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Can I Sue for Work Injuries After an Oilfield Accident?

by | Nov 30, 2021 | Blog, Injuries, Oilfield Accidents | 0 comments

People have the potential to make a lot of money while working on an oil rig or in an oilfield in Texas. However, these jobs do not come without their share of risks and injuries, and working on oil rigs or oilfields can present avoidable hazards.

The United States Labor Department has recognized the seriousness of these dangers, concluding that a good majority of oilfield accidents (in the thousands) have wound up being fatal. Likewise, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued fines to companies with the highest numbers of onsite accidents and injuries.

If you suffered an injury during job hours and while you were working within the scope of your employment at an oilfield, you might be in a position to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, or as an alternative, you might pursue a third-party claim against a person or entity who caused/contributed to your oilfield accident. As part of your third-party claim, you can pursue a settlement, and if a favorable offer is not forthcoming from the insurance company, you may elect to file a lawsuit in court.

If you have suffered injuries while working in an oilfield or on an oil rig, you have legal options which may be available to you. An experienced and skilled San Antonio oilfield accident injury attorney at the Wyatt Law Firm can review the circumstances of your oilfield accident with you. We can then develop a plan for moving your case forward. In some instances, this might mean negotiating a favorable settlement offer with the insurance company, while at other times, it may involve filing a lawsuit and resolving the dispute there.

In any case, you can rest assured that our legal team will zealously advocate for your legal interests and pursue the maximum amount of compensation available to you in your oilfield injury case. Please give us a call today to learn more about how we can assist you with getting the compensation that you deserve and need.

Types of Injuries that Workers Commonly Suffer in Oilfield Accidents

Oilfield Accident Work Injuries

Oil rigs and oilfields often endanger the individuals who work there. Risks include the potential for hazardous or defective equipment, poisonous gases onsite, and slip-and-falls. Workers who suffered injuries in the oil field might sustain spinal cord injuries, soft tissue injuries, broken bones, head injuries, and muscular contusions, among others.

Many hazardous and slippery surfaces are present at oilfields and on oil rigs. Consequently, slip-and-fall accidents are unfortunately all too common there. If a worker slips and falls from a high place and strikes the ground directly, he or she can suffer one or more broken bones, along with a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury. Slip and fall accidents can happen at oilfields for a variety of reasons for instance, people might not maintain the work area in a safe, careful, or proper manner, and someone can fall due to a hazard in walkways or on stairs.

Chemical burn injuries can also happen on oil rigs and in oilfields. Workers are prone to burn injuries because of the high temperatures and the dangerous chemicals that companies commonly use. If a worker suffers a serious burn injury, there might be subsequent scarring, which may cause lifelong shame, pain, embarrassment, or humiliation.

Injuries involving poisonous gases can also occur in oilfields. Some chemicals that oil worksites use, including hydrogen sulfide, are both odorless and colorless. Therefore, the worker can have exposure to these chemicals and not even know it. Whenever an oilfield worker has exposure to poisonous gas, he or she might experience vomiting, nausea, and pain. In addition, the worker might become unconscious if he or she is exposed to the poisonous chemical for too long while at work.

Moreover, when an oil rig that is onsite collapses, workers can suffer one or more serious injuries. This is especially true if the worker is located high off the ground or if the worker somehow gets caught under the collapsed rig and becomes trapped and unable to move. An oil rig might collapse whenever crews use defective construction materials to assemble the rig, or when they fail to assemble the rig in a safe, careful, or workmanlike manner. A person who survives an oil rig collapse might suffer one or more paralysis injuries that can limit his/her mobility for the rest of the worker’s life.

Finally, injuries on oil fields can involve defective machinery and equipment. Oilfield workers often have to work around this equipment when they are performing their job duties every day. However, when the equipment does not receive proper maintenance at regular intervals or when the equipment is out of date or improperly manufactured, serious injuries can happen while on the job.

If you suffered one or more of these injuries while working in an oilfield, there are certain steps that you should always take. First of all, you should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident. If possible, you should seek initial medical treatment on the same date as your oilfield accident. A responding healthcare provider will not only assess your medical condition, but can also take the necessary CAT scans, X-rays, MRIs, and other emergency room imaging studies to help him/her determine what is wrong with you and provide you the necessary treatment.

