Were you in a serious accident in a South Texas oil field? Has a loved one passed away prematurely due to a fatal oilfield accident anywhere in Texas? If so, contact our San Antonio oil field injury lawyers immediately.
At Wyatt Law Firm, we believe in pursuing full justice and compensation for our clients. We will put all our efforts, manpower, and experience into fighting for you!
We do not let blatant acts of negligence or carelessness go unanswered. By investigating your claim thoroughly and intensively, we can uncover liable parties that have contributed to your injuries. From negligent employers to careless industrial product manufacturers, we are not afraid to go up against major corporate entities and demand the justice you deserve.
Table of Contents
- Oil Field Injury Lawyers Seeking Justice
- We Represent People After Oil Rig Explosions and Offshore Injuries
- Our Approach to San Antonio Oil Field Injury Claims
- Some of Our Case Results
- Can You Afford an Oil Field Injury Lawyer in San Antonio?
- Speak With Our Experienced San Antonio Oil Field Injury Attorneys Right Away
If you or a family member suffered serious injuries in an oil field accident near San Antonio, you need the right legal guidance right away. The same is true if your family sustained a tragic loss due to a fatal oil field or offshore accident. You want the right law firm on your side that knows how to seek full justice for your losses. You want a San Antonio oil field accident lawyer from Wyatt Law Firm.
Our law firm represents clients across Texas, including in and around San Antonio, Austin, Laredo, Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi, Midland, and more. We know the protections of injury victims under the law, and we stand up to oil companies and other parties to protect all of our clients’ rights.
Our legal team holds negligent parties who cause injuries fully accountable for all the harm they cause. We bring all of our resources to the table to fight against major corporations, and we do not stop until our clients receive the justice they need and deserve.
After an oil field injury due to explosions or other accidents, do not delay in seeking help from Wyatt Law Firm.
Our legal team knows that every injury case is different, so each one needs a unique approach. We take the time to carefully listen to everything our clients have to say, including how the accident happened and how their injuries affect their lives.
When we put ourselves in your shoes, we are in the best position to identify all sources of liability and present your injuries and losses most fully and accurately.
Often, our approach compels negligent companies and their corporate insurers to take responsibility for the injuries stemming from their conduct. If not, we know how to escalate your case and will keep fighting until you receive a favorable settlement or jury verdict.
In 30 years of fighting for injury victims, our firm has recovered over $500 million for our clients. Because as mentioned every case is unique, prior results are not a promise or indication of what you might recover. The best way to get an idea of your case’s worth is to consult our legal team directly.
That said, we have experience obtaining successful results for oil field injury victims.
For example, one of our clients drove a tractor and tanker trailer to load the trailer with condensate at a loading area. As it turned out, the area did not have proper ventilation, and the company pumped high-pressure and volatile condensate into the tank battery where our client was loading the tanker trailer. The highly flammable vapors in the loading area ignited and exploded. We fought for our client’s rights and secured $3,900,000 from the negligent company.
Some other related results include:
- $1,178,586 for a client who sustained a serious head injury in an oil field accident
- $1,383,872 for a client who suffered thoracic and lumbar spine fusion due to an industrial accident
This is only a small sample of how we helped our clients, and you can look over more of our successful case results here. The best way to learn about our passion and drive for success is to consult a member of our team.
Another common concern among injured accident victims is how they will afford to pay high legal fees for representation. As you face your medical bills and other financial stress, you might naturally wonder if you can afford to hire an oilfield injury attorney in the San Antonio area.
Many people assume that we charge expensive hourly fees since that is a common practice among law firms for many cases. The good news is that our firm does not charge fees this way for our injured clients.
Instead, we take oil and gas injury cases on a contingency fee basis.
- You receive a completely free consultation and case evaluation to determine whether you have a viable claim.
- If we take your case (and you decide to hire us), you pay nothing upfront for our legal services.
- Our law firm can front the costs of your claim, including investigative expenses, court fees, and more, while your case is pending.
- If we are unsuccessful in recovering compensation for you, we charge no payment from you.
- If we obtain a settlement or award for your losses, our fees come directly from your payment, so you never have to come up with any funds out of pocket.
We make sure our clients fully understand how much of their settlement or award we will receive for fees and expenses, so there are no surprises. Our San Antonio oil field injury lawyers know that suffering an oil field injury is difficult enough, and the last thing you need is additional financial stress. We are ready to help, so please reach out for your no-cost consultation as soon as possible.
Why Oil Field Accidents Happen
Texas has long been famous for its vast oil and gas resources, and many people throughout the state find success working in this industry. With new finds in the Permian Basin and elsewhere, the industry has rapidly expanded operations. With this new activity in the oil fields comes increased risks for oil field workers.
Oil field accidents often happen due to:
- Inadequately trained workers
- Carbon monoxide poisoning from unaddressed leaks
- Oil field fracking injuries
- Explosions and chemical fires
- Exposure to sulfur hydroxide fumes
- Fatigue or dangerous exposure due to lack of proper rest periods or long shift hours
- Improperly maintained drills and exploration equipment or defective machinery
- Inadequate safeguards at drilling sites and refinery facilities
- Negligent drivers in and around the oil and gas fields
- Lack of safety regulations or emergency protocol
- Trench collapses
- Oil field, pipeline, and refinery fires
- Truck drivers who make negligent errors in oil fields
With the industry expanding so rapidly, it creates a much greater risk of mistakes and negligence by oil companies and others working at the site or offshore.
