High production demands, a hurried environment, little–to–no margin for error, and the potential for catastrophic accidents make oil fields some of the most dangerous workplaces in America. Although the oil and gas extraction industry is regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), whether this regulation has improved the safety for oil field workers is debatable.
From 2003 to 2010, the oil and gas extraction industry had an on-the-job fatality rate that was seven times that of other industries and, while these numbers have slightly improved in the years since, OSHA reports that as many as 4,000 oil field workers are injured in the workplace each year.
After an oil field accident, workers may be seriously injured or, depending on the severity of the injury, even permanently disabled. Fortunately, injured oil field workers have legal recourse. If you were involved in an oil field accident and are considering seeking compensation for your injuries, here's what you need to know.
Common Oil Field Accidents and Injuries
Out on oil fields, even the smallest, seemingly harmless mistakes can lead to deadly workplace accidents. For example, workers might lose their footing and fall from a drilling rig, slip on a wet platform or walkway, or be struck by a falling piece of drilling equipment. Common oil field accidents include:
- Equipment defects and malfunctions
- Oil and gas truck accidents
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Scaffolding, deck or rig collapses
- Weather-related accidents
These common oil field accidents can cause any number of injuries. However, some oil field injuries are more common than others. The following is a list of oil field injuries that doctors and personal injury attorneys see on a regular basis:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Severe burns
- Broken or crushed bones
- Hearing loss
- Neck, shoulder, and back injuries
- Eye injuries
- Vision loss
- Eye loss
- Spinal injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Respiratory issues
Personal Injury Lawsuits vs. Workers' Compensation Claims
After an oil field accident, many employers think that filing a workers' compensation claim is the only way to get compensation for their injuries. Fortunately for injured oil field workers, that often isn't the case. Workers' compensation only covers out-of-pocket medical costs, rehabilitation fees, lost wages, and disability—and sometimes it doesn't even fully cover these expenses. Non-economic losses such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and anxiety or depression aren't covered by workers' compensation.
However, the nature of working in an oil field is that employees often end up side-by-side with people from a variety of different companies. If a worker is injured in an accident caused by the negligence of someone who's employed with another company, this creates the potential for the injured individuals to file a personal injury lawsuit, in addition to their workers' compensation claims.
Common Compensation in Oil Field Accidents
Injured oil field workers who file personal injury lawsuits can potentially seek compensation for:
- Medical bills (including medical-related travel expenses)
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disability
Were You Injured in an Oil Field Accident?
If you were seriously injured in an oil field accident caused by another person's negligence on the job, you may be eligible for compensation. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you explore your legal options and determine what kinds of compensation might be applicable in your particular case.
Have questions about a potential oil field accident case? Members of McGartland Law's skilled legal team are standing by to answer your questions. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation initial consultation of your case.