As one of the United States’ more booming industries, it is unsurprising that oilfield accidents are a fairly common form of personal injury claim. The more unsettling thing, however, is that the oil and gas industry is responsible for a disproportionate amount of personal injuries – and that number is growing.
This is due to a number of combined factors: the sheer amount of potential hazards present on oilfields, the likelihood of fatigued or inexperienced workers making mistakes, and the often stressful working conditions present in oilfields. Unfortunately, due to the forces, chemicals, and explosive likelihoods involved, an oilfield accident has a high likelihood of causing a serious injury or even fatal injuries.
As if that was not enough, injured oilfield workers are also more likely to have a harder time than most recovering maximum compensation for their injuries. Again, this is due to a number of factors, including: the amount of money large oil and gas companies have available to pay for expensive lawyers and insurance adjusters, the complex laws surrounding offshore oil rig work, the sheer number of possible negligent parties in the event of workplace injuries, and more.
The good news is that here at Abraham Watkins we have a hugely experienced, dedicated, and skilled Houston oilfield accident lawyer team just waiting for you to take advantage of it. We have years of experience and a proven track record serving injured workers who have suffered at the hands of this extremely dangerous industry. To find out how you could recover damages for your own injuries, call us today for a free consultation.
Do not let big oil companies and their insurance companies take advantage of you. Call Abrahama Watkins today at 713-535-9319.
Common Causes of Oil Field Accidents
As we mentioned in the introduction, the gas and oil industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States today. In order to demonstrate this, the following is a list of common oil field accident causes seen by our law firm:
- Fires, explosions, and other accidents involving highly pressurized substances;
- Heavy machinery accidents, including crush injuries and workers being run over by vehicles;
- Accidents involving prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals and toxic substances;
- Slips, trips, and falls – including situations where unsecured equipment falls on a worker;
- Accidents caused by improperly maintained, faulty, or out-of-date equipment;
- Avoidable accidents caused due to improper or lacking personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Accidents caused by worker fatigue, improper training, or lack of oil field experience.
As you can see, many of these types of accidents could cause serious or catastrophic injuries to oilfield workers. We will run through the common injury types in the next section.
Common Injuries Sustained by Oilfield Workers
The many diverse types of possible accidents listed above inevitably lead to many different types of injury victims. An injured worker from the gas extraction industries may raise legal claims about any of the following common injury types:
- Scalds and burn injuries, including burns of an electrical or chemical nature;
- Cuts, abrasions, punctures, and other skin injuries;
- Head injuries, including those severe enough to lead to internal issues such as a traumatic brain injury;
- Damaged, injured, or dislocated joints – including the knees, shoulders, wrists, and hips;
- Broken or fractured bones;
- Respiratory issues;
- Organ damage and other internal injuries, often as a result of crush injuries;
- Damaged or irritated nerves;
- Sensory loss, most commonly of hearing or vision;
- Neck, back, and spinal injuries – from slipped discs to full paralysis;
- Limb amputation; and
- Scarring and disfigurement.
Unfortunately, due to the number of serious accidents that can occur on an oil rig or other oil fields, this is not an exhaustive list. Furthermore, an injured worker does not need to suffer a serious injury in order to seek compensation.
The best way to find out if you could be entitled to raise a case is to speak to a personal injury lawyer from Abraham Watkins today for a free consultation.
Most Houston Oilfield Accident Cases Are the Result of Negligence
While there are numerous ways injured workers may experience their accidents across the oil and gas industry, the uniting factor is often the negligence of a party other than the injured person–meaning the employee was not at fault for their injuries.
Someone is negligent when they violate their duty of care to you. A duty of care essentially means the reasonable steps a person must take to ensure that nobody else comes to harm because of their actions. Every driver has a duty of care not to drive recklessly or while intoxicated, just as all oilfield owners have a duty of care to keep their equipment and workspaces properly maintained, their workers equipped with personal protective equipment, and their workplace free of unnecessary danger.
A negligent party is said to be responsible for your injuries and their consequences when they violate their duty of care to you in some way, and this violation (or, negligence) leads to you becoming injured. In this situation, it is likely you will be within your rights to seek financial compensation for the injuries you have sustained and the damages caused. An experienced oilfield accident attorney will be able to help you do this.
Oilfield Accidents Have Many Potential Negligent Parties
One of the things that make oilfield accident personal injury claims quite complicated is the possibility for many different parties to violate their duty of care and thus be negligent.
