Texas oil field workers play a key role in the US economy, yet these workers put themselves at risk each day. Working in the oil industry is dangerous. In 2017, 69 oil and gas workers were killed on the job, and 44 of those deaths occurred in Texas. Oil and gas workers also suffered nearly 700 nonfatal injuries in 2018.
Oil fields may be particularly dangerous due to a lack of safety inspections and compliance. A Houston Chronicle investigation found these disturbing trends on Texas oil fields:
- The federal government focused on improving offshore oil worker safety after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill but has failed to address onshore oil worker safety adequately;
- OSHA is only required to investigate onshore accidents that kill workers or hospitalize three or more workers; and
- When OSHA investigated, they found violations in 78 percent of Texas oil rig accidents.
If you suffered an oil field injury, you deserve compensation. While it may seem stressful to sue your employer, filing a personal injury lawsuit could accomplish several things. First, a personal injury settlement can provide for you and your family while you recover from your injuries.
Compensation can help you pay medical bills to get the treatment you need. Also, a lawsuit can hold your employer accountable for dangerous practices that caused your injury. This might lead your employer to make things safer for employees, preventing other oil field workers from getting hurt or killed.
Suing an employer over an oil field injury can be a complicated process, but this guide should help you get a basic overview. Keep reading for answers on these oil field accident topics:
- How Can You Get Compensation After an Injury?
- What Types of Injuries Can I Get Compensation For?
- Can I Get Compensation for a Loved One Killed in an Oil Field Accident?
- How Do I Choose the Right Oil Field Injury Attorney?
If you would like to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney about an oil field accident, give Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C., a call. Our law firm fights insurance companies to get injured victims the compensation they deserve, and we would like to help you.
How Can You Get Compensation After an Injury?
When you suffer an oil field accident, it could have been caused by several factors. Your employer could have intentionally caused your injury, though most oil field injuries are not intentional. However, many oil field injuries are caused by employer negligence. This means that an employer did not provide a safe work environment for you.
First, you will determine whether your workplace injury is eligible for workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit. In Texas, employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you can file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation offers benefits even if the accident was your fault. However, compensation is limited to economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages for a specified time period. Workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering.
If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you can sue. Even if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, there are a few situations in which you can sue for damages in addition to workers’ compensation benefits:
- You can sue a third party, such as a manufacturer, over a defective product;
- You can sue a third party (but not an employer or co-worker) for negligence;
- You can sue if your employer intentionally harmed you; or
- You can sue if your employer used a toxic or illegal substance.
Personal injury claims are fault-based, meaning you have to prove that your employer was responsible for your injury. To sue your employer for negligence, you have to prove four elements.
Duty of care
Your employer owed you a duty of care. This means that your employer had an obligation to provide a safe work environment.
Breach of duty
Your employer breached this duty by allowing dangerous conditions in your work environment. Oil field injuries often result from these accidents:
- Oil rig explosions,
- Electrical fires,
- Machine malfunction,
- Inexperienced workers mishandling equipment,
- Falling equipment, and
- Slippery or unstable rig surfaces.
While some circumstances are beyond your employer’s control, an employer must act responsibly to protect workers. If a dangerous condition was present at your job site, your employer may have breached a duty of care.
Your employer’s breach of duty caused you to suffer an injury. If you were injured at home or while playing sports, this doesn’t qualify for a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. You must have been injured on the job due to your employer’s negligence.
Many oil field accidents cause significant damages, meaning injuries that can be compensated by the court. However, if you suffered a minor bruise or scrape, this injury might not be substantial enough for a lawsuit.
If you’re confused about meeting these elements of negligence, a personal injury attorney can evaluate your case. Your attorney will let you know if you have adequate negligence evidence to pursue a personal injury case.
What Types of Injuries Can I Get Compensation For?
Oil field accidents can cause serious injuries or death. These injuries can impact a worker and the worker’s family for years after the accident. Due to the substantial impact of oil field injuries, your employer may owe you a significant personal injury settlement.
