A Fort Worth oil rig accident lawyer could help you seek the compensation you deserve if you got injured or your loved one died from injuries on an oil rig in the Fort Worth, Texas area.
The gas and oil industry is essential to our state and national economy; however, this line of work is dangerous. Oil rigs in particular are known to cause severe injuries that can be life-changing. Whether the accident was an explosion, chemical burn, or fall from height, a worker can suffer devastating wounds.
OSHA Regulations That Can Apply to Oil Rigs
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has general safety regulations and targeted oil and gas industry guidelines. Under the “General Duty Clause of the OSH Act,” federal law “requires employers to provide workers with a safe workplace that does not have any recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious injury.”
Many of OSHA’s general industry standards apply to oil rigs, such as rules for:
- Fall protection
- Falling object protection
- Exit routes
- Fire prevention plans
- Emergency action plans
- Powered platforms
When a worker gets injured because of an OSHA violation, their employer may be liable for the worker’s injuries and may have to pay fines and penalties from OSHA.
CDC Safety Guidelines for Oil Rigs
Plenty of tools and checklists are available for oil rig owners to keep these workplaces safe. The Workplace Safety and Health Department of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) created Rig Check.
Rig Check is a collection of 35 inspection forms that oil rig workers can use to document when the tools and equipment on the oil rig are inspected and the results of those inspections. If used regularly, the inspections could uncover maintenance issues, wear and tear, and other problems before they cause safety or health issues.
The CDC suggests monthly inspections of gas and oil rigs.
Types of Injuries from Accidents on Oil Rigs
There are many possible ways to get injured while working on an oil rig. For example:
- Oil rig platforms and the structures on them are quite tall. If a worker falls, they can suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord damage, or broken bones.
- A fire on an oil rig can cause catastrophic burn injuries, particularly if a worker gets trapped, since escaping an oil rig is a feat not easily accomplished.
- Caustic chemicals on oil rigs can inflict severe burn injuries.
- Paralysis can result if a worker gets struck by a large, moving object on an oil rig.
- An explosion on an oil rig can cause devastating burns, penetrating and blunt trauma, or blast lung.
- A worker who falls off of an oil rig could drown if the land in the water or suffer injuries from crashing against the support structure.
Wrongful Death Oil Rig Accident Claims
Workers are killed on the job every year in the oil industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil and gas extraction industries have more fatal occupational injuries than all other mining jobs combined.
The categories of recoverable money damages we discussed earlier apply to cases in which the worker survives their injuries. However, when an oil rig accident results in loss of life, the decedent’s legal beneficiaries could be eligible for additional compensation.
Some of the compensation categories in a wrongful death claim or lawsuit focus on the deceased person’s expenses, like their medical bills from the accident, their end-of-life costs, and their pain and suffering. The funeral and burial expenses of the decedent can also be part of a wrongful death claim.
Additionally, the decedent’s legal beneficiaries can seek money damages for the losses they suffered as a result of their loved one’s untimely death, like:
- The financial support from their deceased loved one
- The services the decedent contributed to the household
- The guidance and companionship of the relative who died
- The survivors’ grief and emotional pain
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 71 determines who is eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim. You should discuss this with your Fort Worth oil rig injury attorney to determine if you qualify to pursue wrongful death action on behalf of your loved one.
Types of Damages an Injured Oil Rig Worker May Recover
When workers get injured on an oil rig, they suffer many financial and non-financial consequences. Depending on the unique circumstances of your injury claim, your Fort Worth oil rig accident lawyer may help you pursue money damages for economic and non-economic damages, such as:
Usually, an injured person can recover the reasonable cost of necessary medical treatment for their injuries. This category can include bills from the medical flight back to shore, the ambulance, the emergency room or trauma center, the doctors, and the hospital.
Additional customary expenses can include diagnostic procedures, surgery, physical therapy, and prescription drugs.
If you did not get paid for some or all of the time that you could not work because of your injuries, you may be reimbursed for your lost wages or salary.
Decreased Earning Capacity
You might have to take a lower-paying position because you cannot perform all of the tasks required for your previous work due to your injuries. Also, chronic pain, weakness, or decreased range of motion can force you to work a different job or decrease your hours.
Pain and Suffering
This is a non-economic damage, meaning it doesn’t have obvious financial value. Pain and suffering damages are designed to compensate you for the physical discomfort, inconvenience, and emotional stress of the oil rig accident or your injuries.
Decreased Quality of Life
If you suffered catastrophic wounds in an oil rig fire, explosion, fall, or other accident, you may never be able to do certain things again because of a permanent impairment. Being unable to perform tasks or hobbies you used to enjoy can lower your quality of life.
