Watch Out When Working Offshore!

By Oct 31, 2018 Posted in Jones Act

Offshore workers work hard.  Their days are long, the working conditions are harsh, and they have few of the creature comforts that many people take for granted.  Because of the long days and harsh working conditions, offshore workers are well compensated and lead fairly comfortable lives (as long as there is work out there). During the oil boom in 2011, the average salary of a offshore worker and other industrial personnel was nearly $100,000 a year.  Currently, Petroleum Pump and System Operators earn a little more than $65,000 a year, Equipment Operators earn more than $60,000 a year, and Engineers can earn more than $130,000 a year.  But just as working offshore as a seaman or an engineer can be profitable, it is also very, very dangerous. Often times, workers blame themselves for getting hurt on the job.  But it’s not always their fault.  And even if a worker bears some responsibility for getting hurt, that does not mean someone else did not contribute. OFFSHORE WORKERS FACE ON-THE-JOB HAZARDS EVERY SINGLE DAY THEY SHOW UP TO WORK Offshore workers face hazards every day they go to work.  Slippery decks, heavy equipment, casual maintenance, ineffective or absent training practices create the perfect environment for serious head injuries—a powder keg ready to explode. And when that powder keg does explode, sometimes a hardworking, tough person finds themselves life flighted to a hospital and diagnosed with a traumatic brain or head injury.  Traumatic brain and head injuries are some of the most horrific […]

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Help Me! I’ve Been Hit By an 18-Wheeler… What Do I Do Now?

By Oct 31, 2018 Posted in Trucking Accidents

An 18-wheeler accident is difficult to imagine, much less live through.  Despite the large number of 18-wheelers on our roads and highways, nobody really expects to be involved in an accident with one.  Nevertheless, motorists continue to share roads throughout the country with these massive vehicles.  The effects of an 18-wheeler accident are devastating.  18-wheelers are often 20-30 times the size and weight of other vehicles on the road and have the ability to tear through cars, trucks, and SUV’s, leaving behind death and debris. Most people wouldn’t be surprised to learn that 18-wheelers don’t stop as quickly as ordinary vehicles, or that 18-wheeler drivers usually cannot respond to sudden traffic changes as nimbly as drivers of cars, trucks, and SUV’s.  Most people know that commercial trucks are involved in a disproportionate number of serious and fatal accidents.  But people may be startled to learn the actual figures—eleven percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths were the result of large trucks, including 18 wheelers, and ninety-seven percent of the people killed in crashes between a passenger vehicle and large truck were occupants of the passenger vehicle. WHY DO THESE ACCIDENTS HAPPEN? There is no definitive list with every single cause for 18-wheeler accidents, but trucking companies and drivers often push too hard for too long.  Unfortunately, when a driver gets tired, cuts corners on maintenance or improperly loads his trailer, accidents can happen.  Other common causes of truck accidents include: Inattention; Drug use; Driver intoxication; Poor driver training and little […]

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How Pipeline Transportation leads to Gas Explosions?

By Oct 30, 2018 Posted in Pipeline Explosions and Incidents

Pipeline transportation is one of the most cost-effective methods to transport natural gases and hazardous liquid products to homes and businesses across the nation. Pipeline transportation can be one of the safest methods of energy transportation when it is properly maintained. Pipeline infrastructure is vital to industry, energy security, and economic well-being in the United States. Per the American Gas Association, there are more than 73 million residential, commercial, and industrial natural gas customers in the United States. As well, natural gas meets more than one-fourth of the United States’ energy needs. Many Americans use natural gas to heat their homes, warm their water, and cook their food. Natural gas is affordable for homes and businesses to use as an efficient energy source for water heaters, vehicles, laundry, kitchen, heating, lighting, and outdoor living spaces. Natural gas is an energy source used everywhere you may go–from homes to schools, stores, hotels restaurants, and hospitals. As the United States continues to develop, and more demands are placed on energy transportation, it becomes necessary to invest in upgrading infrastructure, including these aging pipelines. How is Natural Gas Distributed? Natural Gas is a fossil fuel found deep beneath the earth’s surface. It is primarily made of methane and is composed of four hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom and is one of the cleanest fossil fuels. Natural gas is extracted from the ground and is distributed to consumers through a network of pipelines which span nearly 2.5 million miles national wide. The gas […]

