As you recover from catastrophic injuries caused by an oil field accident, medical debt and out-of-pocket expenses get in the way of your regular financial obligations. This kind of financial insecurity can make it difficult for you to heal and move forward with your life. Fortunately, if you sustained physical or emotional harm in an oil field accident, you might have legal options for compensation.
At Domingo Garcia, we understand how devastating oil field accidents can be and how they can affect the lives of the injured and their loved ones. Our Odessa oil field accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation from several possible avenues. We offer free consultations to workers injured on Odessa oil fields.
Why Should You Consult With Our Odessa Oil Field Accident Attorney?
If you want to pursue compensation for injuries sustained in an oil field accident, it might be helpful to have a lawyer with experience handling similar cases. When an accident occurs, oil companies will perform an investigation, but they may not be particularly motivated to ensure you are treated fairly.
For this reason, you should have another party qualified to examine the details of your accident, such as our personal injury attorney. You deserve to have someone advocate for your best interests and fight for fair compensation on your behalf.
When you consult with a personal injury attorney from our firm, they will learn as much as possible about your case and ensure you understand your rights and options.
How Can an Odessa Oil Field Accident Lawyer Help You?
Filing claims and lawsuits can be time-consuming and complex. Our Odessa oil field attorneys can handle the essential duties in your case, including:
- Investigating your accident and collecting evidence
- Taking pictures of the accident scene and your injuries
- Securing surveillance video of the accident, if any exists
- Gathering and organizing documentation, such as accident reports, medical bills, income statements, etc.
- Speaking with eyewitnesses and taking statements
- Identifying the cause of your accident and contributing factors
- Determining liable parties, such as your employer, their insurer, a manufacturing company, etc.
- Identifying your losses and calculating their overall value
- Communicating and negotiating with insurance companies
- Consulting with experts such as accident reconstruction specialists
- Filing a lawsuit if your lawyer deems it necessary
- Arguing your case and representing you at trial
Why Expert Testimony Is Important Evidence
Expert witnesses can help oil field workers achieve favorable results in their injury claims. These experts provide valuable information that supports your claims:
- OSHA consultants
- Engineering and safety equipment experts
- Occupational and environmental health experts
- Accident reconstruction specialists
- Licensed medical professionals, such as primary care and specialty doctors
- Mental health professionals, such as therapists and counselors
High Praise for Domingo Garcia and the Firm’s Accident Attorneys
Reviews are just one of many markers that testify to the quality of our services. We also have an excellent Avvo rating and a robust history of case results. Our experience working with oil field injury victims has produced major settlements including $1,075,000 for an oilfield blowout.
Here is what two of our clients have to say:
“I’m very pleased with the service that Domingo Garcia law firm gave me on my case also I want to thank Stephanie Tijerina With the other staff that was behind her with my case I really do recommend Domingo García law firm for any kind of cases do you have in Dallas and Odessa Texas wherever he has an office.” – Laura Olveda
“I’m very happy with the service specially with the service provided by Odali Ibarra she is very humble and honest about my case…if someone is looking into coming to the office of odessa tx highly recommend Odali Ibarra not only is she very professional she becomes a good friend who won’t let you down hands down your case couldn’t be in better hands the law office of Domingo Garcia has a great element in his team.” – Ivonee Arroyo
We hope you’ll allow us to fight for a favorable outcome in your Odessa accident case.
Determining Liability in Odessa Oil Field Accidents
In many cases, your employer is liable for work-related accidents and injuries.
Proving a party was negligent and, therefore, liable for your injuries requires demonstrating the following:
- The party owed you a duty of care. This means they were expected to exercise reasonable care to prevent you from being harmed. For example, an employer has a responsibility to you to ensure safety measures are in place and Occupational Safety Hazard Administration (OSHA) regulations are met.
- The party, such as your employer, breached their duty to you, meaning they did not fulfill their obligation to provide a reasonably safe work environment. For example, if they knew a hazard existed and did not remedy it or post warnings, this would be a breach of duty.
- The party’s breach or violation was the direct or proximate cause of your injuries. Moreover, your injuries would not have occurred if not for your employer’s failure to fulfill their duty.
- You suffered quantifiable losses from your injuries, such as medical costs, income loss, pain and suffering, etc.
Because multiple parties can be involved in an oil field or rig accident, this can complicate the process of seeking compensation. However, a personal injury attorney with experience handling oil worker injury cases can help identify all responsible parties and your various options for seeking compensation.
Potential Avenues for Compensation After Your Oil Field Accident Injury
Depending on the nature of your job and the circumstances that led to your injuries, you may have several options for seeking compensation. You may have several options for recovery:
Filing a Personal Injury Action
You might be able to file a civil lawsuit against an employer for gross negligence if they are a workers’ compensation non-subscriber. Gross negligence can apply if an intentional act by a supervisor or person with high authority causes your injuries. In Texas, you have up to two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury, according to Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.002. Damages can include the following:
- Medical costs, including emergency care, hospital stays, surgery, medication, etc.
