Oilfield work requires physical skills and quick thinking. Your safety is reliant on maintaining a cool head in sometimes stressful circumstances. It can be a dangerous job. Oil companies often value speed over safety, creating an environment ripe for workplace accidents. If you have been involved in an Arlington oilfield accident, you might benefit from discussing your accident with a lawyer.
Common Injuries Experienced on Oilfields
Oilfields in Texas employ more than 100,000 workers. Although common accidents may happen more frequently, they all contribute to the overall workplace safety record. Some of the typical injuries in oilfield accidents include:
- Burns: Oil and the chemicals used in processing it are highly flammable. One spark can create a catastrophic chain reaction, fire, and explosions.
- Cancers: Prolonged exposure to chemicals used in oil processing can create a greater risk of several types of cancer.
- Chronic respiratory illness: Breathing the fumes from chemicals and raw crude oil without proper respiratory protection can create chronic breathing conditions.
- Head injuries: Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result from falling objects striking workers on the head or from workers falling and hitting their heads. TBIs can create chronic and life-changing problems.
- Amputated limbs: Losing a limb in an oilfield accident can be traumatic but also creates additional hardship, including permanent disability and mental trauma.
- Broken bones: Broken bones can happen from falls, trip hazards, falling objects, or any other workplace mishaps. They can range from broken toes and fingers to more severe breaks, including spinal cord injuries.
- Spinal injuries: Spinal cord injuries can cause partial or complete paralysis, nerve damage, chronic pain, and permanent disability.
- Mental trauma: Any injury that causes changes to your way of life or your ability to do your job can also contribute to mental trauma.
Many oilfield accidents can cause temporary or permanent disability. The severity of injuries increases with decreasing job site safety measures.
Causes and Types of Oilfield Accidents
Failure to comply with safety regulations is a significant contributor to oilfield accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains standards for safety and procedural protocols for oilfields. OSHA standards include proper safety apparel and equipment to keep personnel safer. While OSHA standards don’t prevent all accidents, they help lessen the damage and injury to workers.
Common Accidents That Occur on Oilfields
Fires and explosions: Sparks from welding can ignite flammable liquids or gases. Once ignited, fires can quickly spread out of hand, leading to explosions if the flames reach storage facilities, pipelines, or other structures used for storing or transporting flammable materials.
Well blowouts: When the pressure control system on a well fails, a well blowout can occur. This can release the well’s oil, gas, or other processing debris. Well blowouts can also lead to fires and explosions.
Equipment failure: Equipment failure can cause spills or impact from fractured parts.
Vehicle accidents: Accidents involving vehicles and heavy equipment account for many oilfield accidents. These can include personnel falling off equipment, being struck by equipment, or being caught between equipment.
Slip and fall hazards: Oilfield work includes platforms and high equipment that employees can fall from. The severity of these accidents can vary depending on the height of the equipment.
Exposure to toxic chemicals: Toxic chemicals pose hazards from inhalation and direct contact with skin. Workers can be exposed inside storage tanks, in the pits, and while working on the wells.
Physical injury hazards: Heavy lifting, bending, twisting, and pulling heavy loads can cause bodily injuries, including strains, sprains, muscle tears, tendon and ligament damage, and nerve damage.
Decreasing Oilfield Accidents
Training is one area that can create a safer work environment for everyone in an oilfield. Inadequate training is a leading cause of job site accidents. It is essential to have a training program for new employees and to ensure that refresher training is available to seasoned personnel.
Compliance with industry regulations, OSHA standards, and state regulatory agencies will keep oilfields safer. Job sites will be safer when training and proper safety protocols are maintained.
Oilfield Accident Fatalities
As of this writing, OSHA has listed 22 fatalities in Texas oilfields in 2022. The breakdown includes the following:
- Nine falls from equipment, scaffolding, or rigging
- Three electrocutions
- One asphyxiation
- Three deaths from self-inflicted causes (1 GSW, one drug OD, one unspecified suicide)
- Four vehicle-related fatalities
- One crush fatality
- One gunshot wound occurred during a robbery
- Two deaths from falling debris (struck in the head with pipes)
Suppose you lost a loved one in an oilfield fatality. In that case, it may benefit you to speak with an Arlington oilfield accident lawyer to determine your options.
What If You’re Hurt in an Oilfield Accident?
If you are injured while working at an oilfield site, you may have options to receive compensation for your injuries. You can do things after an accident that will help you make a stronger claim. An Arlington oilfield accident attorney can help compile the documentation you will need to file a lawsuit or make a claim against an employer.
Seek Medical Attention
The first thing to do after any accident is to seek medical attention. If you have a clinic on the job site, start there. For more severe accidents, it is wise to use ambulance transportation to the nearest hospital.
After receiving emergency medical attention:
- Follow all after-care instructions for your continued healing and treatment.
- Make it to medical appointments on time.