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Morrow & Sheppard Wins $1.1MM Settlement For Injured Railroad Worker

By Oct 18, 2018 Posted in FELA Railroad Injuries

Our client was injured while working on the railroad as a “carman” or “mechanical inspector.”  At the time, he was riding on an all-terrain vehicle alongside a parked train, inspecting train car connections called “couplings.”  As our client was inspecting a coupling, the ATV lurched forward unintentionally, causing our client to fall forward, striking a train car and then the ground.  Our client claimed the fall caused injuries to his arm and shoulder. We filed a lawsuit under the Federal Employers Liability Act or “FELA.”  We alleged that the ATV lurched forward because it was not properly maintained and was defective. Railroad Denies Responsibility The railroad denied responsibility.  Initially, the railroad claimed that the incident never occurred and was made up.  Then, the railroad claimed there was nothing wrong with the ATV, and that even if it lurched forward, it did so because our client left the vehicle in gear, and did not set the parking brake. Later, the railroad claimed our client was not injured.  Then, the railroad claimed our client’s injuries were pre-existing.  And it was true, by the way, that our client had sustained significant past injuries, including an injury to the same shoulder that was re-injured in the incident.  Under the FELA, however, the railroad is responsible for re-aggravation of a pre-existing injury. Railroad Rejects Reasonable Settlement Offers Our client was initially willing to settle for approximately 1/3 of what the case ultimately settled for.  The railroad rejected our offers and threatened to take the case […]

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Are Parents Liable When Their Children Injure Others?

By Oct 17, 2018 Posted in Personal Injury

  Our personal injury attorneys have handled cases in which our clients have been injured by the negligence of a minor, typically one who was not being adequately supervised. Often, the minor’s parents feel responsible.  They frequently believe they have purchased insurance to cover such a situation. Unfortunately, the decision regarding whether or not insurance money should be paid typically does not rest with the person who has purchased the insurance policy (the “insured”).  This is true even though the insured has been dutifully paying premiums to the insurance company for years. Unfortunately, the decision to pay or settle a claim rests with the insurance company.  And the insurance company does not act out of moral obligation.  They are making a cold, hard business decision. In other words, you have to prove to the insurance company that their insured owes money.  They have to fear that if they do not pay, they will be sued for failing to act reasonably in settling a claim.  (In Texas liability insurance cases, this is called the “Stowers Doctrine.”). Our lawyers have persuaded insurance companies to accept responsibility in numerous cases. Texas Legal Principles:  Parental Responsibility Depending on the facts and jurisdiction, a parent may be held liable for personal injuries or “torts” caused by their children, including under the doctrines of respondeat superior, joint enterprise, and agency.  Sanders v. Herold, 217 S.W.3d 11 (Tex. App. Houston 1st Dist. 2006, no pet.); Rodriguez v. Spencer, 902 S.W.2d 37, 42 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, no […]

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M&S Wins $1.3MM Settlement For Potato Gun Injury

By Oct 17, 2018 Posted in Dangerous Drugs & Products

Houston and nationwide personal injury lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP won a $1,305,000.00 settlement for a person injured by a potato gun, also known as a “spud gun.”  The settlement is believed to be one of the largest, if not the largest, reported settlement in a case of this type.  Our lawyers recovered every penny of the available insurance. What Is A Potato Gun? A potato gun also referred to as a “spud gun” or “potato cannon,” is a pipe-based cannon.  Potato cannons use either gas combustion or pneumatic air pressure to launch projectiles, usually potatoes, at high speed.  Occasionally dry ice is used as a propellant. Combustion launchers utilize (1) a fuel system, often hairspray; (2) a combustion chamber; (3) an ignition source, often a lantern switch or barbecue lighter; and (4) a barrel, often a piece of polyvinyl chloride or “PVC” pipe. Here is a video of a potato gun in action: While potato guns may seem like innocent fun, they are very dangerous, causing scores of injuries and even deaths. Potato Guns Are Very Dangerous Potato guns are capable of firing projectiles 500 yards, or even farther. A 2013 Colorado study found that acetylene propellant potato guns can achieve a muzzle velocity of 138.1 m/s, approximately 310 miles per hour.  Other propellants also achieved gun-level velocity, as follows: Credit:  Courtney, E.D.S. and M.W., Studying the Internal Ballistics of a Combustion Driven Potato Cannon using High-speed Video (2013). The study concluded, “Careless handling of a potato cannon […]

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7 Common Causes of Oilfield Accidents

By Oct 16, 2018 Posted in Oilfield Injuries

Oilfields can be very dangerous places. Read on to learn about the top seven causes of oilfield accidents.

