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Consumer Safety Advocates Warn of Space Heater Dangers


The new year has blasted a deep freeze across much of the United States, with below-normal temperatures and snow, sleet and ice blanketing even the Deep South. With this winter promising its fair share of wind and chill—even in cities that aren’t used to the extreme cold—consumer protection advocates are warning of the dangers associated with the use and misuse of space heaters, a common go-to appliance for many Americans just trying to stay warm.

Space heaters, also known as portable heaters, can be an inexpensive way to heat a room, but they’re also associated with an alarming number of building fires and burn injuries. According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates, more than 25,000 residential fires are associated each year with the use of these common and convenient appliances—resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, approximately 6,000 people require hospital emergency room care for burn injuries after contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Space heaters are meant to be supplemental appliances, and are never meant to be the only heating method used in a space, a common mistake that leads to building fires. The following guidelines, offered by consumer protection experts, the Association of Home Appliances and the National Fire Protection Association, can help reduce these alarming statistics:

The lawyers at Stevenson & Murray are highly experienced in representing victims of residential and commercial building fires and burns. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a defective space heater or similar appliance, give us a call to discuss your concerns.

Will Trump’s Move to Expand Offshore Drilling Compromise Worker Safety?

oil rig

Moves by the Trump administration last week to reopen offshore drilling off the California coast and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico are being heralded by many in the oil and gas industry as providing a more favorable competitive landscape for U.S. energy providers, but with this new opportunity comes the potential for workers to be harmed.

The proposals are being viewed largely through a bipartisan lens, seen as essential to meeting the country’s energy needs domestically and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign governments—but also viewed as alarming to those who contend the move will compromise worker safety and the environment. The plans announced last week would open more than 40 sites for leasing of natural gas and oil production, and have the potential to open nearly all federally protected waters to new drilling, according to CNN and other media outlets.

The move comes in tandem with a separate announcement that the Trump administration is working to revise safety rules enacted in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill on the grounds that they are overly burdensome on U.S. industry. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency charged with improving safety and ensuring environmental protection related to the offshore energy industry, plans to publish new regulations for production-safety systems and well control devices, both enacted to prevent the type of blowout that killed 11 Deepwater Horizon workers.

Stevenson & Murray was involved in several cases resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, now considered the worst oil spill in U.S. history—so any moves that might walk back safety measures enacted in the wake of Deepwater Horizon are troubling.

Mark Murray, a partner of Stevenson & Murray with long experience in oil and gas industry, Jones Act law and maritime worker advocacy, says no matter where people land politically on these complex issues, expanded offshore drilling could have long-term implications for the maritime and Jones Act workers employed on the offshore platforms, barges, docks and shipping vessels that support the offshore drilling and downstream production.

“Port cities like Houston, New Orleans, Lake Jackson, Tampa and Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Los Angeles and San Francisco might stand to benefit from added jobs and economic boosts of the new provisions, but worker rights and safety cannot be compromised in the industry’s rush to begin drilling operations,” Murray says. “We regularly see companies cutting corners on safety with devastating effects on workers employed up and down these industries, from employees on the offshore platforms themselves to dock workers stateside, to the custodial workers and catering staff who sustain injuries on the job.”

Even with a landscape favorable for the energy industry in general and drillers in particular, the exact effects of Trump’s plans remain to be seen. Industry experts note huge infrastructure investment costs, almost-certain environmental and legal challenges, and uncertain oil prices will all be in play to challenge would-be drillers.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a maritime, Jones Act, oil and gas industry or any worker safety case, you need a lawyer with deep experience in these complex cases. Call our team today for a no-obligation consultation.

Beware of Social Media When Pursuing an Injury Claim

Auto Accident LiabilityAre you a social media user? Chances are, if you’ve stumbled upon this blog, you have at least one social media account. According to Pew Research Center, in 2014, nearly 75 percent of Internet users also used social media, and that number has only increased since then. Social media is a valuable tool for communication, allowing people to stay connected with friends, family and others in a way that never existed before. But social media is not always a good thing – something you might find out if you ever become involved in a personal injury claim.

How is it that social media can derail your injury claim? When you make an injury claim against a negligent party, that party has a major interest in limiting the amount of damages it is required to pay for your injuries. That party’s attorney will do everything in his or her power to collect evidence that undermines your injury claim.

