The opioid abuse epidemic has hit the United States workforce hard, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The oil and gas industry is no exception.
Oil fields are fast-paced and inherently dangerous workplaces where precision, vigilance, and quick reaction times are of the utmost importance. When oil field workers take drugs that dull the senses, they put the safety of everyone on the job site in jeopardy by increasing the risk of mistakes that can lead to serious accidents, injuries, and even deaths.
However, in recent years, the most dangerous drugs affecting the performance of oil field workers haven't been recreational drugs. Many are abusing medication prescribed by their doctors, often to treat severe and chronic pain caused by work-related injuries and overexertion.
If you were injured in an oil field accident caused by another worker's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.
Common Oil Field Accidents and Injuries
When complex heavy machinery, fallible humans, and the hurried nature of the oil fields collide, the potential for serious accidents and injuries is significant. Some of the most common scenarios resulting in oil field injuries include:
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Inclement-weather incidents
- Malfunctioning, defective, or poorly-maintained equipment
- Oil and gas truck accidents
- Deck and scaffolding collapses
These and other oil field accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Broken or crushed bones
- Head traumas, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Severe burns
- Spinal injuries, including paralysis
- Hearing loss
- Neck, shoulder, and back injuries
- Eye injuries, including vision or eye loss
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Exposure to toxins and hazardous chemicals
Considering the serious and painful nature of the injuries that many oil field workers face, it's hard to fault them for taking advantage of the pain-relief option their doctor prescribed. Unfortunately, for some injured oil field workers, what was intended to be a medication to help them through the initial healing and recovery process becomes an object of addiction and abuse.
Addressing Opioid Abuse in the Oil and Gas Industries
While the potential for serious injury makes completely forbidding opioid use among oil field workers somewhat unrealistic, there are still some things that those in the oil and gas industry can do to address the growing epidemic of opioid abuse.
For example, some experts suggest oil field employers or a company liaison stay in contact with injured workers during their recoveries, potentially making it possible to spot a developing dependence on pain medications. Oil and gas employers could also choose doctors to treat their injured workers who are specifically committed to using a wide variety of rehabilitation techniques.
Most importantly, employers must make sure that an injured employee's prescription opioid use is under control and not affecting his or her judgment before returning to work in the oil field.
Workers' Compensation vs. Personal Injury Lawsuit
Texas law doesn't require employers to offer injured employees workers' compensation benefits. However, where available, injured oil field workers may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and wages lost while out of work recovering.
Injured oil field workers who don't have access to workers' compensation benefits may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party that caused the accident and resulting injuries. While a personal injury lawsuit does require the plaintiff to prove negligence, it allows them to seek a broader range of damages than would have been available through workers' compensation.
An Oil Field Accident Attorney You Can Trust
Injured in an oil field accident caused by employer or co-worker negligence? Let McGartland Law Firm's award-winning attorneys help you fight for the financial recovery you deserve. Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation.