Working in the oil field industry can be dangerous. Due to equipment failures and other accidents, oil field workers can suffer life-threatening injuries, such as chemical and electrical burn injuries, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, and more.
Fortunately, oilfield workers and their families can seek financial compensation from liable parties by partnering with a personal injury lawyer with experience in the oil and gas industry.
Keep reading to learn more about common oilfield injuries, the oilfield injury compensation process, potential payouts for injured workers, and the importance of legal representation in oilfield accident cases.
Common Oilfield Injuries
Oilfield workers are at a high risk of sustaining fatal injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the possibility of dying on the job for gas and oil workers is seven times higher than the national average. Some of the most frequent causes of oil rig and oilfield accidents include oil rig explosions, inadequate training, heavy machinery malfunction, fatigue, lack of safety equipment, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations.
Common oilfield injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are catastrophic injuries that can cause death and disability. They happen when a sudden physical assault damages the brain.
- Anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries are two other types of brain injuries. Anoxic injuries happen when oxygen is completely cut off from the brain, and hypoxic brain injuries occur when the brain is not receiving enough oxygen. Potential long-term impacts include tremors, memory problems, speech impairments, and disturbances in motor function.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) happen when the bundle of nerves and cells that sends and receives brain signals to and from the rest of the body is damaged.
- Nerve damage is also called peripheral neuropathy. Depending on which nerves are damaged, people with nerve damage may experience various symptoms, including trouble sensing changes in paralysis, temperature, excessive sweating, gastrointestinal symptoms, and uncontrollable muscle twitching.
- Crush injuries happen when pressure or force is put on a body part — for example, when equipment falls on an arm or leg.
- Joint injuries happen when the ligaments around the joint tear or stretch.
- Chemical and electrical burn injuries are tissue damage caused by chemicals involved in drilling and fracking. Superficial and minor burns can usually heal within a month, but deeper burns can permanently damage skin and underlying tissue, including ligaments, tendons, nerves, and muscles. Doctors may need to use skin grafts to treat severe burns.
- Severe lacerations are large or deep cuts that cause the victim to lose blood very quickly.
- Whiplash happens due to sudden bending or extension of the neck. It is also called neck strain or neck sprain.
- Respiratory injuries like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can happen when workers inhale toxicants released from crude oil, such as benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene.
- Neck and back injuries happen when gas and oil workers lift, carry, lower, pull, or push heavy objects. These injuries can lead to ruptured or herniated discs and fractured vertebrae.
- Death. Unfortunately, some workers pass away due to their injuries. If a loved one has died from oilfield injuries, you may be eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. A Texas personal injury lawyer can tell you more about your options.
The Compensation Process
If you have been injured in an oilfield accident, you generally have two choices: Go through the workers' compensation system or file a personal injury lawsuit.
If your employer or coworker is responsible for your accident and you are covered by workers' compensation insurance, your only remedy is a workers' compensation claim. You will not be able to sue your employer or coworker for negligence. However, you can sue your employer if you are not covered by workers' compensation insurance. This is called a non-subscriber claim.
If someone outside your company hurts you, you can file a third-party liability claim whether or not workers' compensation covers you. For example, if you suffered a TBI due to a defective piece of drilling equipment, you may be eligible to bring a claim against the manufacturer of that equipment.
Contact a Dallas personal injury attorney if you need help with your workers' compensation, third-party, or subscriber claim. A knowledgeable attorney can walk you through every step of the claims process, including:
- Determining who is responsible for your injuries
- Helping you with your workers' compensation claim
- Helping you file your third-party/non-subscriber claim
- Negotiating with the opposing insurance company so you can focus on getting medical attention
- Taking your case to court as needed
Potential Payouts for Injured Workers
If you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, your lawyer will thoroughly analyze your case to determine liability. They will then gather evidence and help you pursue maximum compensation for a wide range of damages, including the following.
You may receive payouts for all medical bills incurred due to your oilfield injuries, including surgery, rehabilitation, and medical equipment fees.
Loss of Wages
If you cannot work due to your oil rig injuries, you may receive financial compensation for your loss of wages.
Pain and Suffering, Including Mental Anguish
You may also receive compensation for the pain, suffering, and mental anguish caused by your oil rig injuries. Generally speaking, the more severe the injuries, the more you can receive for pain and suffering.
Punitive Damages in Severe Cases
The jury may reward punitive damages if the conduct of the defendants (the people, oil companies, or third-party equipment manufacturers being sued) is particularly egregious or intentional. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish defendants and make an example out of them.
The Importance of Legal Representation in Oilfield Accident Cases
Dealing with an oil rig injury can be stressful, especially if workers' compensation doesn't cover you.
That's where Dunn Sheehan's knowledgeable accident lawyers come in. Tenacious and compassionate, our oilfield injury attorneys aim to provide unsurpassed and effective client service. Our lawyers have obtained impressive results for clients, including $30 million for a product liability case, $8.5 million for a product liability case, and $7.5 million in a commercial vehicle case.
Contact Dunn Sheehan today to schedule a consultation with an oilfield accident lawyer.