If you suffered harm in the Texas oil fields, Wyatt Law Firm will seek maximum compensation for you. We represent oil and gas workers in the Permian Basin, Barnett Shale, the Eagle Ford Shale, the Haynesville Shale, and other locations in Texas.
No matter where your accident and injury happened, we know how to investigate the incident to identify liability. This best allows us to seek full compensation for all of your oil field and offshore injuries and losses from the liable parties we identify.
For instance, in the event of an oil rig explosion, industry professionals, Coast Guard officials, and other parties should begin investigating the cause of the explosion immediately. If you suffered injuries in the explosion, you need an experienced legal professional protecting your rights and conducting an investigation on your behalf.
While you might believe you can trust the oil company to produce accurate investigation results, always remember that the oil company aims to protect its profits, which means avoiding liability. These companies have insurers and legal teams representing them following an accident, and these professionals are ready to help avoid liability whenever possible. They have resources to avoid payouts to injury victims, and you need resources of your own in the form of a San Antonio oil rig accident lawyer.
To hold an oil company accountable for explosions and resulting injuries, you must establish negligence on the part of another party, such as the captain or company that ignored safety protocols. Sometimes, you should hold the manufacturer of defective equipment liable for an explosion or oil rig accident, but proving defective manufacturing is a highly technical and complex task.
Anyone injured in any capacity in an oil-related accident needs a lawyer who has in-depth knowledge of the industry.
At the Wyatt Law Firm, we know:
- The different players in the oil and gas industry that might be negligent
- How to identify defective equipment
- The many different possible causes of accidents and injuries
We have a network of experts ready to investigate accidents and help to prove the cause of your injuries.
Every Oil Field Worker Deserves Justice
Due to the emphasis on profit, many workers and crew members are put to work quickly in high-stress situations with little to no industry training. Though safety protocols should prevent injury or wrongful death at work, these precautions are essentially useless if employers or product manufacturers act negligently and risk the lives of innocent workers.
At Wyatt Law Firm, our mission is to help victims of corporate negligence get justice and full compensation for their losses. We are relentless warriors for truth.
Types of Oil Field and Offshore Accidents
We help clients after all types of oil field and offshore accidents, and the following are only some examples of how our clients suffered injuries.
#1. Oil Field Fires and Explosions
Whether you work on land-based rigs, inland barges, tugs, or offshore vessels or platforms, you likely work in an environment with combustible materials. There are many reasons why such combustibles can lead to fires or explosions, including improper fuel storage, vessel collisions, failing or inadequate ventilation systems, and more.
Fires and explosions can result in catastrophic injuries, including life-changing burns, amputations, and traumatic brain injuries, among others. Determining what caused an oil field fire or explosion can be a highly technical task.
#2. Tugboat or Barge Crashes
Hundreds of barges move around the Gulf and other waters, pulled by tugs while carrying significant oil-related cargo and equipment. When a barge or tugboat accident occurs, including collisions with other watercraft or hitting underwater obstacles, anyone on deck or in the vicinity can suffer injuries. This can include pilots, captains, mates, deckhands, tankermen, and others who help keep our economy going by working on oil watercraft.
#3. Malfunctioning or Failing Equipment
Many types of equipment are necessary to keep the oil industry going, and each job requires the use of specialized equipment and tools. When companies manufacture defective equipment or fail to properly inspect or maintain equipment, malfunctions and failures can happen. This can lead to serious accidents and injuries to those operating the equipment or nearby.
Sometimes, equipment accidents happen due to the negligence of the manufacturer or company supplying the equipment. In other cases, an employer might provide inappropriate equipment for the job or fail to maintain the equipment, leading to liability.
#4. Chemical Exposure
The oil industry involves working with many hazardous materials, and inhaling or otherwise coming into contact with toxic chemicals can result in severe and lasting injuries and health issues.
Not every oil company takes proper precautions and provides the necessary safety equipment to workers when they might suffer chemical exposure, and this can cause burns, respiratory problems, and more. In addition, companies might manufacture faulty safety equipment, which can also lead to preventable chemical exposure.
#5. Inadequate Safety Training
If you work on an oil field or offshore job site, you need the proper safety precautions and training to avoid accidents and injuries. Some injuries happen because workers do not receive training on certain equipment or tasks or employers fail to enforce proper safety policies and measures.
#6. Falling Objects
When you work on an oil rig, crane barge, drillship, or any type of vessel with multiple levels, there might be objects that fall from upper levels onto workers below. Workers may not have properly secured support structures or machinery, so it might break off and fall, causing traumatic injuries.
#7. Slips and Falls
Many conditions can cause an oil worker to slip and fall, including slippery surfaces from bad weather or chemicals, tools or debris left out, and more. Falls can also occur because of unsafe equipment and inadequate handrails or safety mechanisms.
