| Read Time: 4 minutes | Oil Field Injuries

The oil and gas industry is one of the most hazardous sectors, with workers facing a higher risk of injuries.

According to a seven-year study by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), around 2.6% of all severe work-related injuries reported were in the oil and gas industry alone.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the oil and gas industry in New Mexico had an occupational fatality rate of 51 per 100,000 workers.

The fatality rate not only makes oil and gas the most dangerous industry in the state but also one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. 

Based on this data, it’s not surprising that many workers in the industry receive an injury. If this happens to you, you must know you have rights under New Mexico’s workers’ compensation laws.

To help, we’ve compiled a guide on filing a workers’ comp claim in New Mexico and what you can expect. If you have questions or would like to speak to a New Mexico oil rig accident attorney, please contact us today.

How to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in New Mexico

New Mexico’s Workers’ Compensation Act covers oilfield workers in the state. Filing a workers’ comp claim is the first step toward compensation for medical expenses, wage replacement, and permanent disability.

However, the oil and gas industry presents unique challenges, such as proving that the injury occurred in the scope of employment and dealing with employers or insurers who may attempt to minimize claims. Here are some steps you should take to help build your claim.

1. Notify Your Employer

When it’s safe, notify your employer about the injury immediately. New Mexico law requires you to make this notification within 15 days of the accident or discovery of the injury. Failure to do so may jeopardize your claim. 

However, if your injury is severe enough that you can’t notify your employer, you have 60 days from the accident date to report the injury.

Additionally, if any supervisor handling your claim had direct knowledge or witnessed your injury, you don’t have to provide a written notice. That said, we recommend notifying your employer anyway for the sake of your claim.

2. Collect and Preserve Evidence

To prepare for your claim, you should collect and preserve any evidence of your injury. Evidence could include pictures of the work environment during the accident, your injuries, or even the machinery you used. 

Another often overlooked piece of evidence is your clothing. Do your best to keep your clothes in their current condition.

Depending on the severity of your injury, emergency responders might remove them. Kindly ask the responders to return your clothes to you in the hospital without washing them.

3. Submit Your Notice of Accident Form to the WCA

After notifying your employer, they should provide you with a form to file a claim with the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration (WCA).

This form, known as the Notice of Accident form, must be filled out and submitted to the employer. Your employer has 72 hours to notify their workers’ compensation insurer of the claim. Make sure to include detailed information about the accident.

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4. Seek Medical Care

Depending on how you fill out your Notice of Accident form, you or your employer may choose a healthcare provider for treatment.

Regardless of who chooses the doctor, it’s essential to receive treatment and follow the doctor’s treatment plan closely. If you deviate from or fail to receive care, your employer may use it to argue that your injuries aren’t that bad. 

How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?

In New Mexico, claimants have one year from the date of refusal of compensation to file a claim. The timeframe is entirely separate from the 15-day limitation for notifying the employer of the injury.

Once you notify your employer, you must give them and their insurer time to determine if they will compensate you for your injury. If they formally refuse to pay you, you have one year from that date to pursue a claim.

It’s important to note that this statute of limitations is incredibly strict. The law says that if you fail to file a claim within the one-year period, you are “forever barred” from any recovery.

In other words, it’s crucial to consult an experienced New Mexico oilfield injury attorney when injured on the job as soon as possible.

What Happens When You File a Workers’ Comp Claim?

After filing a workers’ comp claim, several things happen. First, your employer’s insurance company reviews your claim to determine eligibility for benefits. This review process involves examining medical records, employment records, and any other relevant information.

If they approve your claim, you may receive benefits, including medical treatment for your injuries, compensation for lost wages, and rehabilitation services if needed. The goal is to help you recover and return to work as soon as possible.

However, if they deny your claim, you can appeal the decision. The appeal process involves a hearing before a judge at the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration.

Given the potential complexities of this process, especially with oilfield injuries, we recommend speaking with an attorney.

Choose a Firm with a Record of Success in Oilfield Injury Cases

Don’t let the complexity of workers’ comp claims deter you from seeking the support you need. At Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C., we understand the intricacies of oilfield injury cases and are committed to advocating for your rights at every step.

With a strong track record and multiple industry recognitions, our New Mexico oilfield injury lawyers bring the fight on your behalf. 

Contact us today to schedule a free case review with our experienced legal team. Whether through a call or our online contact form, reaching out is the first step toward a smoother recovery.

Author Photo

Daisy Chaparro

Daisy Chaparro was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. A graduate from El Dorado High School in 2008 and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy from St. Mary’s University in 2012. Daisy then obtained her Juris Doctorate (magna cum laude) from Texas Tech University School of Law in 2015.

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