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What Exactly is Workers’ Compensation?

By Oct 5, 2018 Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation originated as a response to modern industrial development and is legislation which sought to address the inadequate remedies which were available under already existing causes of action. The underlying philosophy of workers’ compensation involves the idea that workplace accidents are an inevitable reality in the modern industry. The burden of those accidents shouldn’t put on those who may be victims in such accidents. The Texas Workers’ Compensation Act was enacted by the Texas Legislature to provide a mechanism for injured employees to recover, regardless of the injured worker’s negligence, while reducing the exposure from uncertain and possibly high damages under other available actions. However, Workers’ Compensation coverage is not mandated and only comes into play when the employer chooses to purchase it. Main Difference Between Workers’ Compensation Claims and Personal Injury Claims The main difference between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims is under a workers’ compensation claim; the injured employee does not have the burden to prove fault to collect benefits from the employer (provided that the employee got injured on the job and the employer already has workers’ compensation). However, this does not come without its disadvantages. Compensation does include weekly benefits, permanent impairment benefits, rehabilitation expenses, and medical expenses. For those who are severely injured, damages such as pain and suffering, available under a personal injury claim, are barred from recovery. For those who suffer severe injuries, recovery is robust only from a medical perspective. Many employees are under the false impression that if […]

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Another Hard Worker Injured in a Water Treatment Plant Explosion

By Oct 1, 2018 Posted in Personal Injury

Fortunately for the million or so Chicago residents who depend on the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant for water, the explosion should not markedly interfere with their ability to get H20 from the tap. Unfortunately, and often the case, another hard-working person has been injured on the job. Calumut Water Treatment Plant On August 30, 2018 at about 11:00 a.m., Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago received a call about an explosion at the sludge concentration building at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant in Chicago, Illinois. The roof of the building caved downwards in what is called a pancake explosion. Ten people were hurt in an explosion and building collapse—one of the victims was entombed for almost two hours. During the two-hour rescue, firefighters used airbags and hydraulics to lift thousands of pounds of concrete and other debris.  The trapped worker suffered fractures to his legs and face. Workers were at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant to do maintenance. According to reports, the explosion was caused by a worker’s torch that ignited methane gas. All of the injured workers were listed in “serious to critical condition as they were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the University of Chicago Medical Center, Stroger Hospital, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.” The plant is the oldest of seven Metropolitan Water Reclamation District treatment centers, beginning operation in 1922. What We Do at Morrow & Sheppard LLP At Morrow and Sheppard LLP, we specialize in providing legal counsel to people who have been injured.  We […]

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DEA Plane Collides into Family in Crash-Landing on Texas Street

By Sep 21, 2018 Posted in Personal Injury

Morrow & Sheppard LLP represent a Tesla X driver and his family members whose car was hit by a plane on September 19, 2018. A plane carrying three special agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), onboard for a training mission, crashed into a Tesla Model X after performing an emergency landing on a public roadway in Sugar Land, Texas on Wednesday afternoon. The single-engine Cessna plane was supposed to land at the Sugar Land Regional Airport around 3:00 p.m. on September 19th. Instead, the plane crashed into a powerline before hitting two cars, according to the Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, Lynn Lunsford. Lunsford also stated that the pilot reported engine problems before the crash had occurred. The Federal Aviation Administration will assist with the investigation into the crash, but the National Transportation Safety Board is the lead investigator on this crash. Wendell Campbell, a DEA Houston Division Special Agent, said, “The plane had some mechanical difficulties, and they had to do an emergency landing.” Before plunging onto Voss Road, near Highway 6, the malfunctioning plane clipped power lines and struck several cars in its trajectory. Major Chad Norvell of the Fort Bend Sheriff’s County Office tweeted that the plane was leaking fuel but did not catch fire at the scene. During this emergency landing one of the three federal agents on the plane was injured and taken to the hospital. The agent was later released, and the other two agents were able to walk away from the crash with […]

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