Workers might slip and fall on level ground, or they might fall from a high place, such as:
- Upper decks of vessels
No matter where a fall happens, traumatic injuries can result.
Working in an oil field or on an oil rig can expose workers to many different weather conditions. Offshore workers might endure high and low temperatures, which can both cause serious health issues. Heatstroke, dehydration, and exhaustion can cause problems if workers do not get proper shelter and breaks in extreme heat. On the other hand, falling overboard or otherwise experiencing exposure to freezing water temperatures can result in hypothermia.
#9. Truck Accidents
The oil industry relies heavily on truck drivers to work long hours with heavy and often hazardous loads. These truck drivers might have to traverse dangerous roadways to deliver their loads, and truck crashes are all too common. Sometimes, the truck driver suffers injuries in a crash, while in other accidents, the trucker injures other motorists.
With the oil industry continuing to boom, it is more important than ever for oil truck drivers to follow all necessary safety regulations and policies. However, oil companies seek ways to best profit from the industry growth, and this can involve cutting corners when it comes to safety.
Because oil truck drivers are not subject to the usual hours of service regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), companies often push drivers to work for too long, causing overly tired drivers to make deadly mistakes.
Some oil companies might fail to maintain trucks in working order, or they might push drivers to repeatedly use roads not suitable for heavy industrial vehicles. Whatever causes an oil truck accident, the results can be life-altering for victims, including oil truck drivers.
Liability for an Oil Field Accident: How Claims and Financial Compensation Operate in Oil Field Injury Cases
Workers’ compensation is the first remedy for any workplace accident. In some circumstances, this is your only means of recourse for a workplace injury.
We can summarize the purpose of workers’ compensation into two functions:
- It provides benefits to an injured worker to ensure that you receive the money you need to cover your medical and living expenses while injured.
- It protects your employer from legal liability. Once a workers’ compensation claim settles, you do not have the legal right to file a lawsuit against your employer for that injury. Workers’ compensation benefits should cover injured workers whether or not the employer was at fault.
Workers’ compensation covers benefits up to a mandated maximum amount, which is often far lower than the damages a personal injury lawsuit for the same injury would allow for. This is why a worker’s compensation claim eliminates your right to bring a personal injury suit against your employer.
You receive guaranteed benefits, and it is a financial relief to an employer that would otherwise be liable for much larger sums of damages in the absence of workers’ compensation or if the victim isn’t an employee.
Workers’ compensation benefits can include:
- Medical expenses: These include all doctor and hospital visits, medication, surgery, diagnostic testing, treatment, therapy, physical rehabilitation, assistive or adaptive devices, and any other costs related to your recovery from your workplace injury.
- Lost wages: Benefits replace lost wages if your injury causes you to miss work, up to a specific weekly maximum.
- Survivor benefits: If a family member suffered injuries and died in an oilfield accident, you might receive a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wages. Workers’ compensation also covers a portion of funeral and burial expenses
Workers’ compensation does not cover damages for pain and suffering, however, or other long-term non-monetary losses a victim will continue to suffer from the accident. There are certain exceptions to the rule barring lawsuits following an oilfield injury suffered on the job, so explore these with the help of a San Antonio oilfield injury attorney.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
What if your injury happened due to the negligence of a third party with no direct affiliation with your employer? In this situation, you can file an insurance claim or personal injury case seeking damages for costs of the injury against the oil company, equipment manufacturer, or another party who was negligent.
In addition, the law allows you to recover financially from both a workers’ compensation settlement and a lawsuit following such an injury. The law does not excuse a third party’s liability due to worker’s compensation claims, and you are free to bring a personal injury lawsuit against third parties whose negligence helped cause the accident.
For example, what if your equipment fails due to an inherent defect, causing you to receive burns while on the oil field? This would be an injury due to the negligence of the manufacturer of the equipment and could give rise to a product liability lawsuit. Perhaps it was a negligent independent contractor outside of your employer who injured you. You could sue that contractor.
Third-party lawsuits often far exceed the financial compensation awarded by workers’ compensation, so it is often lucrative to pursue a claim if the possibility exists. This is, in part, because you can seek damages for pain and suffering and other intangible damages that workers’ compensation will not cover. If your injury is severe, you have a much better chance of receiving full compensation for all losses if you can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party lawsuit.
After an oilfield injury, you should always allow a San Antonio oilfield injury lawyer to evaluate your options for financial recovery. Doing so can maximize the amount you receive and recover compensation for your pain and suffering whenever possible.
What It Takes to Succeed in Recovering Full Compensation for Your Oilfield Injury
In any scenario, if you suffer injuries in an accident while working on an oilfield, you should receive benefits from workers’ compensation or other sources. However, you must first prove that your injury was work-related and stemmed from the course of your employment. You also must demonstrate the medical treatment you needed and the time you needed to take away from work.
This can be more challenging than you might believe in many situations since insurance companies might try to challenge your claim however they can.
They might try to claim that:
- Your injury occurred away from work, so workers’ compensation coverage should not apply.
- Your injuries are not as severe as you claim, so you did not require all of the time off work that you took.
- Not all of the medical treatment you received was necessary for your injuries.
