Severe Injuries from CenterPoint Natural Gas Line Explosion in Harris County Texas
On the night of March 5, 2021, seven people were injured in a natural gas line explosion and fire that led to evacuations in northwest Harris County. According to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, a CenterPoint crew was excavating near a high-pressure natural gas line around 5:30 p.m. when the line was apparently hit and exploded. Seven people were injured.
This is unacceptable. If you or a loved one was injured as a result, call our burn injury attorneys at The de la Garza Law Group. Call 713-784-1010 or toll free at 844-784-1010. We may be able to help you get just compensation. We offer a free case evaluation.
In a split second, an accident can change the course of your life. Hospitalization, surgeries, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, missed work and outstanding medical bills can derail you and your family’s financial future.
At The de la Garza Law Group, we are here to help. Unlike other Houston personal injury law firms that churn large numbers of cases, we take a personal approach. We believe the best results come from building meaningful relationships with our clients. At The de la Garza Law Group, we take as much time as necessary to get to know you, how the accident has impacted your life, and make our team available to answer all of your questions. From there, our skilled Houston personal injury attorneys will work diligently to investigate, prepare, negotiate and, if necessary, litigate, your claim to ensure that you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
National Personal Injury Statistics:
According to a recent study, 70 percent of personal injury plaintiffs received some form of compensation, whether through settlement or trial.
• Ninety-six percent of these cases were resolved through settlement.
Injured parties represented by personal injury attorneys are more likely to recover for their injuries than unrepresented accident victims:
• Represented by an attorney: 91 percent received compensation
• Unrepresented: 51 percent received compensation
The average amount of compensation secured by accident victims is higher if they work with an attorney:
• Average recovery with an attorney: $77,600
• Average recovery without an attorney: $17,600
Accident victims who accepted the first settlement offer obtain less compensation for their injuries than those who accepted subsequent settlement offers:
• Average amount of the first settlement offer: $11,800
• Average amount of subsequent settlement offers: $42,500
Texas and Harris County Statistics:
Accidents are the fifth leading cause of death in Texas, claiming over 10,500 lives per year.
The leading causes of injury-related death in Texas are as follows:
• Motor vehicle accidents like car accidents and truck accidents: 22.4 percent
• Firearms: 21.4
• Drug-related (including overdoses and accidental poisoning): 18.3 percent
• Falls: 13.5 percent
• Suffocation: 9.2 percent
• Drowning: 2.4 percent
• Non-drug poisoning: 1.7 percent
• Fire- or Flame-related: 1.4 percent
Classifications of Burn Injuries
Medical experts classify burns into three categories, based on the damage to the skin and surrounding tissues. First-degree burns are the least serious, followed by second-degree burns and then third-degree burns.
A first-degree burn only affects the outermost layer of the skin, called the epidermis. A first-degree burn will often cause minor pain and redness but will not result in blisters or open sores. These burns will typically go away within a week or so. A bad sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn. Treatment for a first-degree burn will include soaking the affected area in cool water and over-the-counter pain medication.
A second-degree burn affects both the epidermis as well as the dermis, which is the middle layer of skin. Second-degree burns will cause pain and redness, as well as blistering. While some less serious second-degree burns can be treated with antibiotic cream and a sterile bandage, most require a skin graft. A skin graft is a medical procedure in which a doctor places artificial or healthy skin over the burned skin to protect the area as it heals. Most second-degree burns result in permanent scarring.
Third-degree burns are the most severe classification of burn, affecting the epidermis, the dermis, as well as the subcutaneous tissue, or hypodermis. Due to the severity of a third-degree burn, nerve endings, sweat glands and hair follicles can suffer extensive damage. While third-degree burns are excruciatingly painful, if the initial burn damages the nerves, there may be little to no pain at first. Third-degree burns will often result in severe scarring and require the use of skin grafts.
In addition to the degree-classification, medical professionals also rate burns as minor, moderate or severe. For the most part, first- and second-degree burns are considered minor because these burns rarely result in serious complications. Third-degree burns, however, are much more likely to cause serious and potentially life-threatening complications.
Complications that may arise following a burn injury include:
- Extensive scarring caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue (keloids)
- Bacterial infections
- Fluid loss
- Dangerously low body temperature
- Breathing problems
- Bone and joint problems caused by the tightening of skin, muscles or tendons
Types and Common Causes of Burn Injuries
A burn is a type of damage to bodily tissue typically caused by exposure to heat, radiation, certain chemicals or electrical currents. The most common types of burn injuries include:
- Thermal burns – Thermal burns, also referred to as heat burns, are caused by exposure to extreme heat, and are the most common type of burn injury. The hotter the object that comes in contact with the skin, the more serious the burn. Thermal burn injuries include flame injuries, flash burns and scalding injuries.