- Attend occupational or physical therapy as prescribed.
If you have problems with the diagnosis and treatment offered by your physician, please discuss the matter with the personal injury team. This includes when you feel your diagnosis is incorrect or the treatment is not helping.
Photograph the Scene
Most people carry cell phones. That means we have the immediate means to take pictures after an accident. You should take as many images as possible after an oilfield accident. If your injuries are too severe, ask a co-worker to take some pictures for you.
Photographs allow investigators to see the scene exactly as it was when the accident occurred. Accidents happen quickly. Photos can help you remember details you may have forgotten in the aftermath.
Use caution when collecting photographs. If an area is hazardous, evacuate it for your safety.
Notify Your Employer
You should tell your job site supervisor about your accident immediately. Once notified, they have specific responsibilities to report further up the chain. However, you still have to follow up on accident reports to ensure that the proper notifications are filed with your employer. Your human resources department should be able to assist you in ensuring that the correct reports are filed.
Suppose you need additional assistance, or your employer is not helping report your accident. In that case, you can get help from our oilfield accident team. Our team can help you follow up on reports and ensure all state and OSHA regulations for reporting are met.
Seek Legal Counsel
Requesting legal counsel does not mean you have to file a lawsuit. Asking a lawyer for help is a wise choice for many reasons, including:
- They work with and understand the law
- They routinely work with injuries, doctors, and follow-up care
- They understand the filing requirement for OSHA and state regulations
- They know the requirements for conducting investigations and presenting evidence
Selecting a law firm to represent you or your family is a big step. We encourage you to conduct due diligence before hiring an attorney. What that means is:
- Research several firms. Check their websites and their track record. Read reviews online. Ask for a list of clients with similar cases to yours and talk with them. Ask your friends and family if they have any experience with a lawyer they might recommend.
- Most firms offer free consultations. Use them to speak with more than one firm. This process allows you to get a feel for an attorney and how they will handle your case. Find one that you are comfortable with.
- Ask as many questions as possible. It is helpful to keep a list of questions handy during your free consultations. This will help keep your discussion on track and ensure you don’t forget the essential questions.
- Concentrate on law firms with experience with oilfield accidents. When researching, find out how many similar cases they have won for clients.
Our Arlington oilfield accident injury team is confident that we can provide you with the service you expect from a law firm.
Options When Your Injuries Are the Fault of a Third Party
Workers’ compensation insurance will sometimes cover some of your medical costs. Unfortunately, the offered coverage is often less than adequate and leaves many of your legitimate bills unpaid. Once you accept workers’ compensation, your ability to bring a civil suit against your employer is limited.
Suppose your accident was the fault of a third party. In that case, you can seek compensation from that entity to cover medical costs, lost wages, and additional economic and non-economic damages. A third party can be an equipment manufacturer, maintenance personnel, or even delivery personnel negligently operating a vehicle. An Arlington oilfield accident lawyer can explain all your options and file a lawsuit against negligent parties for you.
What Compensation Can an Oilfield Worker Receive?
Compensation in any injury case falls into two main categories – economic and non-economic damages. Economic compensation reimburses actual costs and losses directly related to the accident and injuries. Non-economic compensation covers non-tangible areas that can be devastating but have no direct monetary correlation.
Compensation under this banner includes actual costs, expenses, and lost wages that you would not have experienced without the accident and injuries. Some of the compensation areas include:
- Medical costs
- Emergency room treatment
- Ambulance transportation
- Medical equipment
- Home nursing care
- Home modification
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Follow-up medical care
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
Economic damages are documented with medical bills, wage statements, and doctor’s statements of your prognosis, including necessary future treatment.
Injuries that create significant changes in your life can affect more than your financial stability. For that reason, non-economic compensation attempts to bridge the gap left when an accident changes your life. No monetary amount can make mental anguish disappear, but having the financial means to cope with changes can help. Some areas of compensation that you may receive under this category include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Treating the side effects from injury treatment
- Changing jobs if you can’t perform your previous job
- Change to your relationship status/loss of consortium
- Loss of independence
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disability
Wrongful Death Compensation
Please allow us to express condolences for your loss if your loved one was taken from you due to negligence in an oilfield accident. Your family might be able to collect compensation for the loss of wages, help recover funeral expenses, and to cover final medical expenditures for life-saving measures.
Money can never replace your family member. However, their death should not put an undue burden on the remaining family members. An Arlington oilfield accident lawyer can explain how filing a wrongful death lawsuit may help your family financially after losing their means of financial support.
How Much Is Your Case Worth?
Determining how much your case might be worth will be a part of the case evaluation. Several factors go into determining compensation, including:
- The seriousness of your injuries – The more severe an injury is and the more it impacts your life and family, the higher the value of your claim.
- How many injuries you have – One broken arm is less severe than two broken legs and a dislocated shoulder. Your injuries will be evaluated, and medical costs will be considered when determining how much compensation you should receive.
