Oil well or oilfield workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Working on an oilfield increases the risk of danger and potential for injury because of the dangerous and unpredictable materials involved.
An injured oilrig or oil field worker may suffer injuries ranging in severity from lacerations and broken bones to amputation, blindness, paralysis, brain damage, or even death.
With the Texas energy boom came a need for thousands of oil field workers, many lacking in training and experience. Too many workers are being seriously injured and killed. Because oil field accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, many injured workers will never be able to work again.
As skilled work accident attorneys, the lawyers of Liggett Law Group know how to investigate your claims, examine the evidence, and determine the best case to be made for damages. We will pursue every opportunity available to get you the compensation you need and deserve.
Types of Accidents & Injuries
The most devastating types of oilfield accidents are blowouts and explosions. A blowout is the uncontrolled release of crude oil and/or natural gas from an oil well or gas well after pressure control systems have failed. Explosions need no explanation.
Other types of accidents include:
- Falls from oil rigs
- Moving heavy piping
- Use of defective machinery
- Release of dangerous fumes
- Rig collapse
- Oil rig truck accidents
These accidents can, and often do, result in catastrophic injuries or death. Serious injuries that occur include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Head and face injuries
- Lung damage
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
- Wrongful death
Sometimes a drilling accident is unpreventable. But frequently, Texas oilfield accidents are caused by the negligence of others. When this is the case, the negligent parties should be responsible for the damages they’ve caused. This can be done through a personal injury lawsuit.
How Is Liability Determined in Oilfield Accident Claims?
Liability or fault must be shown in order for an injured oilfield worker to recover monetary damages from the negligent person or parties. Your attorney must show the defendant’s conduct failed to meet a reasonable standard of care. That standard of care is called the reasonably prudent man standard. It refers to the degree of care that the average person would use in a given situation.
If a reasonably prudent person would not have done something that the defendant did, or if the defendant did not do something a reasonably prudent person would have done, then negligence has been shown.
Specifically with an oilfield accident case, there could be several different liable parties. Potential defendants include an employer, a co-worker or third parties such as a faulty equipment provider or the owner of the oilfield.
If you were injured in the course of your employment, you may also have a claim for Workers Compensation benefits without regard to whether or not someone was negligent. In Texas, employers are not required to carry Workers Compensation insurance, however many do.
However, workers Compensation benefits are limited. Benefits are made to compensate you for your unpaid medical bills, for the time you were temporarily disabled and for when you are permanently partially disabled.
If you were injured due to a defect in a product used at an oilfield, the manufacturer of the defective product is subject to liability under the Texas Product Liability statute. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Title 4, Chapter 82, sections 82.001 to 82.008.
A product liability claim means any claim against a manufacturer or seller for recovery of damages arising out of personal injury or death, caused by a defective product.
What Damages Can I Recover?
As the victim of an oilfield injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the following:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and Suffering
Some of these damages are easier to calculate than others. Medical bills can be added together, lost earnings calculated by how much you make an hour and how many hours of work you’ve missed. Pain and suffering is often more subjective. However,the recovery value of pain and suffering can be calculated based on the extent and expense of your medical treatment.
What Damages I Recover If My Loved One Died While Working In An Oilfield?
If your loved one dies in an oilfield accident due to another person’s negligence, his spouse, children and parents would be entitled to a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.
In a wrongful death claim, damages are recoverable for the deceased’s pain and suffering and medical expenses from the time of the accident to the time of his death. Lost wages and funeral and burial expenses are also recoverable.
The surviving spouse can recover damages for loss of companionship and for the emotional trauma experienced. Surviving minor children can recover damages for loss of comfort and support. Surviving parents may also be able to recover damages.
Depending on the circumstances, courts can also award exemplary damages, or punitive damages, to surviving family members. Punitive damages can be awarded where the defendant engaged in a particularly reckless or egregious type of conduct resulting in the death and are designed to punish the defendant and to deter similar behavior in the future.
What If You Are Injured While Working As An Independent Contractor?