You will need to provide additional evidence and arguments if the insurer challenges your claim. Sometimes, an experienced oilfield attorney can present additional information or records, and the insurer will start issuing benefits.
If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, you must establish negligence to recover compensation. Establishing negligence of a contractor, equipment manufacturing company, or anyone else is not easy.
Even determining the cause of an explosion on the oilfield requires significant resources and investigative work because you need to know which factors led to your injuries.
To prove negligence and liability for your oilfield injuries, you need to show that:
- The defendant or defendants owed you a duty of care under the circumstances, such as the duty to manufacture safe and working equipment.
- The defendant or defendants breached the duty of care, such as by manufacturing defective equipment that malfunctioned.
- The breach of duty led to your injuries.
- You suffered losses due to your injuries.
To you, it might seem obvious what happened in your oilfield accident. However, you have to break it down in legal terms and elements to prevail in your injury case. This is what makes having the right attorney imperative to your success. They will know how to investigate what happened and gather sufficient evidence to prove negligence in your lawsuit. Never wait to start working with a San Antonio oilfield attorney you can trust.
How Our Lawyers Can Help You
When oilfield workers suffer harm in serious accidents, they can obtain financial compensation to help alleviate some of the financial burdens they face. In many cases, the injured victims feel pressure from insurance companies to accept minimal settlement offers for their injuries and losses.
Rather than accepting these lowball offers or insufficient financial settlements, the injured worker must contact a skilled and experienced oilfield accident attorney in San Antonio as soon as possible. Doing so can protect your legal rights and avoid a settlement for much less than you deserve.
The following are only some of the many ways the right oilfield injury attorney can help during the insurance process:
- Determine whether there are different sources of liability, such as third-party negligence claims
- Calculate your damages
- Communicate and negotiate with third-party insurers to get the highest possible settlement offer
Although most cases settle before litigation, if the insurance companies involved refuse to offer a fair amount, you will need a lawyer to escalate the matter. This might involve appealing the matter to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel or filing a lawsuit against a third-party defendant in civil court. Our practice focuses on pursuing actions against third-party defendants.
These are situations that The Wyatt Law Firm handles regularly and achieves successful outcomes for our clients. After a serious oilfield injury, the last thing you need to do is navigate the insurance or legal process. The process is already complicated for legal professionals, and it can be extremely frustrating and difficult for injured individuals with little to no experience with injury claims.
In addition, having legal representation regularly results in higher benefits or settlements for injury victims. The insurance companies know that unrepresented claimants will often accept much less than they deserve, and they feel no obligation to fully compensate claims. Once you have an attorney in your corner, the insurance adjuster will likely take you and your claim much more seriously. They know that they can no longer trick you into settling for less than you deserve, and this is only one of many ways that the right oilfield attorney can assist you.
Finding the Right Lawyer for The Job
To find the right lawyer for an oilfield accident case, you need to search for a law firm with the resources and experience to handle this unique type of injury case. The right attorney will know how to deal with workers’ compensation claims and lawsuits against third-party individuals and companies. They should have a proven track record of success in this area.
At The Wyatt Law Firm, we have the investigative resources necessary to handle the complex process of evidence gathering and proving fault in oilfield accidents. Whether your injuries are from an explosion or a defective piece of equipment, our resources allow us to conduct thorough investigations to determine the root cause of the accident.
The right lawyers for the job will determine exactly how much compensation your claim is potentially worth and pursue that as their goal, working to succeed through initial claim settlement or a court verdict. Your lawyer should review every aspect of your injury, including how it happened, who was at fault, and how much it will cost for your treatment and recovery. With the proper lawyer’s advice and representation, you can get the money you need to pay for recovery and life expenses resulting from your injuries. Look no further than The Wyatt Law Firm for help with your oilfield injury claim.
What to Know About Work-Related Injuries in the Oil and Gas Industry
What do I do if I was in an oil field accident?
- If possible, notify your supervisor of the incident to document the incident.
- After notifying your supervisor, seek medical treatment immediately. Document your injuries and symptoms as soon as possible to retain the value of your claim.
- After you have sought medical treatment, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer, preferably a personal injury lawyer well-versed in handling oilfield accident lawsuits. The personal injury lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm have decades of experience in handling oilfield accident lawsuits. We are familiar with the entire process of an oilfield accident claim from start to finish.
- Additionally, we will make sure that you receive state-of-the-art treatment for the injuries you sustained in an oilfield accident.
#1. Do I have a legal claim if I already received worker’s compensation?
Yes, you may have a legal claim, even if you received worker’s compensation benefits. Please note that the Wyatt Law Firm does not handle worker’s compensation claims, but we are eager to represent you for a personal injury claim. If a third party caused or contributed to your accident, we may help you recover more than workers’ comp, such as compensation for pain and suffering.
#2. What if I was exposed to chemicals while working on the job? Do I still have a case?
Absolutely. Exposure to harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, among many other compounds, can harm or kill you. First, seek medical treatment and then contact an experienced oilfield attorney who has handled claims related to toxic chemical exposure.
#3. I got fired for using my stop-work authority. Do I have a case?
Wyatt Law Firm applauds you for taking appropriate measures to ensure safety where you work. However, our personal injury firm represents injury victims and seeks maximum compensation for damages caused by negligence. If you give us a call, we are happy to refer you to a firm that handles employment law.
#4. What happens if I can’t work anymore because of my injuries?
You may be entitled to disability compensation because you have lost your vocation and earning ability. At the Wyatt Law Firm, we fight hard for maximum compensation because we realize that major accidents change lives forever, even preventing people from returning to work.
#5. Can I claim lost wages?
Yes. Wyatt Law Firm helps clients claim lost wages and future damages for loss of vocational ability.
#6. What if I had a prior oil field accident and got reinjured?
It’s proof that you work in a dangerous industry! If your oil field accident aggravated an old injury, you are still entitled to seek compensation, including damages for chronic pain or permanent impairment.
#7. What are examples of oil field accidents?
Danger lurks everywhere in the oil and gas fields of Texas. Despite safety regulations and improvements in equipment and procedures, thousands of serious accidents happen every year.
These examples are all too typical:
- Despite wearing a hard hat, a worker suffers a traumatic brain injury when a piece of equipment falls on their head.
- A worker suffers serious burns when leaking gas is ignited by a spark.
- An overworked truck driver causes an accident when delivering supplies to a work site.
#8. Who Can Claim Compensation?
Most, if not all, oil and gas workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits following a workplace injury. But when an injury is caused by the negligence of a third party such as an equipment manufacturer, contractor, or service provider, they can claim additional money. In many cases, the value of a third-party claim can far exceed that of the work comp benefits the worker receives.
Fatal Oil Field Accidents
Every year, over 100 oil field workers die from oil field accident injuries. Many of these workers died on Texas worksites or while working for Texas-based oil and gas corporations, and four out of every ten workers died in worksite transportation accidents.
The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that oil field fatalities most commonly occur from:
- Falls (elevated falls and slipping accidents)
- Thermal explosions resulting in fires
- Pressurized explosions resulting in shrapnel propulsion
- On-site motor vehicle and transportation accidents
- Latent cancers due to chemical exposure
- Crushing injuries due to poor machine guarding
- Suffocation due to confined space toxicity
Whether your loved one died immediately following gas explosions, passed away after months in a coma, or died from terminal cancers caused by oil field carcinogens, our San Antonio wrongful death lawyers help families who might recover financial compensation.
Most fatal injuries sustained on the job qualify beneficiaries for no-fault death benefits through workers’ compensation insurers while depriving them of the right to bring a claim against the employer. However, gross negligence on the part of the employer kills a worker, the family may recover punitive damages. Moreover, if the negligence of a third party caused the death, the family may recover both compensatory and punitive damages.
Experienced wrongful death lawyers can help families identify evidence linking your loved one’s death directly to oil site injuries and toxicity.
In most cases, these fatal conditions happened due to oil field accidents and events:
- Heart Attacks – As the leading cause of death in the United States, especially among men, most insurers initially deny death benefits when a cardiac arrest causes a death. However, oil industry employees have an increased risk of suffering from cardiopulmonary disease and cardiac arrest due to the chemicals frequently released on gas and oil sites. Employees trapped in confined spaces with toxic air quality or forced to inhale smoke may suffer from sudden heart attacks. Common oilfield chemicals resulting in diseases contributing to heart attacks include sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, PAHs, HF acid, hydrogen fluoride, carcinogens, and tar sand by-products.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries – Struck-by accidents resulting in concussions or other head injuries may not seem serious when they first occur. The employee may clock out for the day and attempt to recover overnight. However, these injuries may result in brain bleeding and swelling that cause sudden headaches and brain death. Any delay between the initial accident and the claimant’s death, especially if the claimant left work without assistance, often result in initial denials that experienced attorneys can overcome.
- Cancer – Similar to heart attacks from drill site toxins, insurers often deny benefits to families of employees who eventually die from cancers. Experienced San Antonio workers’ compensation attorneys might help families prove that their loved one’s condition stemmed from a toxic work environment.
- Burns – Most insurers do not deny benefits after oilfield workers suffer from widespread burns after explosions. However, they may deny coverage if the employee dies from burn-related infections, lung damage, or other complications in the months following the accident. Families might still recover death benefits in such cases despite insurance denials.
#1. Obtaining Wrongful Death Compensation
While our attorneys at the Wyatt Law Firm do not handle workers’ compensation cases, we believe families should understand their rights and what the workers’ compensation system can and cannot do for them following a tragic loss.
Fatal oil and gas accidents frequently kill skilled workers in the prime of their careers, including those working grueling hours to provide for their families. Nearly all deadly drill site accidents qualify families to demand lost wage, funeral, and medical compensation from their loved one’s workers’ compensation insurer. Though Texas does not require employers to maintain this coverage, nearly all oil and gas companies provide insurance. Employers without insurance expose themselves to direct liability for workplace deaths.
If the employer maintains workers’ comp coverage, Texas law states that this becomes the exclusive remedy against employers for families of oil field employees killed in workplace accidents. However, special expectations apply after fatal workplace accidents.
Surviving spouses and children of wrongfully killed loved ones may demand exemplary (punitive) damages directly from employers who intentionally or recklessly caused the death. This exception often applies when the employer intentionally or carelessly cuts safety corners, including refusing to replace failing pipes or provide safety equipment.
#2. Demanding Death Benefits After Fatal Oil Field Accidents
Families of employees killed on the job, including on the drill site or while being transported to and from the rig, may generally obtain immediate death benefits from workers’ compensation insurers.
These benefits go to the deceased employee’s spouse for his/her lifetime unless the spouse remarries, in which case the surviving spouse receives a lump sum payout equally to two additional years of death benefits. Benefits are equal to 75 percent of the deceased’s average weekly wages. Additionally, the workers’ comp carrier must generally reimburse families for up to $10,000 in funeral expenses and any medical bills related to the deceased’s treatment.
If the deceased had both a spouse and minor children, the spouse receives 50 percent of the benefits, and the dependent children split the remaining 50 percent. Children may receive these benefits until they turn 18 or until the age of 25 if they’re full-time college students. Dependent adult children with mental or physical disabilities, however, may receive lifetime benefits.
Other family members may also recover temporary death benefits if the deceased left no surviving spouse or minor children:
- Adult children
Non-family members cannot generally recover death benefits from workers’ compensation insurers even if they depended on the deceased.
#3. Calculating Death Benefits After Drill Site Accidents
Insurers calculate your entitlement to lifetime benefits by using special average weekly wage (AWW) formulas. You determine AWW by adding all the wages and benefits earned by the employee in the 13 weeks before the fatal accident and dividing them by 13. These calculations include the value of health insurance premiums, overtime pay, bonuses, car allowances, and other benefits the employee previously received.
Alternative calculations are possible, including calculations based on similarly situated employees if the employee did not work in the weeks before the accident. Beneficiaries (generally spouses and children) may also include income from the second job’s income lost due to the oil field accident. However, Texas recently set the maximum weekly death benefit at $1,007. Because oil field employees generally command high salaries due to worksite dangers, many families cannot live on this limited income.
#4. Appealing Workers’ Compensation Insurance Denials
Because spouses may demand lifetime death benefits, which can amount to millions in lost wages, insurers adjusters often find ways to deny families needed death benefits. In most cases, insurers may claim the death occurred while the claimant was off-duty, due to preexisting conditions (heart attack unrelated to job site accidents), or the deceased’s conduct disqualifies his/her family from obtaining coverage.
For example, adjusters may claim the injury occurred due to the worker’s intoxication or reckless conduct. Speak with Texas workers’ comp lawyers immediately after receiving these denials, as families must appeal them within 90 days of receiving the initial rejection letter.
#5. Filing Texas Wrongful Death Claims After Fatal Oil Worker Injuries
Workers’ compensation death benefits may provide immediate relief to struggling families; however, they cannot fairly compensate loved ones for their devastating loss. Further, death benefits do not include financial compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased or payments to loved ones for the emotional, physical, and social losses associated with sudden fatalities.
Most families don’t realize that Texas workers’ compensation laws only protect their loved one’s employer and employees of that employer (co-workers) from civil liability. They do not protect non-employers –product manufacturers, drill site owners, independent contractors, and employees of other companies from liability for causing the worker’s wrongful death. It also does not prevent families from demanding punitive damages from employers for intentional and reckless safety violations resulting in an employee’s death.
#6. Parties Eligible to File Wrongful Death Claims and Litigation Deadlines
After fatal Texas oil rig accidents, beneficiaries might file wrongful death litigation under Texas’s wrongful death statute. Only the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased may generally benefit from wrongful death settlements and/or verdicts. Similarly, the decedent’s estate may also assert a claim under the Texas survival statute. If the claim arises from the gross negligence of the employer, only the surviving spouse and children may assert a claim.
Though these individuals have two years from the date of death to file wrongful death lawsuits, they must generally initiate litigation within three months. If they do not, the executor or administrator of the estate appointed under the will or by default may bring the case on behalf of the claimant’s beneficiaries.
#7. Wrongful Death Damages Available After Fatal Oil Field Accidents
Eligible claimants may bring wrongful death claims against non-employers who carelessly, recklessly, or intentionally caused their loved one’s fatal injuries. In such cases, claimants may generally demand both economic and non-economic damages above the limited lost income benefits provided by worker’s compensation insurers.
These damages may include:
- The additional 25 percent of the deceased’s lost wages, including the value of future raises
- Lost inheritance and retirement benefits
- Any unpaid funeral costs and medical expenses
- The value of the deceased’s physical pain and emotional suffering before death
- Loss of consortium (physical spousal companionship)
- Lost parental guidance
- Lost social companionship
Studies demonstrate that juries generally calculate non-economic damages, such as lost consortium, by multiplying the value of the family’s direct economic losses. Juries may apportion damages between eligible family members and often award young families substantial non-economic damages in wrongful death cases.
Additionally, families might demand exemplary damages when intentional conduct or extremely reckless conduct results in fatal oilfield accidents in addition to compensatory damages. Proving that oil companies sacrificed worker safety for profit, generally by showing multiple OSHA violations, may result in high-value punitive damages awards to protect other employees from potentially fatal accidents.