- Your wages at the time of the accident – The higher your wages, the higher your potential for lost earning capacity.
- The cost of your medical treatment – You should be able to claim all medical expenses from an oilfield accident-related injury.
Our oilfield accident team will examine your financial losses and project your future losses and expenses to arrive at a fair compensation level.
How an Arlington Oilfield Accident Lawyer Can Help
All oilfields are required to operate safe workplaces. State agencies and OSHA regulate safety. The overall purpose of safety guidelines is to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop all workplace hazards. Suppose you have been injured in an oilfield accident. In that case, our personal injury team believes you should seek compensation for injuries.
Our team understands your needs in injury cases. In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 14.5 percent of oil and gas workers were Hispanic or Latino. Our team offers Spanish-language assistance to ensure we can help all workers equally.
We explain the process to you in a way that you will understand. Legal issues and injury claims can be pretty complex. We can translate the laws, and how they apply, into plain language so you will fully understand your options. We provide our clients with regular updates on the status of their claims. We notify you when decisions are needed, court dates change, or when important meetings are scheduled.
Investigating the Accident
One of the essential functions of our oilfield accident team is conducting a thorough investigation of the circumstances of your accident. Our team will need to determine the facts about your accident to proceed with pursuing compensation.
Some of the areas we will look into include the following:
- That you were lawfully on the premises when the accident occurred
- That your injuries were the result of another party’s negligence or faulty equipment
- That your claim meets the four elements that determine negligence
- That your injuries have caused you financial loss
Our team will evaluate the circumstances that lead to your accident.
Reviewing OSHA Compliance
While our oilfield accident team is investigating your accident, they will verify compliance with OSHA regulations, which may include reviewing the following:
- Pathways and walkways where workers travel around the site
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) required during the performance of the job
- Types and conditions of machinery used on the job
- Condition of electrical equipment, including supplied voltage and fire protection
- Other safety measures as necessary per OSHA regulations
All OSHA violations should be reported immediately using the online reporting system. When you file a report with OSHA, your employer will be required to correct the deficiencies to make your workplace safer.
Reviewing Compliance With State Regulations
In addition to OSHA compliance, oilfield management must comply with state regulatory agencies. Chapter 3 of the Texas Administrative Code provides specific guidance and instruction. Our oilfield accident team will ensure that oilfield management complies with all required regulations during our investigation of your accident.
Witness Interviews, Documentation, and Submitting Your Demand Letter
To provide you with the strongest case possible, our oilfield accident team will use many tools to compile your claim, including:
- Witness interviews
- Documentation of your injuries
- Documentation of your medical expenses
- Medical reports from your doctor about your prognosis
- Estimates of futures costs based on ongoing treatment for your injuries
- Collecting evidence about the work site
- Investigating how the accident happened
- Establishing the four elements of negligence as they apply to your claim
Our team will use every tool at their disposal to strengthen your claim. Although many claims settle, our team prepares your case as if we expect it to go to court. This way, we are ready for all potentialities.
Filing a Lawsuit
When you contact a lawyer after an accident, they will assess your options for compensation. They will evaluate whether your employer has workers’ compensation insurance or if you need to file a lawsuit to get your medical expenses covered. When you need help covering medical costs, a case may be your most effective option.
Our oilfield accident team will determine if your employer was negligent or perhaps an equipment manufacturer failed to recall defective equipment. If your accident resulted from negligence, you deserve compensation, and our team will fight for you.
Negotiate for a Settlement
In most personal injury cases, a settlement is reached before a lawsuit goes to court. The defendant or their representative agrees to make a payment to you based on your letter of demand. When they make an offer to your lawyer, you will have the option to accept it or decline it. As your representative, we will provide advice and guidance, but the final decision is yours. We are prepared to continue representing you in court if you decline their offer.
Understanding Liability in an Oilfield Accident
It is difficult to sue your employer in Texas unless you prove they were negligent. To prove negligence, you must establish that the four elements of negligence apply:
- Duty of Care
- Breach of Duty
The duty of care involves your employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment. Suppose they know that a piece of equipment needs repair, but they order you to continue using it. Knowingly permitting the use of defective equipment creates a breach of duty, meaning they were aware of the problem. If using the equipment creates the circumstance that causes you to be injured, that fulfills the causation element. Damages define injuries caused by negligent actions of your employer.
Domingo Garcia Is Ready To Help You
The oilfields provide employment opportunities for many Texans. However, if your employer has been negligent, you deserve compensation for the injuries that occurred due to their actions. If you need legal counsel following an oilfield accident that injured you, the Arlington oilfield accident lawyers at Domingo Garcia are ready to discuss your case.
Our team offers a free consultation so you can explain your situation. We will listen, assess your case, and offer advice on the next steps you can take. We will fight for your rights and hold the liable parties accountable. Contact us today.