Injured In An Oilfield In Texas?
Texas Oilfield Accidents & Injury Lawyers Fighting for Your Rights
Texas is home to a robust oil and gas industry. Thousands of oil fields with towering oil rigs, pump jacks and derricks stretch across the Lone Star state with the bulk of production coming from the rich Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale in West Texas.
Working in the energy sector can be a lucrative career for many Texans but it can also be very dangerous.
According to data compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a worker in the oil and gas industry is six times more likely to die on the job than the average American worker in another occupation.
From exposure to toxic chemicals and highly combustible material to handling heavy machinery, the risks of getting seriously injured or killed are high.
Oil Production In Texas
The energy sector in TX is currently producing oil at record levels, marking a rebound after a three-year slump. A surge in crude oil prices ($68 a barrel), growing global demand for fuels, and new drilling technologies have contributed to the oil boom.
Higher oil prices lead to higher rig counts which mean more workers in the field. As the pressure to drill intensifies, the focus becomes about generating higher output, sometimes at the expense of worker safety.
When safety is overlooked, disastrous accidents can occur, leaving workers horribly injured and struggling with insurmountable medical bills and life-long health issues.
Obtaining a Fair Settlement or Verdict for Injuries Sustained in Oilfield Accident
We calculate the true financial impact of your accident and present this figure to the insurance company. If they refuse to negotiate or fairly compensate you, we are prepared to file a lawsuit against them on your behalf and fight for your interests in court.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to recover damages for:
- medical treatment
- lost wages and lost earning capacity
- pain and suffering
- mental anguish
- loss of consortium
Types of Oil Accident Claims
One of the central questions in an oilfield accident claim is — who is responsible? To get to the truth, we will conduct a thorough investigation to identify the liable party.
There are many players involved in the oil and gas industry with varying degrees of responsibility.
Workers’ Compensation Claim
Employers in TX have the option of choosing whether or not to carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees who get hurt on the job.
If they subscribe to this program, they are protected from personal injury lawsuits being filed against them in exchange for allowing employees to pursue compensation through the Texas Department of Insurance – Workers’ Compensation Division.
Workers’ compensation provides a certain level of recovery coverage for oil field injuries including compensation for medical expenses and wage benefits while you are unable to work. If you have a permanent impairment, you may be able to recover additional benefits.
If your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to sue your employer directly for your injuries. To have a successful personal injury claim, you will need to prove that your employer’s negligence caused the accident.
Oilfield accident attorneys Gregory Bevel and Wesley Gould will gather evidence and witness testimony that supports your case.
We will also investigate:
- the history of safety violations against your employer
- history of violations issued by OSHA
- safety complaints filed by coworkers
- complaints against supervisors, and third parties
Unlike worker’s compensation claims which are limited to:
- medical expenses
- a percentage of your wages for a limited period of time
- limited benefits for permanent impairment
You can pursue all available economic and non-economic damages in a non-subscriber claim.
Third Party Personal Injury Claim
It’s possible that a third-party, other than your direct employer is liable for your accident.
Potential negligent parties in a third-party claim may include:
- Contractors and subcontractors
- Manufacturer of defective oil or gas equipment
- Manufacturer of toxic chemicals
- Trucking companies, shipping companies, and vehicle manufacturers
- Oil company
- Company man
All economic and non-economic damages can be pursued in a third-party personal injury claim.
40% of all oil field deaths in the United States occur in Texas. If your loved one’s life was tragically cut short in an oilfield accident, you have the right to pursue compensation for damages you’ve suffered.
Texas law allows a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased victim to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party in an effort to recover medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Types of Oil and Gas Accidents
Contrary to popular belief, oil workers are more likely to die driving than in the oil field or on a rig.
In fact, traffic accidents are the leading cause of job-related deaths among oil and gas workers, accounting for 40% of the industry’s fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Oil and gas workers work long hours and travel far distances to and from job sites and fatigue can sometimes set in.
In addition to fatigue, oil and gas workers are forced to navigate congested and poorly maintained rural roads while driving large tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and commercial vans carrying heavy and dangerous materials.
Employers are responsible for developing reasonable work schedules and enforcing driver safety policies to ensure their employees aren’t overworked or put in harm’s way.