#8. Timeline for Recovering Compensation Following San Antonio Oil Field Deaths
Most wrongful death claims, whether filed with worker’s compensation insurers or against negligent third parties, settle with liable insurance companies. This may include lump-sum settlements received from workers’ compensation, property, automotive, and disability insurers responsible for providing death benefits. Eligible family members should begin receiving workers’ compensation benefits and funeral reimbursement almost immediately after filing their initial claims.
Attorneys may work with workers’ comp insurers to request lump-sum payouts for spouses and children thereafter or file quick appeals and demand retroactive benefits. It takes substantially less time to obtain workers’ comp benefits because of the state’s no-fault system. Provided families show the accident occurred on the job and the injuries resulted in their loved one’s death, insurers should pay death benefits regardless of fault.
It takes longer to settle wrongful death cases with liable third-party insurers because these claims require beneficiaries to show that the death resulted from unlawful conduct, which may include general worksite negligence or product defects. Viable cases often settle within 14 months following the fatal oilfield accident. If families elect to litigate their claims, it may take years to recover jury verdicts.
Wrongful death lawyers may recommend filing litigation if insurers refuse to accept liability or make lowball settlement offers that do not reflect your financial and emotional losses. Juries may award wrongful death damages, including high-value punitive damages, regardless of insurance limits.
#9. Benefits of Retaining Experienced Oil Field Injury Attorneys in Wrongful Death Cases
The compassionate San Antonio injury attorneys at the Wyatt Law Firm will help families navigate the complex claims process following fatal oil and gas accidents without any upfront fees or costs. We understand that you need time to grieve, which is why our wrongful death lawyers can handle nearly all administrative matters arising after fatal oilfield accidents.
Despite the devastating nature of your trauma, families must file wrongful death and workers’ compensation claims quickly to preserve their rights to financial recovery. There’s little to no risk associated with contacting us for free today for a confidential case consultation. We don’t get paid unless we recover needed insurance settlements or wrongful death verdicts for the families of Texas oil workers who died on the job.
San Antonio Oil Field Injuries/Oil Rig Explosions/Offshore Injuries FAQs
The oil and gas industry is complicated, and injuries to workers can lead to complex aftermaths and legal claims. The following are some questions our oil field injury attorneys hear, along with some brief answers. If you suffered injuries and want to discuss your specific situation, reach out to our team directly for your free, no-obligation case evaluation.
#1. What Should I Do After an Oil Field Accident and Injury?
If you sustain injuries in any type of oil industry accident, you cannot expect to simply receive compensation automatically without taking action. You can preserve your right to receive fair benefits or compensation for your injuries and losses following an accident by following these steps:
Notify Your Employer – You should let your supervisor or another appropriate representative of your employer know that the accident happened and you suffered injuries as a result. Sometimes, you might not be able to notify them right away due to the severity of your injuries. If this is the case, notify them as soon as your health is stable enough.
Get Proper Medical Treatment – Never ignore the signs of a possible injury after an oil field accident. Some people might feel the need to tough it out or expect that soreness or other symptoms might dissipate naturally. However, to receive compensation for your injuries, get a prompt diagnosis.
Different oil field injuries can result in symptoms that you might discount, including:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Stress fractures
- Ear or eye injuries
If you feel disorientation, stiffness, soreness, ringing in your ears, or any other signs that something might be wrong, it is always best to seek medical treatment. Doctors can properly evaluate you and diagnose any injuries, which records that your injuries stemmed from the oil field accident and not another event. Once you have a treatment plan in place, make sure you follow it so you reach maximum recovery.
Once your physical condition is under control, do not delay in consulting with our experienced San Antonio offshore injury attorneys who handle oil-related accident and injury claims. We need to start investigating the cause of the accident as soon as possible, especially since the oil company may begin its own investigation immediately. You want to make sure you have the representation you need from the start of the process.
#2. Can I File a Claim Against My Oil Employer?
Generally, injured workers seek benefits for job-related injuries through the workers’ compensation system or under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) for those injured on navigable waters. For this reason, many injury victims do not realize there might be other sources of compensation available.
We help injured workers determine whether they have claims for negligence arising from their accident and injuries.
We can examine whether a party’s negligent conduct led to your injuries and file personal injury lawsuits against:
- Oil and gas companies
- Manufacturing companies
- Any other party responsible for your accident
Never assume that workers’ compensation is your only legal recourse, as these claims often provide much less than you might receive in a personal injury case. For example, workers’ compensation benefits do not cover pain and suffering or other non-economic losses, but a personal injury case can. Discuss your rights to complete compensation with a member of our legal team.
#3. What Should I Do if an Insurance Company Contacts Me Directly?
In some situations, an insurance company for an at-fault party might contact you to discuss what happened. Do not discuss the accident with an insurance representative without an oil injury attorney present.
First, insurance adjusters want you to say something that allows them to avoid liability or downplay your injuries and losses. It is all too easy to make a seemingly harmless remark that jeopardizes your injury claim. Even answering that you are fine can lead the adjuster to allege your injuries are not as serious as the claim states.