- Radiation burns – Radiation burns are caused by certain medical procedures, such as radiation therapy for cancer patients and medical imaging technology. The seriousness of a radiation burn depends, in part, on the type of radiation. For example, beta waves will create shallow burns, whereas gamma rays tend to cause much deeper burn injuries.
- Chemical burns – Chemical burns occur when a toxic chemical comes into contact with the skin. Many chemical burns are caused by cleaning products. As a result, most chemical burns occur at home or at work. Chemical burns are unique in that there may be little to no pain initially. However, these burns can cause severe skin damage depending on the length and type of exposure, as well as the concentration of the chemical.
- Electrical burns – Electrical burns occur when someone comes into contact with an electric current. The human body slows the flow of electricity, which causes heat to build up, potentially resulting in serious internal injury. Electrical burns can cause damage to the brain, heart and other organs. These burns often also cause entry and exit wounds. The majority of electrical burns are the result of Houston workplace accidents.
- Inhalation burns – Inhalation injuries occur when someone inhales hot vapors, smoke or toxic gas. Inhalation burns are not visible, as they do not affect the skin; however, they can be extremely serious. Symptoms of an inhalation injury include coughing up phlegm, irritated sinuses, scratchy throat, headaches, chest pain, stinging eyes and shortness of breath.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney Free
In the immediate aftermath of a serious accident, the focus is on your recovery. As the medical bills begin to roll in, many accident victims realize that they are now facing a financial hardship.
At The de la Garza Law Group, we offer free consultations to accident victims, during which we will cover the personal injury recovery process in detail, obtain all the details of the accident, and answer any questions.
The Attorney Conducts an Investigation
Before an attorney files a case, they conduct a detailed investigation into the accident. The investigation is a critical part of the recovery process it creates a framework for the case. While investigations vary, depending on the type of case and available information, typical investigations include:
• Visiting and photographing the scene of the accident
• Interviewing eyewitnesses
• Locating any evidence in the hands of third parties (such as surveillance footage)
• Reviewing police reports or other documents
• Obtaining a client’s employment and medical records
One of the most essential parts of an investigation is determining the potentially liable parties. While in some cases this is obvious, in others it is not. For example, Houston truck accidents may have numerous defendants aside from the driver of the truck, including the truck’s owner, the trucking company and various insurance companies.
Try to Settle the Case Without Litigation
Once the investigation is complete, but before a formal case is filed, an attorney will attempt to settle the case with some or all of the at-fault parties. First, an attorney will draft a demand letter, outlining the accident and providing a detailed account of the victim’s injuries. A demand letter is a formal request for the recipient to pay for the accident victims’ damages in exchange for the victim’s agreement not to file a personal injury claim.
Once a party receives a demand letter, they can either accept the offer, come back with a counteroffer or deny liability. If the parties can come to an agreement, either by the terms of the demand letter or through subsequent negotiations, there may be no need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
File a Houston Personal Injury Case
If a defendant denies responsibility for the accident, or the parties cannot otherwise agree to settle a claim, an accident victim’s next step is to file a personal injury lawsuit. To do this, a personal injury attorney will draft a complaint and file it with the court. The complaint will contain a list of allegations followed by a specific request for relief. The filing a personal injury lawsuit begins a formal legal proceeding. From here, cases follow the following path:
- Pre-trial discovery: In a personal injury lawsuit, each side can request the opposing party provide them with evidence that may be helpful to their case. Most evidence that is relevant to the case is discoverable. However, the court may impose some limits on a party’s discovery requests. There are four types of discovery requests:
- Requests for production: A party’s request for a specific document, such as previous accident reports or statistics.
- Interrogatories: A list of written questions that a witness must answer under oath. Answers provided in an interrogatory can be used to impeach, or discredit, the witness if they testify differently at trial.
- Depositions: A deposition is oral testimony taken out of court with the presence of a court reporter. Deposition testimony can also be used at trial to contradict a witness who provides two different stories or versions of events.
- Requests for admissions: Similar to an interrogatory, a request for admission simply asks another party to admit or deny certain facts.