- Mental health care expenses
- Past and future loss of income
- Diminished earning capacity
- Long-term and permanent impairment
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of life enjoyment
Also, under Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.003, punitive damages may be awarded if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that a worker’s injuries resulted from malice, fraud, or gross negligence.
Filing a Wrongful Death Action
Unfortunately, because oil and gas workers are subject to many hazardous conditions, fatalities are higher than in many other industries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2003-2013, about 1,189 people in the gas and oil extraction industry died on the job, averaging about eight deaths per year. Of note, drilling company workers experienced the highest death rate of those in the industry, followed by those of well-servicing companies.
If you lost a loved one, we hope that taking legal action can give you financial relief that will allow you to grieve. While it may be the last thing you want to worry about, our wrongful death lawyer is committed to mitigating your losses with financial recovery.
Our oil field accident lawyers can pursue these common losses:
- Outstanding medical bills
- Funeral and burial costs
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Lost wages or other financial support
- Lost companionship
- Loss of guidance and support
We hope you’ll allow us to shoulder your legal burden, so you can mourn the loss of your loved one and move forward.
Compensation Under the Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act)
By law, persons working on offshore oil fields are considered maritime workers, and injuries they sustain on these rigs are covered by 46 U.S.C. § 30106. Under this federal law, workers classified as seamen injured on specific movable rigs can seek negligence-based civil claims against their employer for job-related injuries.
For example, injuries that occur due to unsafe equipment, lack of safety training, an unseaworthy vessel, or an unreasonably dangerous environment may qualify for compensation under the Jones Act. Oil companies, their employees, or vessel operators/owners are liable under this law.
Compensation Under the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
If you were an offshore oil worker injured on the job, you might be eligible for benefits under the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). Under 33 U.S.C. Chapter 18, offshore workers can secure compensation for medical bills and vocational rehab expenses if their injuries occurred on U.S. navigable waters.
Our team will review your case to determine the best course of action.
Common Causes of Oil Field Accidents
Not all oil field and oil rig injuries are related to accidents. Some injuries are caused by repetitive motion and others are related to health conditions. However, accidents cause many of the most severe and long-lasting injuries.
Many factors and conditions that lead to accidents include the following:
Oil Industry Safety Exemptions and Violations
According to OSHA and federal law, workers are entitled to a safe workplace free of known health and safety hazards. Likewise, workers have legal rights, such as being provided with safety gear and protection from harmful chemicals, working on machines that are safe, and having the right to request an OSHA inspection.
OSHA is responsible for establishing and enforcing safety regulations in the workplace. However, the oil extraction industry is unique because it is often exempt from OSHA standards intended to make the workplace safer. Instead, oil drilling operations are regulated by OSHA’s General Duty Clause for any serious hazard that exists in the workplace that is not addressed by a specific OSHA standard.
In fact, according to OSHA’s Oil and Gas Extraction Standards, “site preparation is the only aspect of oil and gas well drilling and servicing operations covered by 29 CFR 1926,” including “activities such as leveling the site, trenching, and excavation.”
Insufficient Emergency Protocols
Oil field and rig workers need an Emergency Action Plan in place. Moreover, if something goes wrong, every worker should be able to escape the danger as quickly and safely as possible. Designated exit routes and evacuation procedures should be established and practiced.
Also, workers should be provided with safety essentials such as flame-resistant apparel and training in fire prevention.
Stringent Oil Industry Demands and Deadlines
Workers are often under pressure to maximize productivity to fulfill the high demands and deadlines of the oil and gas industry. As a result, employers and employees may be prone to cutting corners, disregarding safety procedures, or failing to use safety equipment. However, doing so can make working in oil fields unreasonably dangerous.
Another side effect of being under pressure to meet employer demands is drug use. Stimulants, such as meth and cocaine, are sometimes used in a dangerous attempt to keep up with demand. Despite many oil and gas companies enforcing rigorous drug testing, drug abuse still contributes to accident-related injuries.
Once on board, employees are often required to undergo significant training related to duties like handling and operating heavy machinery and specialized equipment. If workers are somehow allowed to perform their jobs without adequate training, the risk of accidents and injuries increases.
Failing and Defective Equipment
Oil rigs consist of massive and potentially hazardous pieces of equipment necessary for drilling, pulling pipes, and other activities. Understandably, these large and complex machines have numerous moving parts. If any component, system, equipment, vehicle, or vessel is broken or defective, accidents can occur and lead to severe or fatal injuries.
Common Odessa Oil Field Accidents and Causes
Oilfield and rig accidents are often associated with severe injuries and rig worker fatalities, such as the following:
Slips, Trips, and Falls
As in many industries, slip, trip, and fall accidents in oil fields are among the leading causes of injuries and fatalities. Sometimes workers fall from heights to lower levels and sustain catastrophic damage like spinal cord injuries. In fact, about one-third of falls occur from a platform known as the derrick board, according to “Occupational Fatalities Resulting from Falls in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry.”
