Oilfield Injuries & Safety Regulations
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates health and safety in work environments across the country. There are many OSHA safety requirements oil and gas workers and employees must adhere to. Failing to do so is not only a legal violation, it also increases the risk of workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
OSHA safety regulations are specific to the industry and type of operation. OSHA safety regulations include:
- Minimum training requirements
- Immediate worker supervision
- Rig floor supervision
- Constant well control
- Minimum equipment and machinery standards
- Equipment cleaning and maintenance requirements
- Blowout prevention equipment installed and tested
- Hazardous substances properly labeled
- Hard hats, eye protection, and safety-toe footwear requirements
- Loose or flammable clothing, jewelry that can be snagged, and loose hair prohibited
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, including hearing and respiratory protection
- Fall protection gear for work 10 feet above the lower surface
- Vehicle minimum distance requirements
- CPR-trained individual and first aid kits at worksites
- Emergency eye and body wash stations
- Immediate accident and injury reporting and treatment
- Accident investigations
Common Oilfield Accidents
Kemmy Law Firm will represent oil and gas workers across the U.S. who have been injured in:
- Oil truck accidents
- Other transportation accidents
- Oil field explosions
- Oil field fires
- Oil well fires
- Oil well blowouts
- Oil refinery accidents
- Gas refinery accidents
- Drilling accidents
- Fracking accidents
- Machinery and equipment malfunctions
- Machinery and equipment failures
- Personal protection equipment failures
- Poisoning incidents
- Hazardous material exposure
- Struck by object accidents
- Slip and falls
- Falls from heights
- Confined space collapses
- Crush injuries
Common Oilfield Injuries
We are here to help after you are diagnosed with an oilfield injury, including:
- Multiple and complex bone fractures
- Torn ligaments, tendons, and muscles
- Severe lacerations
- Facial and dental injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries, including herniated discs, ruptured discs, and fractured vertebrae
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Respiratory injuries
- Vision or hearing loss
- Fire-related, electric, or chemical burn injuries
- Crush injuries
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic or surgical amputations
Oilfield Accident Damages
When you are injured in an oilfield accident, you may be entitled to compensation either through the workers’ compensation system or a personal injury lawsuit.
Third -Party Oilfield Injury Claims
If you find you are covered by worker’s compensation you may have a workers’ comp claim.. However, you may also be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit if:
Your employer does not provide workers’ comp insurance. This is known as a non-subscriber claim.
You are an independent oil contractor and not covered by workers’ comp.
The at-fault party is someone from outside of your employer. This is known as a third-party liability claim.
Through a personal injury lawsuit, you can pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Disability/Physical Limitations
- Reduced Earning Capacity
- Reduced Quality of Life
Texas and New Mexico both allow punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, if you can prove the at-fault party acted recklessly, intentionally, or maliciously. New Mexico does not cap the amount of punitive damages you may receive, but Texas does.
In Texas, a jury may award you the greater of two times the amount of economic damages plus an amount equal to any noneconomic damages up to $750,000; or $200,000.
Fatal Oilfield Accidents
Texas allows a surviving spouse, child, parent, or personal representative to file a wrongful death lawsuit and pursue compensation on behalf of these surviving relatives.
Texas also allows for survival claims, which are causes of action that arose in a person’s lifetime and survived that person’s death. If your loved one’s personal injury claim survived their passing, then a family member, their estate, or their legal representative can continue that claim for compensation. This is a separate action from the family’s wrongful death claim.
New Mexico allows the personal representative of your relative’s estate to file a wrongful death claim and seek compensation for the surviving spouse and children. If your loved one did not leave behind a spouse or child, compensation goes to the parents or siblings.
Also, if your loved one was covered by workers’ compensation insurance, talk with an oilfield injury lawyer about filing a claim for survivors’ benefits. In New Mexico and Texas, you may be entitled to compensation for funeral and burial expenses and lost future income.
Determining Liability & Oilfield Employer Negligence
After being hurt or losing a relative in an oilfield accident, it is essential you determine who was responsible. In some circumstances, information regarding fault will not enable you to pursue compensation. If a coworker or your employer is to blame, and you are covered by workers’ comp insurance, then your sole remedy is a workers’ compensation claim. You cannot sue your employer for negligence.
However, if someone from outside of your employer caused you harm, then you can file a third-party liability claim, whether or not you have workers’ comp insurance. If you do not have workers’ comp coverage, then the law allows you to sue your employer.
Statute of Limitations
If your oilfield accident took place in Texas, you have two years to file a lawsuit. If it took place in New Mexico, you have three years. These time limits are known as statutes of limitations, and they begin to run the day you suffer your injuries.
Oilfield Accident Claims Process
Kemmy Law Firm is here to guide you through the claims process, including:
- The Investigation: All of the available evidence will be collected and analyzed to determine who is responsible for your oilfield injuries.
- The Workers’ Comp Analysis: If you have workers’ compensation insurance, the state Workers’ Comp Bureau will review the facts and make a finding regarding your claim.
- Third-Party Liability/Non-Subscriber Claim: If the law entitles you to file a lawsuit against your employer, a third party, or both you must give the insurer notice of your claim within a reasonable amount of time.
- Insurance Negotiations: Many injury claims are resolved through an insurance claim before trial. The insurance adjuster will likely offer you a settlement, but do not immediately say yes. It is better to consider whether the settlement fairly compensates you. In most cases, it will be for less than what’s appropriate in your case. An oilfield accident attorney is better equipped to enter negotiations and pursue a higher amount.
Oilfield Accident Lawsuits & Trial Preparation
Filing a lawsuit is not only about going to trial; it is about gathering as much information as possible and showing the at-fault party and their insurer that you are serious about your claim.
During litigation, the case will go through discovery. This involves the use of depositions, interrogatories, and requests for documents to gather a large amount of information and documentation. This evidence may strengthen your claim. It also helps identify weaknesses, which can be addressed during settlement negotiations or trial.
Your case may also benefit from hiring one or more experts that will testify regarding elements of your case. This may include oil and gas industry professionals, engineers, accident reconstruction, vocation, economic, or medical experts, who can offer an informed and professional opinion regarding the cause of the accident, your injuries, and the value of your damages.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Do After an Oilfield Accident?
You should get medical treatment immediately after the accident. Then, report the accident to your supervisor and inform them of your injuries. Gather photos and videos if you can as this could strengthen your injury claim.
How Much Compensation Can I Receive in My Settlement?
The compensation you receive varies on a case-by-case basis. Oilfield accidents are especially devastating, and the injuries you experienced might require ongoing care, which results in medical bills and other expenses, not to mention non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Essentially, the more damages you incurred from your accident; the more compensation you might receive.
What Are the Worst Oilfield Accidents?
Oilfield accidents occur all over the world, and they range in severity. Deepwater Horizon is the most infamous oilfield accident and remains as being the largest oil spill in the history of marine oil drilling operations. There are countless other disasters that have left a significant impact on those involved and their families, such as Piper Alpha, Ocean Ranger, and Bohai 2 to name a few.
Can You Get Fired for Reporting a Safety Violation?
No. Worker protection laws prohibit your employer from retaliating against you for reporting a safety violation or accident.