If you have suffered any of these injuries, you may be able to receive personal injury compensation:
- Burns from an equipment fire or well explosion,
- Traumatic brain injury or concussion from falling equipment,
- Spinal cord injury or paralysis after falling off a rig,
- Broken bones due to malfunctioning equipment,
- Amputated limbs due to being crushed by equipment, or
- Torn tendons and ligaments from slippery surfaces.
Your employer should pay your medical bills and rehabilitation costs related to these injuries. However, you can sue your employer for more than just medical expenses. A personal injury lawsuit generally involves two types of damages.
Medical bills fall into this category. However, economic damages also include things like lost income and loss of future earning ability. If you can easily calculate the cost of an expense related to your accident, it’s likely economic damage.
Non-economic damages include emotional damages like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment. These damages are challenging to calculate, but they can have a significant impact on your life. Therefore, non-economic damages are an important part of your compensation.
A personal injury lawyer can help you calculate all damages to formulate an appropriate settlement request. Keep all medical receipts and invoices for other expenses to have proof of damages.
Can I Get Compensation for a Loved One Killed in an Oil Field Accident?
Yes, you can sue over the wrongful death of your loved one if an intentional or negligent action caused the oil field accident. Texas law says that wrongful death is a death caused by someone’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”
If another employee caused your loved one’s death, the employer may still be responsible for the death since the employee was acting as an agent of the company.
The surviving spouse, children, or parents of a worker killed on an oil field may bring a wrongful death action against the employer. If these relatives have not initiated a wrongful death lawsuit within three months of their loved one’s death, the executor of the estate may file a wrongful death suit.
You must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death. After that time, the statute of limitations will bar your claim and a court will dismiss your case. To comply with the statute of limitations, call a personal injury attorney to discuss your case as soon as possible.
How Do I Choose the Right Oil Field Injury Attorney?
When you file an oil field injury lawsuit, you want an attorney experienced in this complicated type of litigation. Oil field injuries can be challenging for a lawyer who practices in an area like family law or bankruptcy law. An attorney who handles lots of oil field injury cases knows the business and how to negotiate with oil company insurance attorneys.
To find a good oil field injury attorney, you should ask for recommendations. Lots of oil field workers are injured each year, so you may know someone who can recommend an attorney. Research online to find other oil field attorneys, and compare reviews.
Once you’ve narrowed a list of potential attorneys, call to set up consultations. A consultation gives you a chance to explain your case to the attorney and get the attorney’s opinion on your legal options. You should also ask questions to determine if the attorney is a good fit for your case. Here are some things you should find out:
- How often do you represent oil field injury victims?
- What is your average settlement for oil field injury victims?
- Do you require an upfront payment or work on contingency?
- What is your contingency fee?
- How long do you think my case will take to settle?
- How often should I expect to hear from you?
Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation. Take advantage of this opportunity to determine if you trust the attorney with your case. While asking careful questions is important, you should also trust your instincts in evaluating a potential attorney. When you feel comfortable with an attorney, sign a contract for their representation, and get started on your case.
Get Help with Your Oil Field Injury Case
Have you been injured or had a loved one killed in an oil field accident? You deserve compensation if your employer’s negligence caused the accident. The oil field injury attorneys at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. can help you evaluate whether you have a personal injury case against your employer.
We’ll also assess any potential legal actions against the manufacturers of oil field equipment or other third parties. Then, we will work to get you the injury compensation you deserve.
Before you contact us, you’ll want to know a few things about our law firm:
- We offer aggressive, compassionate legal representation for injured workers;
- We are licensed in Texas and New Mexico, with offices in both states;
- We are skilled negotiators, resolving most cases through settlement, but we don’t hesitate to go to trial if necessary; and
- We seek maximum personal injury compensation for injured or killed oil field workers.
If you were injured in an oil field accident, call us for a free consultation. We’ll listen to your experience, explain your legal options, and answer your questions. We’ll help hold the oil company responsible for the harm they caused you. Contact us for a free consultation today.