Contact With Equipment
Oilfield and rig workers are required to work on and around an array of heavy, high-speed equipment and machinery including:
- rotating wellhead equipment
- cables and high-pressure lines.
Three out of five fatalities occur when workers are either caught between machines or struck by falling objects.
Equipment Failure or Malfunction
When oil field equipment fails or malfunctions, it puts workers’ lives at risk.
In the event that someone is injured or killed, a third party claim may be filed against the company that either owns, operates, manufacturers, sells or maintains the defective equipment.
Machinery that is known to fail includes blowout preventers, hoists, turntables, drill strings, and other drilling tools. Common causes of defective machinery include:
- design defects
- failure to inspect, maintain, replace or repair faulty equipment
- improper construction or installation of equipment
- metal fatigue
- failing to implement proper safety standards and procedures
Gas Leaks and Explosions
Flammable gases, oils and vapors released from tanks, shale shakers, generations, engines, wells and other equipment can easily ignite when coming into contact with cutting and welding tools, open flames, electrical sources, hot surfaces, and even cigarettes.
The smallest spark can set the entire rig ablaze creating a dire situation for everyone on board.
Vapors that release from the drilling process can also accumulate over time and seep into storage containers.
Eventually, pressure builds up to a point where the containers can no longer hold causing an explosion.
Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
Oil and gas workers are regularly exposed to chemical hazards in the workplace putting them at risk of developing a life-threatening disease of the lungs, skin, or other organs.
Some of the most dangerous and poisonous chemicals include:
- hydrogen sulfide (or H2S)
- mercury vapor
- diesel exhaust
- petroleum gas
- naturally occurring radioactive materials
- sulfur dioxide.
H2S is especially hazardous because it is a colorless gas that is highly toxic. Death can occur in just seconds if breathed in high concentrations.
Slip, Trip, and Fall-Related Accidents
Life on an offshore oil rig often involves working on derricks and platforms that are hundreds of feet in the air. Falling from such heights can result in traumatic injury, even death.
Falls Occur When Workers
- climb up and down ladders from one deck of the rig to another
- removing or inserting a drill pipe into a wellbore
- monkey board drilling
- other drilling activities.
OSHA requires employers to provide fall protection to safeguard workers from these risks.
What to Do and Not Do After an Oilfield Accident
- Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Your health should be your number one priority.
- Notify Your Employer: Report the injury to your direct supervisor as soon as possible. Fill out an incident report
- Make a list of witnesses/co-workers
- Make a list of all companies and contractors on site
- Write down any irregularities you may have witnessed regarding machine performance
- Keep Your Protective Gear, Boots, Hard Hat, and Clothing
- Take Pictures of the accident site and your injuries
- Give a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster. Anything you say can and will be used against you to diminish your claim. If an insurance agent asks to talk to you, you’re free to say no, hang up, and call an attorney.
- Sign any documents authorizing the release of medical records
- Accept a settlement. Chances are, with the legal representation you’ll be offered more.
Common Injuries Sustained
Extracting oil is inherently dangerous whether it’s done onshore or offshore. In the last five years, 18,000 injuries have taken place in Texas oil and gas fields, some of which have included:
- Limb Amputations
- Broken Bones
- Serious Burns from Fire or Chemicals
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Crushing Injuries
- Serious Cuts and Abrasions
- Occupational illness: silicosis disease; lung and throat infections and cancers; asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases; damage to the liver
- Chemical poisoning
- Hearing loss
If you were injured or tragically lost a loved one in an accident on an oil rig, drilling site, or offshore oil platform in Dallas, TX, it’s imperative that you speak with an oil and gas injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Get Help From Experienced Oilfield Accident Injury Attorneys In Texas
Legal cases involving the oil and gas industry are complex and require a seasoned attorney to help navigate the process.
Gregory Bevel and Wesley Gould have successfully represented oil and gas workers and their families in a wide variety of oilfield accident-related claims including personal injury, workers compensation, product liability and wrongful death.
We have a proven track record of standing up to powerful oil and gas companies, drilling contractors, and service companies and demanding full and fair financial restitution for our injured clients.
Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation: (214) 580-2555