Here’s an example. Tyler is driving down Westheimer on his way to work when he is T-boned at an intersection. He suffers injuries to his wrists, which he claims make him unable to create and sell art, his hobby and side job.

But as Tyler’s claim is making its way through the courts, Tyler continues to post pictures of his paintings to his Instagram account, which the negligent party’s attorney discovers. With one piece of Tyler’s claim proved demonstrably false, it casts doubt on the rest of Tyler’s claimed damages.

Do yourself a favor if you are involved in an injury claim – stay off Facebook and other social media apps.

What Are Houston’s Most Dangerous Intersections?

truck accidentHouston is a big city with a big population. That means traffic, and where there is a lot of traffic, accidents are bound to happen. You’ve likely seen or been involved in at least one automobile accident in your lifetime, or you’ve witnessed reckless driving behaviors that could easily lead to an accident. These behaviors can include things like speeding, aggressively cutting other drivers off, failing to use a turn signal, texting while driving and more.

Some parts of the city are safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists than others. But do you know where the most dangerous intersections in Houston are located?

Intersections with the Highest Number of Recent Accidents

In order, here are Houston’s 10 most dangerous intersections, according to the Texas Department of Transportation:

  1. Bissonnet Street at Sam Houston Parkway
  2. Hardy Road at Sam Houston Parkway
  3. Sam Houston Parkway at Westheimer Road
  4. Main Street at South Loop
  5. Greens Road at I-45
  6. Main Street at Sam Houston Parkway
  7. Beechnut Street at Sam Houston Parkway
  8. Sam Houston Parkway at Westpark Tollway
  9. Hammerly Boulevard at Sam Houston Parkway
  10. I-45 at Sam Houston Parkway

In a full list of Texas’s most dangerous intersections, Houston’s roads held many of the top spots. Some would say that Houston is the state’s most dangerous city to drive in. Many blame economic growth for this increase in accidents, as economic growth attracts more drivers to our city. Others say that a rise in distracted driving, largely precipitated by smartphones, is another major cause of increasing accidents.

If you are injured in a car accident in Houston, you need aggressive representation to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Our law firm is prepared to assist you in obtaining the damages you are entitled to for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Do you have questions regarding your situation? Call us today for a no-obligation consultation with our experienced team.

Deck the Halls with Fire Safety in Mind

Did you know 30% of all home fires and 38% of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January and February, according to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association? With decades of experience practicing personal injury and wrongful death law, we’ve seen firsthand the aftermath of house and apartment fires, and other tragedies that commonly escalate during the holidays.

Entire blog →

For Accident Victims

Stevenson & Murray is industry renowned for remarkable successes and deep expertise handling complex and sophisticated accident and personal injury cases. From the moment we open a claim through trial and to the last appeal, we are passionately committed to making a life-changing difference for each and every client we represent.

The lawyers of Stevenson & Murray are seasoned litigators and advocates for personal injury victims. We consider all personal injury cases but specialize in cases involving wrongful death, maritime and admiralty law, trucking accidents, large commercial fires, talc claims, and commercial and industrial accidents.

Have you been hurt in an accident? Contact our offices in Houston today to discuss your rights and legal options in a free consultation with a leading personal injury and wrongful death trial attorney.

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For Lawyers

It is an honor and a privilege to work side by side with some of the best in our industry. Stevenson & Murray welcomes the opportunity to work with other law firms. We have a long and proud tradition of partnering with co-counsel to strengthen a client’s case. Decades of experience in our practice specialties and an exceptional record of achievement both in and out of the courtroom position us well to support the case needs of associating firms.

Our reputation as a leading personal injury firm and our uncommon litigation skill provide key advantages to our partners and their clients. Whether you are looking to add depth or breadth of experience to a case, expand jurisdiction or geographical coverage, provide additional resources to investigate or try a case, or leverage our relationships with top experts in numerous industries where we excel, we help co-counsel secure top verdicts and settlements.

Stevenson & Murray is a leading choice for clients and lawyers alike. Our referral business is a source of great pride for our entire team, and we constantly strive to earn and maintain the highest level of respect from our colleagues.


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