Other causes of falls include slippery or uneven floors, debris scattered in walking spaces, unsecured ladders, and trips over loose wires.
Being Struck By, Caught In, and Caught Between Objects or Equipment
Heavy equipment is commonplace on oil field sites—conveyors, barges, platforms, etc. Struck-by and caught-in incidents are often due to the inattention of an operator who fails to notice a co-worker in the way of a hazard. Examples of struck-by accidents include employees struck by falling objects or whipping pressurized lines.
According to OSHA’s “Oil and Gas Extraction” statistics, 3 out of 5 on-site fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry result from struck-by/caught-in/caught-between hazards.
When an injury is caused by getting caught between objects, it is considered a caught-between event.
These incidents include being pulled into or caught between the components of equipment or machinery or getting stuck or crushed between sliding, shifting, or rolling objects. Caught-in injuries can also occur when workers enter confined spaces, such as the inner workings of machinery.
Oil rig workers risk electrocution when mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic energy is not controlled. Electrical hazards can be evidenced by tripped circuit breakers, worn or frayed insulation or connections, blown fuses, and warm wires.
Electrocution can cause internal organ and nerve damage and severe burns, depending on the voltage and how long a worker maintains contact. In arc flash situations, energy can send radiation and shrapnel soaring through the air and possibly cause eye damage, hearing loss, and other injuries.
Oil well blowouts can occur in oil fields when the release of oil or gas becomes uncontrollable, such as when pressure control systems malfunction. Blowouts, although not necessarily hazardous on their own, can lead to fires and explosions if oil ignites.
Fires and Explosions
Sparks caused by equipment and tools, static electricity, chemical reactions, and extreme heat can ignite combustible substances and lead to fires and explosions. The following conditions can also contribute to fires and explosions:
- Ungrounded electrical wires
- Faulty batteries or corrosion
- Improperly stored chemicals and substances
- Lack of equipment maintenance or mechanical failure
Toxic Chemical Exposure
Oil field workers encounter hazards daily when they handle toxic substances or are exposed to fumes. Employees working in confined spaces may become severely ill or suffer from suffocation or asphyxiation when exposed to toxic chemicals. Some dangerous substances an oil field worker may be exposed to include the following:
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Nitrogen oxide
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2 out of 5 workers (37%) in the oil industry are fatally injured on the job due to roadway accidents. Indeed, oil field workers spend significant time transporting substances long distances on the freeway.
Also, large trucks and other vehicles full of heavy equipment and cargo travel to and from rigs around extraction sites. As a result, workers are sometimes struck by trucks, tankers, forklifts, and various other vehicles. Furthermore, combustible substances could cause a fire or explosion if a severe collision occurs.
Transportation accidents that are relatively unique to the oil industry include those involving helicopters. It is one of the most common ways oil field workers are transported between offshore rigs and land bases. Although rare, a helicopter accident is likely to result in catastrophic and fatal injuries.
Oil Field Workers Are at Greater Risk of Catastrophic Injuries
Due to the unpredictability of extraction, oil rig and oil field workers will encounter some risks. That said, some jobs pose a greater danger to worker safety than others. Job titles of those who face significant hazards include the following:
- Derrick operator (derrickhand)
- Motorhands (motorman)
- Drillers (rig operators)
- Roughnecks (laborers)
- Pipeline walkers
- Pipelayers or pipefitters
- Oil rig managers
- Truck and bus drivers
Common Injuries in Oil Field Accidents
Oil field workers can sustain severe injuries, such as the following:
- Broken bones in arms, legs, hands, or feet
- Head and traumatic brain injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds
- Accidental amputation of fingers and limbs
- Chemical burns
- Burns from fires and explosions
- Hearing loss due to repeated exposure to noisy equipment
- Vision loss or eye injuries caused by exposure to chemicals
- Partial or complete paralysis
Like most industries, oil field employers and rig workers are responsible for protecting their employees from unreasonably unsafe conditions. Still, rules and regulations are sometimes broken, and workers are often under tremendous pressure to endure pain and injuries to satisfy deadlines.
Overexertion and exhaustion are common among oil workers and increase the risk of injuries, illnesses, and death. Some injuries, although not fatal, can lead to long-term impairments, chronic pain, permanent disabilities, and diminished quality of life.
You Pay Our Team Nothing Up Front for Our Help
Injured workers and their families often forgo legal help because they think they cannot afford to hire a lawyer. With our firm, that is not true. We handle all cases with no upfront fees. We want you to focus on recovering from your injuries and spending time with family, not on putting together enough money for a retainer. You only pay us if you recover compensation.
Schedule a Consultation With an Odessa Oil Field Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured or lost a family member in an oil rig accident, there are several ways we can pursue compensation, depending on your circumstances. At Domingo Garcia, we will help you navigate the complex claims process so you don’t have to do it alone. Furthermore, we will fight to secure the compensation you need to cover your financial, physical, and emotional losses.
We aim to understand what you’re going through, and we want to help support you and advocate for your best interests. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation so you can learn more about your options. Let our team protect your right to compensation.