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Oil pipeline accidents are a growing concern across the United States. 

In just the past few years, there have been numerous high-profile accidents resulting in environmental damage, injuries, and even deaths. 

Fortunately, there are a number of legal options available to those affected by oil pipeline accidents. At Stewart + Harmonson, we have helped many clients successfully navigate the complex legal process following an oil pipeline accident in New Mexico. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common reasons for oil pipeline accidents, liability, types of compensation available to victims, and how to file a claim.

What are the most common reasons for oil pipeline accidents?

There are many reasons why oil pipeline accidents happen. A few of the most common reasons include:

  • Construction or maintenance errors

For example, if construction workers accidentally hit a pipe running through a person’s yard and the pipe is dug up, the operator of the machine involved in the dig-up might end up damaging some part of an underground pipe system running under someone else’s property.

  • Equipment failure

Corrosion in even brand new equipment can trigger major safety issues. Equipment failures often occur due to overheating or when outside conditions cause malfunctions. This can happen during winter months when temperatures drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit and pressures from those cold temperatures make their way into the metal equipment and pipes, which can rupture.

  • Natural disasters

Heavy rains, flash flooding, hurricanes, and other natural disasters can also damage or destroy pipelines. If a pipeline is located in an area that is prone to these types of events, it’s important for the operator to take extra precautions to prevent accidents from happening.

  • Poor design or inadequate testing

In some cases, accidents happen because the pipeline itself was not designed properly or was not tested adequately before it went into service.

Who is liable?

Under federal law, the company that owns or operates the pipeline is responsible for any damages caused by their pipeline, regardless of how the accident happened. 

The company may try to pass the blame onto someone else, such as the manufacturer of the equipment or the construction company that installed the pipeline. However, if a court finds that the company was negligent in any way, they will be held liable for damages.

The company at fault can be your direct employer, or a third party. When you are involved in a pipeline accident, you need to get to the bottom of who is involved.

Close to 82 percent of large-diameter pipeline miles and 62% of all pipeline miles in the United States are controlled by a small number of companies.

Your claim may be against a big international, national, or regional business, so it’s critical that you have experienced counsel from oil pipeline accident attorneys such as those at Stewart + Harmonson in New Mexico.

Legal options for oil pipeline accident victims

There are a few legal options that are available following an oil pipeline accident. These options can include pursuing a lawsuit against the company responsible for the accident, filing a claim with the pipeline’s insurance company, or seeking damages from the state or federal government.

Each of these options has its own benefits and drawbacks, and it is important to speak with an attorney to determine which option is best for your situation.

  • A lawsuit may provide you with the most compensation. 
  • Filing a claim with an insurance company may be less expensive and quicker, but the payout may be smaller. 
  • Seeking damages from the government can be the quickest and easiest option, but it is also unlikely to provide you with a large amount of money.

No matter what option you choose, it is important to act quickly. There are deadlines for filing lawsuits and claims, and if you miss these deadlines, you may be barred from taking any legal action.

What types of compensation are available to victims?

Victims of oil pipeline accidents can often receive compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

In most cases, the company responsible for the accident will try to settle out of court. However, if the company is unwilling to provide fair compensation, victims can file a lawsuit.

Filing a claim can be a complex and time-consuming process. If you have been affected by an oil pipeline accident, it’s important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to review your case and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

Contact Stewart + Harmonson Today

Oil pipeline accidents can have a devastating impact on victims and their families. But an experienced attorney will be able to review your case and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

At Stewart + Harmonson in New Mexico, we have years of experience representing victims of pipeline accidents. We understand the complex legal process involved in filing a claim and will fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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