Oil rig accidents often involve fires, caustic chemicals, and explosions. These things can leave permanent scars that cause disfigurement.
Loss of Independence
If you can no longer take care of yourself to the same extent as before the accident, you will have to rely on others for assistance. Losing your independence can be a crushing blow psychologically, and you deserve to be compensated.
A person who suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord damage, or some other life-altering wound in an oil rig accident might not be able to work again and support themselves financially. If this happened to you, you may be eligible for disability damages.
Severe oil rig injuries can lead to required injury-specific equipment like a lift apparatus to get in and out of bed, a modified vehicle for transportation, a wheelchair, and modifications to make their home accessible.
Steps to Take After Getting Hurt on an Oil Rig
Here are a few suggestions of things you might want to do to protect your right to compensation after an oil rig accident.
Seek Medical Treatment
Getting prompt medical attention is usually the best way to achieve maximum healing of your wounds. Also, your Fort Worth oil rig accident lawyer will use your medical records to connect your injury to the oil rig accident. Your medical file will provide additional useful information, like your injuries’ severity and the doctor’s opinion of your prognosis.
Be sure to complete the medical treatment your doctor prescribes. If you skip some of the steps, like physical therapy, the defendant could argue that they should pay you less money. The at-fault party might say you could have recovered faster and more completely if you had done all your doctor ordered.
Document the Accident Scene
Your employer may quickly clean up the dangerous condition that led to the accident. This response is understandable, as the area could be hazardous to other people. However, the problem is that the site will look pristine after it gets cleaned up, leaving no evidence of the dangerous condition that led to your injury.
You do not need professional-quality photographs of the accident site. However, if you can, snap a few photos or take a short video of the area on your cell phone. Alternatively, you could ask a coworker to capture some pictures for you. It can also be helpful to get the names of coworkers and other people who might have valuable eyewitness testimony.
Notify Your Employer
Inform your boss of your injury as soon as possible. It will be more difficult for them to deny that the accident happened on the oil rig if you give them immediate notice. If they ask you to fill out a form to report the incident, be sure to keep a copy.
Consider Hiring a Fort Worth Oil Rig Accident Lawyer
If you work with a Fort Worth oil rig accident injury attorney from the beginning, we can guide you through some of the common hiccups of these situations.
The last thing you need to deal with while trying to get better is the stress of an injury claim against your employer, an equipment manufacturer, or some other company that worked on the oil rig and caused your injury. When you become our client, you get to rest and recuperate from your injuries while we take care of your legal claim or lawsuit.
An Overview of the Jones Act and Maritime Law
The Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104) allows workers who meet the definition of “seamen” to sue their employer if they get hurt on the job. Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman can seek personal injury damages instead of worker’s compensation benefits.
The Jones Act places a duty on employers to provide a safe workplace and maintain the vessel. If your employer fails to satisfy either of these standards, that failure may be negligence. If you got hurt because of your employer’s negligence, the Jones Act could provide an opportunity to get financial relief.
In addition to applying only to “seamen,” the Jones Act only covers those who spend a significant portion of their working hours on a “vessel.” However, you do not have to be a full-time worker to qualify under the Jones Act; some part-time laborers can meet the definition of “seaman.”
Vessels and Platform Rigs
One of the questions you may have in your oil rig injury claim is whether an oil rig is considered a vessel. There are different regulations for offshore drilling platforms that are considered vessels and those that are not. While you should ask your Fort Worth oil rig accident lawyer about the specific circumstances in your case, generally, any mobile oil rig may be considered a vessel.
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) says that offshore oil rigs contain many of the features found on land rigs. Offshore rigs also typically include cranes, risers, living quarters for the workers, and a heliport. Living quarters can include office space, bedrooms, an infirmary, a dining hall, and recreation space. AAPG also explains the different types of offshore rigs:
- Barge rigs are used in shallow water with a depth of no more than 20 feet. The lower hull of the structure sits on the bottom of the ocean.
- Submersible rigs are barge rigs that can be used in water up to 50 feet deep. They can work in deeper water because they have pontoons or extensions that lift the upper hull higher than the water level.
- Platforms are permanently attached to the seafloor.
- Jackups look somewhat like platform rigs but are not permanently attached to the bottom of the ocean.
- Floaters, like semisubmersibles and drill ships, are offshore rigs that do not rest on the bottom of the ocean and are not attached to it. They stay in place with anchors or other devices.
Your Fort Worth oil rig injury attorney can evaluate whether the oil rig where the accident occurred is considered a vessel and therefore subject to the Jones Act.
What Is a Fair Settlement Amount for Your Oil Rig Injury Claim?