Moreover, if you require additional medical treatment, a hospital medical provider can make the necessary referrals. For example, if broke a bone, you may need to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon to perform a surgical repair. In addition, you might need to follow up with a family doctor or with a physical therapist or chiropractor, depending upon the injury or injuries that you suffered in your oilfield accident.

One of the biggest mistakes that work injury victims make is failing to seek prompt medical treatment after their accident. Another common mistake is when workers fail to treat continuously for their injuries, or they do not wait for a healthcare provider to discharge them. Any of these actions can have negative repercussions for your workers’ compensation and/or your third-party personal injury claim/lawsuit.

When an insurance company sees that you did not seek prompt medical treatment after your accident, or if you did not treat continuously for your injuries, the adjuster will assume that either you were not taking your medical treatment seriously or that you did not suffer serious enough injuries in the accident to warrant significant monetary compensation. In either instance, failing to treat properly and continuously can hurt your potential monetary benefits and compensation.

The good thing about having a knowledgeable personal injury attorney on board in your case is that your lawyer can begin advocating for you even while you are finishing up your treatment. The experienced San Antonio oilfield accident lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm can start gathering your medical records, bills, and other documentation while you finish training for your injuries. Our legal team can then assemble all of this documentation into a demand package to present to the insurance company for a possible settlement.

Potential Workers’ Compensation Benefits Following an Oilfield Accident

If you suffered one or more injuries in an oilfield accident while working at your job, you may pursue workers’ compensation benefits. To obtain these benefits, you must be an employee, as opposed to an independent contractor.

Through the Texas workers’ compensation system, you can recover monetary compensation for your related medical expenses, as well as a portion of the earnings which you lost from not working after your accident. In addition, if you suffered a permanent injury in your oilfield accident, you can be eligible to pursue permanency benefits if a healthcare provider is on board in your case. Specifically, a doctor will need to state, based upon a reasonable degree of medical probability, that you suffered one or more permanent physical impairments in your oilfield accident.

Pursuing a Settlement as Part of a Third-party Claim Arising from an Oilfield Accident

Although you cannot file a claim or lawsuit directly against your employer, you might be eligible to file a third-party claim or lawsuit against someone else in your oilfield accident case. For example, if you suffered a slip and fall injury while on the job, you might bring a claim against the person or entity responsible for maintaining the area where you fell. To be successful, you will need to demonstrate that the at-fault person or entity knew of the defective condition and failed to warn about or remedy it within a reasonable time.

In addition, if you suffered an oilfield accident injury because of a defective piece of equipment at the site, you might bring a claim against the manufacturer of that equipment, claiming that the equipment had defective manufacture or design. In addition, you can take legal action against the person or entity responsible for maintaining the equipment and keeping it in good repair.

Regardless of who or what caused or contributed to your oilfield accident and injuries, you do not typically file a lawsuit in the case right away. The exception is if the at-fault party is disputing fault or liability in your case. In most other instances, parties first attempt to settle the case.

The settlement process begins when your lawyer submits a demand package, including a demand letter, to the at-fault party’s insurance company. While a settlement demand letter will usually ask for a specific monetary amount, the letter will also come with various accompanying documents to support that amount, including your medical records and bills, lost wage statements, photographs of your injuries, photographs of the incident scene, and witness statements.

Once the insurance company reviews all of this information, the adjuster working on your case might offer to settle. Your attorney will typically need to negotiate with the insurance company several times to pursue a better offer. In most instances, the insurance company will not offer its best settlement right off the bat. If the case is not settled for a reasonable amount of money, though, your attorney can threaten litigation.

Filing a Lawsuit in a Third Party Oilfield Accident Claim

The litigation process starts when you file a lawsuit in the Texas state court system. However, the parties can still settle their case favorably until the trial concludes. It sometimes just takes filing a lawsuit to convince the insurance company to offer up more favorable settlement compensation. If that does not happen, the parties may take part in discovery (including depositions), and if necessary, try the case in front of a jury.

At a jury trial, the jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues in the case, including damages and monetary compensation. Instead of taking the case to trial, the parties might prefer alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as binding arbitration or mediation. In any case, a knowledgeable oilfield accident lawyer in San Antonio at the Wyatt Law Firm can help you make the best decision for your case.

Call a Skilled Oilfield Accident Lawyer about Your Legal Matter Today

The best thing you can do after an oilfield accident is to seek the right legal help. These cases are technical, and you want an attorney who will seek out all possible sources of liability, including third-party liability. Reach out for the assistance you need don’t wait.