Second, some insurance companies will try to get you to accept a settlement offer for much less than you need and deserve. They might offer you money right out of the gate, hoping that you will simply want a quick check in your hand. Beware of early settlement offers, as they are generally insultingly low. This is especially common when an injured worker does not yet have legal representation.
If you accept an inadequate settlement, you cannot go back and ask for additional funds. If you say something that the insurer misinterprets, it can be difficult to backpedal later. When an insurance company calls you, politely decline to discuss anything at length and then reach out to an oil field injury attorney. We can handle all of your communications with insurers to preserve your rights and work toward a settlement that covers all your past and future losses.
#4. How Much Is San Antonio My Oil Injury Claim Worth?
We cannot answer this question without knowing the specific details of your case. However, we can describe some common losses for which our clients recover after this type of injury:
Medical expenses – Medical care is expensive, even for seemingly minor injuries. Even one trip to the emergency room can result in a pile of medical bills from several different providers. If your injury requires ongoing medical care, you can face thousands or more in expenses.
If your accident was someone else’s fault, there is no reason why you should be responsible for paying a dime for your medical care. Our attorneys know how to take all of your treatment into account, including surgery, hospitalization, medications, medical devices, therapy, and more. We ensure that you receive full compensation for your medical bills and losses.
Lost wages – Many oil field accidents result in injuries serious enough to keep you out of work. Even if you only missed a few days of work, it can result in enough lost income to negatively affect your budget. Many people injured in offshore accidents must miss weeks or months of work while they recover. This might be because their doctors instructed them to rest or their injuries impede their ability to perform their job duties. In either situation, you should not have to incur any lost wages due to your injuries, and we can seek compensation for your lost earnings.
Future losses – For many people with severe injuries, the losses do not stop after an injury claim or lawsuit. Instead, they might need ongoing care and support for years to come, or they might continue losing earnings long after the case is complete.
For this reason, we have economic and medical experts who can help us calculate an accurate estimate for your future losses. We then seek compensation for these losses, even though you have not experienced them yet.
Intangible losses – If you suffered a serious injury, its effects likely go far beyond your wallet. You might experience pain from your injuries, suffering from limitations, and other adverse effects on your life. While these losses do not directly stem from financial bills or costs, you still deserve to recover financially for intangible losses.
Some common intangible losses in serious oil field injury claims include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lasting disfigurement and disability
- Loss of consortium (which applies to the spouse of an injured individual)
We fight for all the intangible losses you experienced just as hard as we fight for your financial losses.
#5. What if an Explosion Caused Permanent Injuries?
If this is the case, you are not alone. Oil field explosions can result in life-changing catastrophic injuries.
Some of these injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results in permanent cognitive or physical impairments
- Complete spinal cord injuries that cause permanent paralysis
- Severe burns that require treatment in burn centers and leave you with permanent scarring
- Amputations of extremities, digits, or limbs
- Permanent inner ear damage that causes hearing loss
If you sustain an injury with permanent effects, it can change almost every aspect of your life. You deserve compensation for the lasting impact of your impairments, disabilities, or disfigurement from your injuries. This is in addition to the losses for future lost earning abilities, loss of quality of life, and more.
#6. How Long Should I Wait to Contact a San Antonio Oil Field Injury Attorney?
Suffering injuries in a serious oil-related accident can traumatize you. Your entire life can seem to halt as you spend time in the hospital, undergoing surgery, and recovering at home. Between the costs of treatment and the impact on your family’s life, you have a lot to worry about. Many people in this situation wonder how long they can put off contacting an oil field injury lawyer and beginning the legal process.
The reality is that the sooner you get our legal team involved, the better it can be for your case.
Time is not unlimited when it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit following an oil field injury because:
- Texas has a two-year statute of limitations during which you must file a claim, or the court will likely dismiss your lawsuit.
- Evidence of fault and liability can disappear after the oil company or other parties conclude their investigations, and you want your own lawyer to investigate the accident and gather evidence to support your negligence claim.
Further, you do not need to feel stressed regarding the start of the legal process.
Our San Antonio oil field injury lawyers handle every aspect of your claim, such as:
- Identifying all parties that might share liability for your losses
- Calculating your past and future losses
- Filing insurance claims with all the appropriate insurance companies
- Communicating with insurance companies
- Negotiating if an insurance settlement offer is inadequate
- Filing a lawsuit in civil court if necessary
- Handling every part of the litigation process
In reality, calling a lawyer should take the stress off your plate. You can rest assured that we are protecting your legal rights and pursuing compensation while you continue to focus on your physical recovery.
After an oil field explosion or other accident, evidence can disappear quickly. Do not rely on the oil company’s investigations, as you want your own legal representation to determine whom to hold accountable for your injuries.
Paula and her team at Wyatt Law Firm represented me professionally and fought hard for every dollar to the very end! She takes her cases personal and actually gets to know you, building a great relationship! She put me in touch with world class doctors right here in Texas! I could not be more pleased!!! I would definitely recommend Wyatt Law Firm to anyone in need of an attorney! At the end of the day, they offer caring, stress free, professional, hard working, services to hard working and honest American people! Don’t waste your time elsewhere!!!
Wyatt Law Firm, PLLC
21 Lynn Batts Lane, Suite 10
San Antonio, Texas 78218