The oil and gas industry is consistently featured at the top of the world's most dangerous professions. Thousands of oil field workers are injured or even killed in workplace accidents each year. As a whole, the industry has a dismal fatality rate that's nearly seven times greater than other industries in the United States.
From 2003 to 2013, the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry doubled its workforce. During this boom, the fatality rate for oil field workers soared. The industry reported a total of 1,189 deaths: an increase of 27.6 percent compared to previous data, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite the hazards, workers brave oil fields day in and day out in order to provide for their families.
When workers die in tragic oil field accidents, they often leave behind people who were dependent on them for financial support. As a result, many survivors are forced to face concerns about how they'll make ends meet while their grief is still raw.
If you lost a loved one in an oil field accident caused by someone else's negligent actions, you may be eligible to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Here's what you need to know.
What Makes Oil Field Accidents So Deadly?
Oil fields are fast-paced workplaces with potential hazards around every corner. The problem of the harried working environment is made worse by production quotas. When people feel pressured to work quickly, they can make mistakes and, out on the oil field, anything less than precision can lead to injuries or fatalities.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of death among oil and gas extraction employees. These fatal oil field accidents happen most often while workers are inserting or removing drill pipes or during other rigging procedures.
Other common causes of fatal oilfield accidents include:
- Falling objects
- Oxygen deficiency
- Exposure to toxic gasses and vapors
- Bursting pipes
- Caught in or between machinery
- Vehicle accidents
Determining Liability in Fatal Oil Field Accidents
In many cases, the fault for the fatal oil field accident lies not with the victim, but with employers or coworkers. After a death in the oil field, determining liability can be more difficult than it seems. Oil field workers often handle tasks side-by-side with employees from other companies, independent contractors, and other third parties. Sometimes more than one party may be liable. A knowledgeable attorney with experience handling oil field accident cases can conduct a thorough investigation to determine the appropriate party to name in a potential wrongful death lawsuit.
Fatal oil field accidents can be caused by:
- Unsafe working environments
- Defective oil field equipment
- Poorly-maintained oil and gas transportation vehicles
- Safety violations or disabled safety mechanisms
- Collapsing decks and rigs
Wrongful Death Eligibility and Compensation
Wrongful death lawsuits allow a decedent's family members or financial dependents seek compensation for end-of-life expenses, including hospital care, funeral, and burial/cremation services. Additional damages in wrongful death cases may include a monetary award for the decedent's pain and suffering, past and future lost earnings, loss of household or family services, mental and emotional anguish, loss of economic support, diminished inheritance, loss of companionship and guidance, loss of consortium (for spouses), and other factors.
However, not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. The law limits this legal option to spouses, life or domestic partners, biological or adopted children, parents of unmarried minors, siblings, grandparents, and other financial dependents.
Do You Need Help Pursuing an Oil Field Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The award-winning legal team with McGartland Law can answer any questions you may have about a potential oil field wrongful death lawsuit. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.