When making a claim, it is still possible to recover fair compensation when more than one party is negligent. It may simply make the process of determining responsibility more complex, or it could make a case more complicated with the potential for more legal teams to be involved from one or more parties.
To give some idea of the potential negligent parties in a Houston oilfield accident, here are some examples:
- Large oil companies, like Shell, Exxon Mobil, or British Petroleum;
- The companies who service these large oil companies;
- The owners of the oilfield;
- The operators of the oilfield, including the oil drilling and other machinery operators;
- Companies responsible for the oil exploration;
- Oil pumpers;
- The companies who make, sell, maintain, or rent the onsite equipment;
- The companies who own oil refineries;
- Truck drivers from outside companies, or the companies who employ them; and
- Regulatory agencies overseeing operations.
You can see how things can get complicated, especially if you assume each party will likely want to involve their legal teams and an insurance company. That is why you need to know you are going with an experienced attorney – like those here at Abraham Watkins – when you take legal action.
How Oilfield Companies and Others May Try to Reduce Your Compensation
There are, unfortunately, many ways that oil field accident victims may have their compensation decreased. This is because it is in the best interest of every negligent party, and any insurance company involved, to pay out as little in compensation as possible to protect their bottom line.
Common ways to attempt to reduce the compensation deserved by injured oilfield workers include:
- Eliciting a written or recorded statement from the injured oilfield worker, in an attempt to gather evidence to devalue their claim. Never disclose any unnecessary details about your accident without speaking to your oilfield accident lawyer;
- Insisting on the use of a company doctor who would then attempt to minimize the seriousness of the injuries the accident victim suffered;
- Falsely claiming accident victims were at fault for their own injuries. Often other coworkers and expert witnesses will be used as evidence to back these claims.
- Getting rid of essential evidence that would prove the oil and gas industries were at fault;
- Offering lowball settlements or worker’s compensation offers that are well below the potential value of a personal injury claim;
- Trying to force an injured worker to sign paperwork releasing them from liability;
- Sometimes they may threaten to withhold your pay until you sign. Again, you should never sign anything without an oilfield accident attorney seeing it first; and
- Using private investigators to invade the life of the injured worker in order to attempt to gain evidence that would devalue their claim.
There are many ways an oil and gas company, or another at-fault party, could attempt to undermine the compensation you deserve. That is why it is important to act fast, and with the backing of experienced oilfield accident lawyers who know how to handle a potentially multi-party case.
The Types of Compensation Available After Oilfield Accidents
Your Houston oilfield accident lawyers may be able to win you compensation that falls into several categories, known as damages. Which damages will apply to your oilfield injury case will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your accident, as well as the severity of the consequences you suffered. More serious damage usually means more compensation.
Some examples of the damages that may be owed to oilfield accident victims, depending on their circumstances, include:
- Lost wages. If you sustain serious injuries, you are unlikely to be able to work while you recover. You can be compensated for this time spent not earning, as well as any impact on your future earnings as a result of your oilfield injury.
- Medical bills. The cost of medical treatment is a leading cause of bankruptcy in America. Thankfully, you may be able to claim this money back as part of your personal injury case.
- Pain and suffering. These damages calculate a figure using your economic damages and the amount of time your recovery process took, including considerations for the pain level involved and any other lasting consequences.
- Out-of-pocket expenses. Similarly to not being able to work, your injury may incur additional avoidable costs, such as travel or childcare. These expenses may also be able to be claimed back.
- Emotional distress. While harder to prove than physical injuries, it may be possible for you to gain compensation if you have suffered from PTSD, depression, anxiety, or any other mental complications following your oilfield accident.
- Wrongful death. If a member of your family was fatally injured in an oilfield accident, you could be entitled to compensation to cover their lost household income, your loss of companionship, burial and funerary expenses, and more.
If you were working offshore at the time of your oilfield accident, it is possible that categories of compensation you could be owed may differ slightly – but you are likely to still be covered by various federal statutes and acts designed to protect workers employed offshore.
No matter what your situation, the oilfield accident attorneys here at Abraham Watkins, our experienced attorneys will work tirelessly to maximize the compensation you could be owed for your oilfield injury.
Gathering Evidence After an Oilfield Accident
As injured Houston oilfield workers may be up against significant challenges when raising their personal injury claim, evidence is essential.