- Pre-trial motions: Before a case goes to trial, both sides will likely have pre-trial motions. Litigants use pre-trial motions to clarify the scope of the trial or keep out certain unfavorable evidence.
- Settlement negotiations: After the completion of discovery and the resolution of all pre-trial motions, the parties will typically re-approach the bargaining table to see if they can reach an agreement.
- Trial: If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will go to trial, where a judge or jury will determine whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Calculating the Damages Award
If a plaintiff successfully proves the defendant was liable for their injuries, the next step is for the judge or jury to determine the appropriate amount of damages. In general, there are two types of Texas personal injury damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic are those damages that are relatively easy to quantify by reviewing receipts or conducting mathematical calculations. For example, economic damages include the following:
• Past and future medical expenses
• Lost wages
• Loss of future earning capacity
• Damage to property
• Transportation to medical appointments
• Any construction costs that are necessary to retrofit a home to accommodate an accident victim’s disability
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify than economic damages because they involve some level of subjectivity. For example, non-economic damages include any of the following:
• Past and future pain and suffering
• Past and future emotional anguish
• Physical impairment or disfigurement
• Loss of consortium, or loss of social, familial interaction between close loved ones
In some cases, a judge or jury can award punitive damages. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries, and instead focus on punishing the defendant for their especially egregious behavior. Punitive damages are rare, but can be awarded when the plaintiff can prove the defendant acted with malice or gross negligence.
For the most part, there is no maximum amount a judge or jury can award in personal injury damages. However, in some situations, a damages cap will apply. If a damages cap applies, this will impact settlement offers as well as the total amount of compensation that an accident victim can obtain at trial. In Texas, only the following damages are capped:
• Non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases;
• Punitive damages; and
• Damages against a public entity.
The importance of the damages portion of a trial cannot be overstated. While proving economic damages is relatively straightforward, an award of non-economic damages can vary significantly depending on the presentation at trial. It is crucial for a personal injury attorney to accurately convey the extent of the impact that the plaintiff’s injuries had, and will continue to have, on their life. By effectively presenting a client’s overall picture, a skilled personal injury attorney can maximize the non-economic damages their client receives.
Contact an Experienced Harris County Personal Injury Attorney for Immediate Assistance
A single mistake, a moment of negligence, a simple oversight, it only takes one wrong decision to change another persons’ life forever. Houston accident victims face enormous hurdles when recovering physically, financially and emotionally from an accident. While Texas personal injury law allows accident victims the ability to pursue a claim against the at-fault parties, these claims are often complex.
At The de la Garza Law Group, we know that no two cases are the same. Every client is special. Every case is personal. We know that in order to help our clients obtain the justice they deserve, we must get to know our clients and how the accident has impacted their lives. For this reason, we spend significant time getting to know the details of each client’s case and always maintain awareness of the client’s goals for the representation.
If you were injured in an accident, contact The de la Garza Law Group today. We offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation. To learn more, call 713-784-1010, or call toll-free at 844-784-1010.
We proudly represent clients throughout Texas, including all major metropolitan areas. We represent many clients throughout the greater Houston area, including Harris County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Jefferson County, Chambers County, Waller County, and Montgomery County, including The Woodlands, Pearland, Pasadena, Baytown, Clear Lake, Galveston, Conroe and Sugar Land.
From our clients
I would definitely use Mario again
Mario was very professional at all times. The one thing that made me at ease with him was that when I would text him, I would get a response every time within 10 minutes.or less. There was always an answer from him every time I had a question. I would definitely use Mario again if needed and would highly recommend him to someone else needing an attorney.
From our clients
Its like a breath of fresh air having someone like Mario fight for you
I have been a client of Mr. De la Garza two times now where he shows professionalism and honesty and a definite care for the people he represents I got in a car accident in February and it caused such a hardship coming close to an end its like a breath of fresh air having someone like Mario not only represent you but fight for you, I hope not to have any more accidents but if I did I will look forward to working with him again!
From our clients
Hands down the best law firm in Houston
Mr. Mario de la Garza and his team are one of a kind and hands down the best law firm in Houston. They really do care about you and take your case seriously. He takes your calls and actually takes the time to talk to you and explain how everything is going to work and he leaves no questions unanswered. Thank you Mr. Mario for everything you did for me.
From our clients
We highly recommend this firm
On behalf of my family, we are extremely grateful to The de la Garza Law Group for all their legal assistance. One important factor for us was that this involved dealing with family where we all lived outside of Texas, which required consideration for numerous phone calls to different time zones to discuss the case.