| Read Time: 5 minutes | Frequently Asked Questions

When is it time to hire a lawyer? New Mexico’s oilfields are hazardous work environments characterized by heavy machinery, high-pressure equipment, and volatile substances. The fast-paced nature of oilfield operations, coupled with the complexities of drilling and extraction processes, inherently increases your risk of accidents and injuries if you work in such an environment. 

From explosions and fires to falls and chemical exposures, oilfield workers face potential dangers daily. This is why it’s so important to understand your rights in the event of an on-the-job injury. 

In a field where safety protocols are paramount, awareness of your legal protections is crucial, including knowing when to hire a lawyer. 

Legal Options After an Oilfield Injury

Depending on the circumstances, an injured oilfield worker can recover compensation for their injuries through a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party suit. Knowing these details will help you determine when to hire a lawyer or not.

Workers’ Compensation

New Mexico’s workers’ compensation system covers work-related injuries and illnesses. When an employee is injured on the job, they must report the incident to their employer promptly, typically within 15 days.

Upon receiving notice of the injury, the employer must file a First Report of Injury with the state’s Workers’ Compensation Administration. Once the employer files the claim, the injured worker may receive medical treatment and rehabilitation services covered by workers’ compensation insurance. 

Additionally, if the injury results in temporary or permanent disability, the worker may be entitled to wage replacement benefits. Workers’ compensation is provided on a no-fault basis, meaning that the worker does not have to prove that the employer was negligent to receive benefits. 

Third-Party Suits & When to Hire a Lawyer

In some cases, workers injured in oilfield accidents may have the option to pursue lawsuits against third parties—i.e., parties other than their employer or co-workers—who may be responsible for their injuries. This is when you would speak to or possibly hire a lawyer. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, third-party lawsuits allow injured workers to seek compensation for non-economic losses that are not obtainable under workers’ compensation. This includes losses from pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life, to name only a few. 

To pursue a third-party lawsuit, you must establish that this party was negligent or engaged in wrongful conduct that directly caused your injury. This may involve proving that the third party failed to maintain safe working conditions, provided defective equipment, or violated industry regulations.

However, this option may not be open to everyone, so speak with a New Mexico oilfield accident attorney if you have any questions.

What to Do After Suffering an Oilfield Injury?

If you’ve been injured on the job as an oilfield worker, you need to know when to hire an accident attorney and how to protect your rights. So let’s discuss some steps to take after such an injury.

1. Report the Injury to Your Employer

Report any oilfield accident promptly to your employer, ideally as soon as it happens or as soon as you become aware of the injury. Reporting the accident promptly ensures that your employer is aware of the incident and can initiate the necessary procedures for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Failure to report the accident within the specified timeframe, typically within 15 days in New Mexico, may result in a delay or denial of workers’ compensation benefits. Any such delay could potentially affect your ability to receive the necessary medical treatment or compensation for treatment-related expenses.

Reporting the injury through proper procedures protects your right to compensation and provides vital evidence if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim down the road. 

2. Seek Medical Attention

Following an oilfield accident, seeking medical treatment should be a top priority. Even if your injuries appear minor at first, it’s essential to undergo a thorough medical evaluation to assess the extent of your injuries and receive appropriate care. Delaying or forgoing medical treatment can exacerbate injuries and prolong recovery time, potentially leading to long-term complications or disabilities.

But be careful when dealing with medical professionals hired by the insurance company, as they may not have your best interests in mind. If you have any doubts about this, get an independent medical evaluation for comparison.

3. Contact a New Mexico Oilfield Accident Attorney

After you take care of your health, it’s advisable to contact an experienced oilfield accident attorney, like the team at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C, as soon as possible. An attorney specializing in oilfield injury cases can provide valuable guidance and advocacy throughout the claims process, helping you to protect your rights and get the full compensation you deserve.

From gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies to representing you in hearings or at trial, an attorney can handle the legal complexities of your case. This allows you to have peace of mind as you focus on your recovery. Employers and their insurance companies don’t always have your best interests in mind, so don’t handle the claims or settlement process alone.

In short, you want to hire an accident attorney after reporting the injury to your employer and receiving medical attention.

Why Seeking Legal Help Is Important

Oilfield injuries can result in serious physical, emotional, and financial consequences for you and your family. Knowing why you should consider hiring a lawyer is crucial to protecting your rights and gives you the best chance at maximum compensation. 

Protecting Your Best Interests

As stated, insurance companies—including workers’ compensation insurance—do not always have your best interests in mind. In fact, they often have their bottom line in mind as a priority and won’t hesitate to offer you less than the real value of your injuries.

Legal Experience and Knowledge

An experienced lawyer knows how to work with workers’ compensation carriers to prove your case and get you the compensation you need. They can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and preserve crucial information to support your claim. They can assess the circumstances surrounding the accident, determine liability, and pursue maximum compensation through all avenues—workers’ compensation claims, third-party liability lawsuits, or settlements.  

Guidance, Support and Advocacy So You Can Focus on Healing

Additionally, the complexities of workers’ compensation claims and potential third-party liability issues further underscore the importance of seeking legal guidance. 

The right personal injury attorney has the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to navigate these complexities and advocate effectively on your behalf. Moreover, legal counsel can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the claims process, ensuring that injured workers understand their rights and options. This allows you to focus on your recovery while your attorney works to secure the justice and compensation you deserve. Don’t accept any settlements or sign any waivers before consulting with an attorney, and know that you have rights!

Trust Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C.

If you have suffered an on-the-job injury or illness as an oilfield worker in New Mexico, you don’t have to handle the aftermath alone. Give us a call to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out our online contact form to get started today.

Author Photo

James Tawney

James Tawney is a native of the Southwest dedicated to serving his community. He was born and raised in Arizona, where he attended Northern Arizona University and graduated summa cum laude.

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