Your oilfield injury lawyers will help you collect and collate this evidence, forming it into a solid position that is personalized around the individual details of your case. However, some pieces of evidence may only be gained by yourself, and others may disappear quickly. Time is of the essence, so contact a law firm as soon after your oil and gas accident as possible.
Possible sources of evidence that could be powerfully used by oilfield accident attorneys that you could help to collect for yourself include:
- Photographs of the scene of the accident. However, these should only be taken if is completely safe to do so, and you should always prioritize seeking medical assistance over collecting evidence immediately after your accident;
- Statements from eye view witnesses who saw the accident take place, or a team member or somebody else who can testify about the general negligence in your oil and gas workplace;
- Documents to demonstrate the cost and extent of your accident consequences. Keep all medical bills and other bills that were a result of your accident, as they will be essential in demonstrating the economic damages dealt to you; and
- All correspondence with your employer. Try to communicate with your employer in writing, so that you have a record of their words and actions – especially if they are attempting to withhold paychecks or behaving in an intimidating way.
There are, of course, many other potential sources of evidence with oilfield accidents. To stand the best chance at missing nothing essential, speak to your oilfield accident lawyers about the specifics of your case.
How Long After Oilfield Accidents Are You Still Entitled to Raise a Claim?
Unfortunately, even the most severe oilfield accidents can only have a claim for compensation raised about them for a certain amount of time. This period of time is known as the statute of limitations.
In Texas, the statute of limitations is set at two years. This time begins on the exact day on which the accident occurred. After this time period has elapsed, no claim can be made.
However, for oilfield injury claims, there is a possible exception. In many circumstances, if an oilfield injury occurs off the shores of the United States, that person may have a three-year window to raise their claim – as per federal maritime accident law.
Ultimately, if you were recently injured, the total amount of time available to you is not important. The most important thing is that you raise your claim as soon as possible. With complex, multi-party cases like these involving many wealthy parties, time is of the essence. With each passing day, the likelihood of evidence becoming lost, witnesses being bought out, and opposing cases growing stronger increases.
Helping Workers Injured In Oil And Gas Accidents
Accidents that occur on oil and gas fields can result in catastrophic injuries or even death.
When an accident happens, victims and their families need to understand their legal options.
Since our firm was established in 1951, our oil well injury attorneys have spent decades defending the rights of workers injured in petrochemical and refinery accidents.
Over the decades, our lawyers have handled numerous oil and gas accident cases. We have helped workers injured in refinery plant fires – such as the explosion at the BP facility in Texas City in 2005. We have also represented individuals whose homes were destroyed in natural gas explosions.Today, we help clients dealing with the aftermath of:
- Oil refinery accidents, including refinery negligence
- Oil and gas field accidents
- Offshore injuries
- Oil rig explosions
- Pipeline explosions
- Propane fires and explosions
- Gas leaks
- Falls from oil rigs
- Falling objects from rigs and drilling platforms
- Ship channel accidents
- Hydro fracking and shale oil accidents
- Defective equipment or equipment that is improperly maintained
- Accidents involving trucks traveling to and from oil fields and drilling sites
Injured workers may be covered by workers’ compensation. However, many injuries and deaths are caused by the negligence of contractors. For instance, if you were injured due to the negligence of another company or one of its employees, you are entitled to recover compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and other damages.
Our attorneys have extensive knowledge of federal and state regulations that govern the manufacture and storage of petrochemicals, liquid petroleum, oil, industrial chemicals and natural gas.In addition, our firm is familiar with the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines associated with the petrochemical and refinery industries.These are essential qualifications for assessing responsibility and preparing cases against all of the parties who may be responsible for an industrial accident.
We Help Injured Oilfield Workers Achieve Compensation
If you were injured while working for an oil or gas company, our team of oilfield injury lawyers wants to help you maximize the compensation you could be owed. It does not matter whether you are suffering a life-changing injury, an expensive inconvenience, or whether your consequences were mostly psychological–we will fight for the justice that you deserve.
The process starts with a free consultation with one of our specialized and experienced t lawyers, where you will be able to share the specific details of your accident in a completely confidential environment. Our lawyer will be able to answer your questions, give you an idea of what your legal process will look like, your chances of success, and how much money you could stand to gain.
Do not let the often powerful and intimidating legal teams and insurance companies involved with oilfield accidents put you off seeking the compensation you deserve. The law affords you protection and financial justice in the face of negligence, and we will help you access and take advantage of these protections.
Claim for the compensation you rightfully deserve today with Abraham Watkins. Call us at 713-535-9319.
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