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Fracking in Texas and Personal Injuries

Local communities around the country continue to be concerned about the potential effects that fracking can have on their lives and health, particularly in Texas, which has been a hotspot for a rise in earthquakes due to the process used to dispose of associated wastewater. One Texas family experienced 11 earthquakes in 24 hours in January of this year, one so strong that they were knocked off their furniture. Not only does it place people in danger, but undoubtedly their homes and other property.

A recent case brought related to personal injuries from fracking may change the course for people who are injured—whether that be physically or in terms of their property—by fracking in their communities.

Court Case

Recently, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that the Oklahoma district court had jurisdiction to hear a personal injury tort action linked to fracking. Specifically, in Landra v. New Dominion, LLC, the plaintiff (Landra) was severely injured when an earthquake in her area (on the rise since there had been fracking activities) caused parts of a wall to fall on her in her home.

Although the case has not yet been decided on the merits, it could give rise to similar claims now that it has been scientifically documented that disposing of the wastewater associated with fracking increases the number of earthquakes in a given area (for example, Oklahoma’s current earthquake rate is now 600 times higher than its pre-fracking rate). Fracking companies arguably have a duty to ensure that their injection wells do not contribute to seismic activity, particularly where it can lead to injuries.

Inducing Dangerous Earthquakes in Texas

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Dallas, Texas area in particular has suffered almost 40 earthquakes since the beginning of 2015 alone. This is in comparison to experiencing only one earthquake in the 58 years prior to 2008, indicating a pattern of “induced quakes.”

When we speak of induced quakes, we speak of seismic activity that is the result of human activity—specifically, the disposal of a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing called “flow back water.” A research team has also found that in the towns of Azle and Reno, the oil and gas activities in the area were most likely responsible for earthquakes in the last few years.

The group that has access to most of the details is the Texas Railroad Commission, which is still denying that there is enough research gathered to definitely point to fracking as the cause. However, while state officials wait, community organizations have begun to form (such as the Denton Drilling Awareness Group) to educate the public about the dangers of gas well drilling, such as the ongoing physical ailments that have been reported (headaches and insomnia) those located to these wells experience, as well as the potential dangers associated with induced earthquakes. Some of these cities (such as Denton) are currently seeking to pass strong ordinances on hydraulic fracturing bans.

Contact Zehl & Associates’ Texas Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or someone you know has suffered a personal injury or illness, it is important to reach out to an experienced Texas work accident attorney who can help protect your rights.Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers team of Texas accident attorneys have experience helping injured people throughout Texas recover compensation for their injuries.