery that, if poorly maintained, can cause serious accidents.

The vast machinery of an oil refinery includes:

  • Pipelines
  • Boilers
  • Storage tanks
  • Treatment tanks
  • Heaters
  • Pumps

Many factories today have access to safer technology, but continue to depend on equipment that is well past its replacement due date. Each part depends on the whole to function. When parts are defective, it creates catastrophic consequences. One report from the EU revealed that of 137 severe refinery incidents in the last 30 years, 1 in 5 was caused by unmaintained equipment that corroded and failed. Despite increased refinery knowledge and safety technology, defective equipment remains the leading factor in major plant accidents across the nation.

Malfunctioning Equipment in Oil Refineries

When equipment malfunctions, it can cause severe injuries. At oil refineries, an equipment malfunction is a cause for serious concern, which is precisely why employees should be properly trained for how to handle these types of malfunctions so that they do not escalate.

Oil refineries are made up of many units that need to be in place for the plant to function correctly, such as:

  • Desalter units
  • Alkylation unit
  • Coking units

Accidents in the past examined by the OHSA have shown the cause of the accident was malfunctioning equipment. It may be difficult to find the cause of an accident if the oil refinery plant sustained significant damage; however, a thorough investigation usually produces a reason.

A recent example of a plant explosion took place at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Connecticut. After an OHSA investigation, 400+ safety violations were found. This goes to show that accidents are often avoidable and can be prevented by staying on the watch for malfunctioning equipment.

Oil Refinery Accidents Caused by Unseen Corrosion

Corrosion is the gradual process by which metal is worn down. This wear and tear is naturally caused by the metal reacting to the surrounding environment. One example is the oxidation that occurs when metal is exposed to oxygen—often resulting in rust and a general weakening of the material. This oxidation can often be easy to spot, which is why machine inspectors are always on the lookout for any discoloration of metal pieces on any machinery. This can be a surefire sign of corrosion.

Corrosion can also occur when a metal is subject to high temperatures. This frequently occurs at an oil refinery plant because, to refine crude oil, the product must be heated to extreme temperatures in a process that is known as fractional distillation. When the metal is exposed to hot gas that contains contaminants, high-temperature corrosion can occur. One of the most common forms of this is sulfidation corrosion, which is a direct result of the sulfur compound that exists in crude oil. This starts when the temperature peaks at 500°F.

Other examples of corrosion that often occurs in refineries include:

  • High-Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA)
  • Stress Corrosion Cracking

Preventing Corrosion at Oil Refineries

Other than inspections, other steps can be taken to help prevent corrosion.

One example is using coatings on machinery. Some common forms of coatings include:

  • Plating
  • Painting
  • Enamel

There are more advanced reactive coatings that can electrically deter corrosion. All of these are considered "anti-corrosion" treatments, so any unprotected metal at an oil refinery is in danger of corroding, which is why inspectors should also always be on the lookout for any chipping paint at the plant. Preventing corrosion in oil refineries is a huge priority. Unfortunately, even though machine inspectors are always checking for it, that does not mean it is always caught. Corrosion may go unnoticed because it exists in crevices and other hard-to-see spaces or just because the procedure for checking it was lax. If that is the case, unseen corrosion can become a silent killer and can lead to serious accidents.

The Responsibility of Oil Refinery Owners & Managers

Employers are responsible for fostering a safe working atmosphere. Even if the employer is not present at the time of the accident, they may be found at fault. People are employed at oil refineries for the sole purpose of investigating equipment to ensure that it is in good working order. When they fail to carry out their job duties effectively, workers’ lives are put in danger, and resulting injuries can be attributed to their negligence. If you were involved in an oil refinery accident that was caused by defective equipment, don't assume it was unavoidable. Statistically speaking, your accident was not only preventable—someone may have known that it was likely to happen. Your employer, equipment manufacturer, or the plant owner may very well be found responsible for the equipment malfunction, allowing you to file a claim.

Trust Our Oil Refinery Accident Lawyers to Obtain Justice in Your Case

If you were injured in an oil refinery plant accident, then you may be entitled to compensation. At Arnold & Itkin, we have dealt with similar cases and obtained substantial recoveries for our clients. We fight hard for the rights of victims from Houston, Texas to cities all over Louisiana (as well as all over the United States). If you were the victim of an oil refinery accident anywhere nationwide, then we are ready to fight for you too. Our oil refinery accident attorneys believe there is no excuse for plant and refinery accidents of any sort.

