Injured Because of a Louisiana Pipeline Spill? Money Damages are Available!

June 21, 2022 General

Injured Because of a Louisiana Pipeline Spill? Money Damages are Available!

If you suffer injuries because of a pipeline spill, here in Louisiana, you can sue, and if your case is proven, you can recover money damages as compensation for your injuries or damage to property. There are a lot of pipelines here in Louisiana and there is a lot of oil and natural gas drilling. Sadly, oil and other chemical spills are frequent and they cause serious injuries to those nearby. For example, as reported here, on or about December 27, 2021, a pipeline near New Orleans broke open and spilled nearly 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Diesel is a highly toxic petroleum product that can kill and cause serious long-lasting injury for those coming into direct contact with it, particularly in large quantities.

Fortunately, the spill was mostly captured by what are called “borrow pits’” and, as reported, most of the fuel was recovered by the pipeline owners. However, thousands of fish, birds, and other animals were killed. Of course, the investigation continues and there may have been injuries. And there may be long-term effects on groundwater and soil contamination. Here is a brief explanation of legal liability for chemical spills here in Louisiana. If you think you have been injured because of a chemical spill, you need to seek the legal advice and counsel of experienced toxic tort attorneys like the ones at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC.

Who might be legally liable for paying compensation?

There are a number of parties that might be legally liable for payment of money damages as compensation when a chemical spill happens. For example, the landowner might be liable. Landowners have legal and statutory duties to keep their property free from unreasonable hazards. The current landowner could be liable for unsafe conditions as well as previous landowners, depending on the facts, if they caused the condition.

The owners of the pipeline are also prime suspects for fault. In this case, as reported, the owners of the pipeline have been cited by federal authorities for allowing the pipeline to become corroded. For example, according to the report, external corrosion was revealed along a 22-foot section of the 42-year old pipeline in October 2020. This was in the same general area as where the December 27th spill occurred. Further, the owner of the pipeline has delayed the needed repairs. Failure to repair and failure to keep the pipeline safe can be the basis for legal liability.

Others that might be legally liable include:

  • The owner of the owner of the pipeline — in this case, the pipeline owner is a subsidiary of a company headquartered in New Jersey
  • Previous owners of the pipeline, if any, and, again, depending the specific facts
  • The operator of the pipeline (if different than the owner)
  • Any contractor or company engaged in the repair and upkeep of the pipeline or responsible for repair and upkeep
  • The producers of the diesel fuel, depending on the facts

How is liability imposed?

In Louisiana, legal liability is imposed through statutes and other laws. Generally, the laws of negligence apply which means that it must be shown that a land or business owner breached at least one duty owed to those who have been injured. As noted, landowners owe a duty to keep their land free from unreasonable hazards. Breach that duty and liability will be imposed. In a similar way, federal and state regulations imposed many duties on pipeline owners and operators. One such duty is to keep the pipeline free from corrosion which can cause spillage. In this case, it seems that the pipeline owner failed in that duty. As such, legal liability seems likely under the facts reported in the article. The article also notes that federal regulators have initiated six enforcement cases against the owner of this pipeline since 2007 and, in 2011, the company was given a warning for not conducting external corrosion tests frequently enough. These are further indications that the company breached its duties and could be held legal liability.

What compensation can be recovered? 

In general, the money damages that can be recovered as compensation include medical bills for immediate treatment and for longer-term treatments, lost wages and income if the injury causes the victim to be unable to work, emotional injuries like fear, anxiety and distress, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Our Attorneys Can Help

For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including toxic torts, car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.