As we have discussed, every personal injury claim is different. There is no flat-rate amount for settlements in these cases. Your Fort Worth oil rig injury lawyer will look to factors like these to evaluate the financial value of your case:
Your Medical Bills
A person with $200,000 in medical expenses will usually receive a higher settlement amount than a person with only $10,000 in medical bills.
Being unable to work often means missing paychecks, which can subject an injured person to intense financial strain as they watch the bills pile up.
Your earnings before the accident will affect your settlement amount, particularly if you become disabled from your injuries. A disabled person who earned $50,000 a year before getting injured is unlikely to receive as much money as someone who earned $150,000 a year.
If you must take a lower-paying job after your oil rig accident, you may be able to receive compensation for the difference between your old salary and your new one.
The Severity of Your Injuries
Having severe injuries, like a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to a fall from oil rig scaffolding or severe burn injuries from an explosion, can result in a higher settlement amount than someone who only suffers a broken leg.
If you experienced complications from your wounds, like an infection, or from the medical treatment, like an allergic reaction to a burn salve, those complications could also justify a higher settlement.
People who do not heal 100 percent from their injuries may receive more compensation than those who achieve complete healing with no residual problems from their wounds. If you still have problems, like loss of vision, after completing your medical treatment, you might be able to receive money damages for those issues.
Evidence We Use in Oil Rig Accident Injury Cases
The specific evidence we use to build an oil rig accident injury claim varies from one case to the next. Many of these cases involve using the injured person’s medical records, employment records to show lost wages, eyewitness testimony about the accident, and other documents or testimony.
Who Can You Sue for an Oil Rig Accident?
If your employer was negligent (e.g., they violated OSHA requirements regarding fall protection or fire prevention), and that negligence caused you to get hurt, you can take action to hold your company accountable for the harm you suffered.
Other parties’ negligence may have also caused or contributed to the accident. For example, let’s say there was an explosion on the oil rig. In addition to your employer’s potential liability, we might discover that a defective piece of equipment caused the explosion. Or perhaps another company was present on the oil rig, and one of their workers was negligent and caused the incident.
Your Fort Worth oil rig injury attorney will thoroughly investigate your oil rig accident claim and identify all potentially negligent parties.
Services We Provide for Oil Rig Accident Victims
Many people injured in oil rig accidents in Fort Worth have never worked with a lawyer before. You might want to know how we treat our clients and the services we provide.
When you have a Fort Worth oil rig accident attorney from Domingo Garcia handling your claim, they can manage all communications with the defendant and their insurance company. We will stand between you and opposing parties to protect you from harassment and allow you to focus on resting and healing.
We will tell you how the claims process works, so there are no surprises. Your Fort Worth oil rig accident lawyer will keep you informed on the developments that happen and the next steps.
Insurance claims and litigation involve a lot of fancy terminology or “legalese.” We will translate these into everyday words and explain the relevant legal concepts. We are also honored to have people on our team who can communicate with Spanish-speaking clients.
Settlements We Have Won for Our Clients
We are not afraid to take on huge corporations and go after large settlements when our clients suffer severe injuries in oil rig accidents. We work hard to get the best results possible for our clients. Every oil rig injury case is different, so we cannot guarantee the same numbers in your case, but we can promise to do all we can to pursue the compensation you deserve for your oil rig injuries.
Here are some representative cases:
- We won a $1.55 million settlement in an offshore incident/Jones Act case.
- When a worker died after getting struck with heavy steel beams, we got a $3 million settlement for their family.
- We won a $5 million settlement for a client who was paralyzed after falling 15 feet from construction scaffolding.
- $4,500,000 when an oilfield worker was killed in an oil rig accident
- $3,200,000 when an oilfield worker suffered an amputation when a piece of equipment fell on his hand
What Domingo Garcia Can Do for You After a Fort Worth Oil Rig Accident
When a Fort Worth oil rig accident lawyer from our team handles your claim, we can perform many services on your behalf. For example, we can investigate the accident, analyze the evidence, and determine a fair amount of compensation for your injuries and losses.
We can take that information and draft a demand letter to the at-fault party, letting them know about the evidence that supports your claim. The demand letter will inform the defendant of the amount of money you seek for your injuries and losses.
From that point, we can negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company to try to reach a settlement. If appropriate, we can file a lawsuit and ask a court to rule on your case.
Receive a Free Consultation Today
If you suffered catastrophic injuries on an offshore oil rig, a Fort Worth oil rig accident lawyer from Domingo Garcia is ready to help you seek justice. We have over 35 years of experience and offer our services on a contingency-fee basis, which means we don’t get paid unless and until we recover compensation for you.
Please contact us today for a free initial consultation.