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What You Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation and Oil Field Injuries

by | Mar 10, 2023 | Blog, Injuries, Oilfield Accidents | 0 comments

Oil field workers 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) result in fatalities. 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 employed in the oil and gas industry, 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 or 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.

At Wyatt Law Firm, we’re passionate about protecting the rights of workers who have been harmed due to negligence. An oilfield injury lawyer is knowledgeable about the injuries and illnesses that oil field accidents can produce and can help you determine the best options moving forward.

Oilfield Accident Work Injuries

Oilfield Injuries are Increasingly Common

Working in an oil field can be very dangerous. With so many large pieces of machinery and moving parts, it’s easy for things to go wrong. It’s also such a physical job that even if everything goes right with the equipment, it’s easy for workers to injure themselves.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the accidents in the oil and gas extraction industry that are most likely to be fatal. The most types of work injury experienced by those employed by oil companies are: 

  • Transportation incidents, including pipelines, rails, or barges
  • Contact with objects and pieces of equipment, including falling or unsecured objects
  • Fire and explosions due to the flammable materials
  • Exposure to harmful substances or hazardous environments, amplified by lack of protective gear
  • Falls, slips, and trips, possibly due to a lack of care, poor facility maintenance, or unsafe machinery

Though the fatal injury rates can significantly change every year, in 2017, the injury rate grew by 29% from the previous year. Many of the risk factors in oil fields are amplified by insufficient training, improper cautionary actions, and substance abuse on the job.

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.

Possible Workers’ Compensation Claims for Oilfield Accidents

An oilfield worker who suffers injuries while on the job and while working within the scope of employment (while performing one or more job functions or duties) might file a claim for various types of workers’ compensation benefits. To collect these benefits, the worker must have performed a job duty and must be an employee, not an independent contractor.

Employees receive a W-2 form at the end of the tax year. They are also usually subject to control by their employer, especially in terms of their salaries and the number of hours and days they can work. On the other hand, independent contractors receive a 1099 form at the end of the year. 

As part of a workers’ compensation claim, an injured oilfield worker might be eligible to recover various benefits.

Benefits Offered by the Workers’ Compensation System

An injured worker can receive compensation for all accident-related medical expenses and a portion of the wages lost from not working. In addition, if a healthcare provider finds, based on a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the worker suffered a permanent injury, then the worker might recover permanency benefits.

The amount an injured worker will recover in permanency benefits depends on the body part(s) injured and the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of the accident. 

However, workers’ comp will not offer compensation for non-economic damages, such as emotional anguish or pain and suffering. These losses can be pursued in third-party claims or personal injury lawsuits. An oilfield injury lawyer can advise you as to your legal options after a workplace accident. In some cases, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation alongside a personal injury claim. 

The Legal Basis for a Third-party Injury Claim

In addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim, an injured oilfield worker might make a third-party claim for monetary compensation and damages. For example, in the case of a rig collapse injury, the worker might pursue a claim against the construction company that constructed the rig.

Similarly, if the oilfield worker sustained injuries because of an equipment malfunction, the worker might pursue a third-party products’ liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the defective equipment.

Finally, if the injured oilfield worker suffered a slip-and-fall injury while on the oil rig, they might pursue a claim against the foreman or other individual or entity responsible for proper maintenance.

For an injured oilfield worker to succeed in a legal claim, they must satisfy several legal requirements. First, the worker and their attorney must demonstrate that the third party (not the employer) behaved in a reckless, careless, or negligent manner under the circumstances. This means that the at-fault person or entity must have acted unreasonably. In addition, the worker must demonstrate that this violation of the standard of care resulted in the accident, which, in turn, led to the injury or injuries sustained.

Contact an Oil Field Injuries Attorney for Help With Your Claim

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 San Antonio oil field injury attorney at 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. Contact us online or give us a call for a free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you with getting the compensation that you deserve and need.