An independent contractor is a person or company who works at a site and provides goods or services to someone else who is specified in a contract or a verbal agreement.
If you were an Independent Contractor when the accident occurred and you decide to bring a claim for your injury against someone other than your employer — for instance, the owner of the oilfield, one of the owner’s employees, or a manufacturer of a defective product — their liability would still need to be shown for you to recover.
You will also be required to prove your damages.
What Steps Should I Take If I’ve Been Injured?
If you have been injured, get immediate medical help. Sometimes medical assistance will be provided without your asking for it. You may be unconscious and have to be taken in an ambulance to a hospital.
On your release from the hospital you will always be given discharge papers. Do whatever you are told to do in your discharge papers. For example, you may be told to take certain medications. You may also be instructed to follow up with your doctor or to undergo physical therapy. It is important that you do all that the medical specialists tell you to do. You will be responsible for getting all the necessary medical care and treatment you require.
Once you have recovered sufficiently to do so, contact an attorney. The sooner you have an attorney, the sooner your attorney can start to work on your behalf. There will be multiple things that will need to be done following the accident that an oilfield accident lawyer help you with, including gathering any and all reports concerning the accident. This includes all medical records, and all reports of the accident and how it happened.
How Can An Attorney Help
A personal injury attorney who is experienced in oilfield accident claims can help throughout the entire process of an accident claim.
Your lawyer should investigate the accident, gather all the necessary reports, identify all the potential defendants, contact all potential defendants and their insurance companies, bring your claim and file your case in court, take depositions (recorded interviews) of the defendant and his or her potential witnesses, send interrogatories (written questions) to the defendant, request the production of documents from the defendant, request admissions from the defendant, retain expert witnesses, negotiate as appropriate, take your case to trial as necessary, secure the highest monetary recovery possible, and, most importantly, keep you informed of the progress of your claim.
Your attorney may need to hire expert witnesses such a medical professional who will be able to write a report concerning your injuries, your treatment, and the likelihood of your needing further medical care in the future. Your medical expert may also need to report on the permanency of your injuries. An expert oilfield accident reconstructionist may be needed to give a report on how the accident happened and what steps should have been taken to prevent it.
An attorney will also act as your representative when it comes to dealing with the insurance company or companies whose policies provide coverage for the accident and with the insurance companies’ attorneys hired to defend against your case.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Oilfield Accident Lawyer
The Texas oil well injury lawyers at Liggett Law Group work on a contingency basis. This means that the client does not pay anything until and unless there is a favorable recovery on your behalf. When the case is successful, our fees are paid out of the recovery.
I was offered a settlement. How do I know if it’s fair?
It’s not uncommon for the liable party or their insurance company to offer a settlement in order to end the issue quickly and cheaply. It’s important that you first remember insurance companies are not charitable organizations. They are businesses. Their job is to improve their bottom lines.
If the insurer is a stock company, it must answer to its shareholders. If the insurer is a mutual company, the insurer must answer to its policyholders. Insurance companies are experienced at handling accident claims, so you need someone who is equally experienced to deal with them on your behalf. This is where your personal injury attorney comes in.
When a settlement offer is made, your attorney will evaluate the value of all of your damages in comparison to the settlement offer. Your legal representative should also review how much has been awarded in cases similar to yours. Similar cases in the court where your case is pending are preferable because they are the most likely to reflect what a jury will award in your case. It is also important to find out what an insurer’s limit of liability is. In an insurance policy, the insurance company sets the maximum amount it will pay — this is the limit of their liability.
The decision to accept or reject an offer from an insurance company is yours to make with the help of an experienced attorney. If the offer is not reasonable and negotiations aren’t fruitful, it may become necessary to take the case to trial.
Get Help From A Lubbock Work Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been left seriously injured while working in the oil industry, the Lubbock oilfield injury lawyers at Liggett Law Group can give you the representation you deserve. Contact our firm online or call our toll free number (855) 955-HURT (4878) today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced trial attorney.