If you believe any of the following caused your accident, call us:

  • Negligence and carelessness
  • Faulty or defective products
  • Lack of training or supervision
  • Dangerous workplace environments
  • Lack of maintenance or care

Even if you are unsure of whether or not you are entitled to a claim, it is worth it to talk to an oil refinery accident lawyer who can walk you through your options. You do not have to worry about being charged a significant fee, because not only are our consultations free, you do not have to pay a penny unless we win your case. Our contingency fee representation is just one thing that sets us apart from all the rest.

For legal service you can trust, contact our firm today. We can be reached at (888) 493-1629.

Recent Review

5 / 5 Stars

"They're very professional. They didn't back down. That's why I like my lawyers. Even when I had to do my testimony in court, they didn't let those lawyers run over me. They fought hard. You have some lions with Arnold & Itkin. They not going to back down."

-

Case Results

Check Out Our Victories

  • $171Million One of the Largest Confidential Settlements in History Arnold & Itkin worked over the course of several years to represent clients in a case that many other law firms turned down. In the end, we were able to obtain a record-setting confidential settlement of $171 million.
  • $97Million Massive Settlement Secured for Refinery Workers Arnold & Itkin is proud to share that after months of preparation for trial, our firm was able to secure a huge settlement for clients who were injured in a refinery fire. Find out more now.
  • $39.7Million Record Verdict Won for Victim of Industrial Accident Attorneys Kyle Findley and Adam Lewis obtained a record $39.744 million verdict on behalf of a client who was burned in a severe dust fire and explosion at a plywood plant in Corrigan, TX.
  • $18.5Million Second Verdict Won for 4 Victims of Geismar Explosion In our second trial on behalf of victims of the 2013 plant explosion in Geismar, LA, Arnold & Itkin won a massive verdict for 4 workers and their families. The verdict will go toward providing the extensive care they have required in the years since the explosion as well as the care they will need for the rest of their lives. This was the second of 2 massive verdicts Arnold & Itkin won against Williams Companies, Inc.
  • $15.5Million Massive Verdict Won for Geismar Explosion Victims Arnold & Itkin won a landmark verdict against Williams Companies, Inc. and child company Williams Olefins LLC for their part in the 2013 explosion that killed 2 workers and injured over 100 more. Williams Companies tried to blame the incident on their limited liability shell company, but the jury saw through the defense. They awarded 95% of the blame to Williams Companies, Inc. and gave our clients the money they needed for medical care.
  • $13.7Million Massive Settlement Won Only Months After Injury Arnold & Itkin represented a plant worker who was seriously injured in an accident on the job. Plant injuries are often complex, taking years to fully investigate and litigate. Fortunately, our firm’s work was able to secure a multi-million dollar settlement mere months after the injury took place. Now our client’s medical expenses and other needs are taken care of for the rest of his life.
  • $12Million Injured Worker Received Settlement for Burn Injuries Our industrial injury lawyers have recently recovered $12 million on behalf of a plant worker who suffered burns when a safety valve failed at the refinery where he was employed. His settlement will go toward providing him with extensive and long-term medical care. His employer chose to settle his case two weeks before trial was set to begin.
  • $11.7Million Settlement Won for Plant Worker Injured During Turnaround Attorneys Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin successfully recovered $11.75 million on behalf of a man who was injured while working a turnaround at an industrial plant. He was injured because he and his team were not informed of the plant’s dangers, and his family turned to Arnold & Itkin shortly afterward. Our team was able to get him money for his present and future medical expenses less than a year after he was injured.
  • $11.6Million Verdict Secured for a Worker Partially Blinded on the Job Our client was only offered $300,000 by the defendant for his near-total loss of sight in one eye, but the jury only deliberated for less than 2 days before they found the defendant guilty of defective equipment design. They gave our client an award of $11.6 million.
  • $4.97Million Settlement Reached for Orthopaedic Injury Victim Our team worked to represent a client who was severely injured while working at a chemical plant. He was performing construction and maintenance work at the time of the incident. In the end, our firm was successful in settling the case for $4.97 million.
  • $4.8Million Verdict Won for Bereaved Daughter Kurt Arnold recovered $4.8 million for a client whose father was killed after suffering a severe head injury in Port Arthur, Texas. Winning justice for grieving clients is a primary reason we became lawyers, and it's our honor to help clients like this one receive help.
  • $4Million Victim of Plant Explosion Received Millions in Settlement Arnold & Itkin attorneys represented a Mississippi man who was severely injured in a Texas refinery plant explosion. Cases like these require a high level of experience and investigative resources due to the myriad factors involved in a plant explosion. Our attorneys are proud to have helped our client receive a settlement of $4,000,000.
See All Results
“What I feel is that he never considered me as a number, never looked at me as a number. He looked at me as a person, as an individual who needs help, who needs guidance.” - Mildred Solar Cortes