Pennsylvania has long been a producer of coal and natural gas, and mining these valuable commodities contributes greatly to the state’s economy. However, in recent years natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale deposits and coal seam gas has become more common, and with it, serious accidents.
If you have suffered an injury that you believe is related to a fracking operation, you might be entitled to compensation. An Altoona fracking accident lawyer could investigate your case to determine whether negligence played a role in the incident that injured you. If so, a hardworking Altoona personal injury attorney could advise you about asserting a claim for monetary damages.
Common Accidents Associated With Fracking
Fracking presents a multitude of hazards. The process requires heavy machinery and harsh chemicals, and the fuel is highly flammable. Fracking operations utilize large tankers, dump trucks, and other over-sized commercial vehicles which could endanger neighborhood residents as well as workers on the site.
These hazardous industrial operations give rise to many different types of accidents. Catastrophic injuries from these accidents could include:
- Burns and pulmonary injuries from explosions
- Cancers, pregnancy loss, birth injuries, respiratory ailments, and other illnesses associated with exposure to toxic air or water pollution
- Amputations, fractures, soft tissue damage, crushing injuries, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries from heavy equipment accidents
Someone who is injured in an accident associated with hydraulic fracturing operations could seek damages with help from a local attorney. Negligent parties might include the owners of the fracking operation, independent truckers, contractors at the drilling site, equipment manufacturers, engineering firms, and any others whose actions or inaction contributed to the injury.
Injuries to Hydraulic Fracturing Workers
When an employee suffers an injury on a job site, he or she typically can pursue a worker’s compensation claim. Worker’s compensation pays an injured employee’s necessary medical expenses, a portion of his or her salary while he or she is off work, and might provide a lump sum payment if the worker suffers a permanent injury. In return for these benefits, the employee cannot sue the employer for negligence, although the injured worker can still recover workers’ compensation benefits even if he or she was at fault for the accident.
Mining company workers who are injured at fracking sites might not always be precluded from suing someone for damages. An experienced workplace injury lawyer in Altoona could assess the situation and determine whether an employee might have an opportunity to seek damages, such as from a third party that is not the worker’s employer. For example, many fracking operations employ a variety of independent contractors at the drill site. If a contractor caused the condition that led to an injury, the injured worker could sue the contractor for negligence in addition to collecting worker’s compensation benefits.
Workplace accidents could also be the result of malfunctioning or defective equipment. When a manufacturer’s negligence results in an injury to a worker, the employee could seek damages from the equipment manufacturer and distributor.
It falls on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant directly caused his or her injuries by being negligent. Negligence is a failure to act with the degree of care that a reasonable person would employ in similar circumstances.
Fracking accident cases can quickly become complicated as there might be multiple negligent parties. All parties whose negligence contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries could be liable for damages to cover medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses the individual suffered.
If it is determined the plaintiff bears some responsibility for the accident, 42 P.S. §7102 allows a plaintiff to recover damages from other parties whose negligence exceeds his or hers. Only when a plaintiff is more than 50 percent to blame for an accident will the law bar him or her from collecting damages. A seasoned Altoona lawyer could preserve an injured person’s right to collect damages by presenting evidence showing that others bore more responsibility for a fracking accident than the plaintiff.
Speak with an Altoona Fracking Accident Attorney Right Away
Fracking is a lucrative business and the companies engaged in it will exert every effort to protect their profits. If you have suffered an injury that is somehow related to hydraulic fracturing operations, you need a fearless advocate to represent your interests.
Contact an Altoona fracking accident lawyer at Marcus & Mack as soon after your injury as possible to schedule a case review. You have only a brief window to file a lawsuit, so time is of the essence.