Oilfield injuries are the cause of hundreds of medical damages and deaths per year. From minor to catastrophic, Texas leads the nation in these on-the-job accidents. Suffering due to negligence in the workplace causes both physical and emotional damage whether it has happened to you or a loved one.
These unforeseen occurrences may leave a worker with medical bills above and beyond what health insurance and workers comp will cover, lost wages, long-term disabilities, and emotional trauma lasting well after the incident. Fatalities occur in the most severe oilfield incidents. Filing a claim for compensation is a complicated process requiring knowledge of Texas law.
If you or a loved one were hurt in an oilfield accident, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel. You cannot rely on the oilfield company or insurer to advocate for you.
Your dedication to long hours and manual labor should not be rewarded with a preventable injury. Our experienced lawyers at Chris Lewis & Associates P.C. can review your case today to see if you qualify for compensation.
The Oil and Gas Extraction Program run by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) works to eliminate occupational injuries, fatalities, and related illnesses amongst oil and gas extraction workers. Despite policies, procedures, and safeguards in place, accidents caused by staff negligence, oversight, and faulty equipment continue to occur.
While many roles are not without risk, some job titles carry a heavier burden. Oil rigs are risky places and deal with extremely volatile substances, so even without human error, this job can still be dangerous. Amongst the top most dangerous jobs in the oilfield industry are the following:
Immediately after you are injured, it is important that you follow some critical steps to ensure you have the documentation you need in order to file a successful lawsuit. Depending on your injuries, the first step is to obtain medical care. Your health is of the utmost importance, so whether it is an urgent wound or trauma or symptoms are delayed, don’t miss this step.
As soon as you are able, you need to report this incident to your employer. You or the supervisor on duty may need to complete an incident report which will be referred to in the event you move forward with a suit. In addition to reporting what has happened, it is helpful to get contact information for any and all witnesses. Taking pictures may also be helpful.
You should also keep your documentation in case it is needed moving forward. Medical records, receipts, names, and numbers for witnesses are all things that can be used as evidence in a personal injury claim. These will be used by your lawyer who will also be able to obtain additional information and complete all required legal documentation on your behalf.
The use of specialized equipment and hazardous chemicals creates an environment where strict safety measures need to be followed. If they are not, accidents, injury, and even death may be the result. While anyone can trip at work and sprain an ankle, the injuries seen on site of an oilfield are typically much more severe in nature. The most common that are seen include:
While the above list is not all-inclusive, these catastrophic injuries make a huge impact on your well-being in the short term and possibly in years to come. After the initial recovery, ongoing appointments, new medications, physical rehabilitation, and the need for counseling put undue stress on you and your family financially and emotionally.
Unfortunately, many of these injuries can lead to permanent damage. A spinal injury, for example, may lead to complete paralysis below the point of the injury. When this happens, it can leave you without sensation or mobility below the point of the injury. Injuries like these may require a lifetime of care.
It’s essential to determine negligence in a personal injury suit. Investigating why an accident happened is imperative in determining fault and processing a successful claim. There are common reasons accidents occur, from equipment malfunctions to human error, especially non-compliance with safety standards.
For example, it’s the responsibility of the company to routinely service and maintain the intricate equipment used onsite to ensure the safety of others. If they fail to do so and the equipment malfunctions, it can cause a serious accident and injury.
Working impaired, specifically the use of drugs or alcohol on the worksite, is strictly prohibited. Those disobeying this highly enforced rule put themselves and others at risk.
Inadequate training can lead to serious injury, too. Each worker needs to be fully trained and proven to be competent in their role before they are independent in their job duties. When an employee is poorly trained or asked to perform a task they are not familiar with, fatal accidents can happen.
Industry regulations are put in place for the safety of employees, and ignoring them can lead to severe consequences. The Texas Railroad Commission is the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for ensuring safe working conditions.
It is important for employers and responsible staff to identify and control hazards before they happen. Common mishaps that occur in the oilfield can lead to minor, major, and catastrophic consequences.
Well blowouts, for example, occur when the control system of the well’s pressure fails, causing an uncontrolled release of gas, oil, and debris. Explosions can occur if a spark comes in contact with any escaping oil. Working with highly combustible and volatile chemicals significantly increases this risk.
Cranes are huge pieces of machinery. Equipment needs to be examined daily and faulty machinery needs to be reported and repaired immediately. Failure to do so is negligence. If this equipment fails, it can lead to falls or heavy objects being dropped from a height. Falling from heights or getting hit by a falling object causes immediate trauma resulting in major injury.
Inhalation of hazardous fumes from chemicals used on the job can injure your lungs, cause cancer, or impair how your heart functions. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be readily available and its use mandated.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and injury. Oil rigs transport goods around the work site as well as offsite. Special licensure in your state of employment, a Commercial Driver’s license (CDL), is required.
Economic damages include any financial cost to you from your injury at the fault of a negligent party. Recuperating these funds is a key factor on your road to recovery. This type of compensation is referred to as calculable as all of your bills and receipts are collected and tallied to determine the total financial impact this injury has caused you.
Personal injury victims incur bills that far exceed what is reimbursed to them by their health insurance or a workers compensation plan if your employer has one. Employers in the state of Texas are not required to cover workers comp leaving you with no additional coverage in the event of injury increasing your financial loss.
The total amount of your settlement will depend on the total cost and impact of the factors below. Some common economic damages eligible for reimbursement include but are not limited to:
Non-economic damages are not as easy to calculate as the above economic factors. These pertain to more emotional effects that one suffers after an injury. There are no bills to calculate and can be subjective. These damages are factored into the negotiations with some examples noted below:
It is unthinkable to have a loved one leave for work and not return due to a fatal accident on the job. If you have lost someone due to an oilfield accident you may qualify for compensation on their behalf.
Compensation for things such as funeral arrangements, remaining debt, and loss of financial support you relied on can help you grieve and move forward after such devastation. The Texas Department of Insurance defines the benefits available and who is eligible to submit a claim.
Filing a personal injury claim after being injured in an oilfield accident is a complicated process. Investigation of all of the evidence is a key factor in determining the validity of a case and who is responsible for your injuries. Insurance information such as workers compensation needs to be reviewed, as well as the potential to involve third parties that may be at fault.
Negotiations can be complex and may involve multiple parties. We will work to get you what you deserve and not let those at fault persuade you to accept anything less. By consulting a lawyer promptly, you ensure that your case does not exceed the statute of limitations or time limit. In Texas, you have two years from the date of injury to file suit.
As there is a move to decrease our dependence on overseas oil and gas, production in the states is on the rise. Unfortunately, this also means injuries happening as a result of negligence, faulty equipment, or unsafe working environments have increased. The residual physical and emotional damage from an oilfield accident can be life-altering.
Working in this industry is highly specialized, and oilfield workers use complicated equipment in a dangerous environment. It is important to speak with an attorney who understands your profession, the risks, and the types and causes of most injuries to ensure your success in moving forward with your claim.
The company and its insurance will be working on their end to limit their liability and compensation to you or your loved ones. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. Connect with one of our experienced professionals at Chris Lewis & Associates P.C. by completing the online contact form provided below or calling our office at 214-984-3113.