Waco, TX Oilfield Injuries Lawyers Defending the Rights of Oilfield Workers
Many people in the Waco area and all around Texas have jobs working in the oilfields. These jobs are steady due to the world’s constant demand for oil and petroleum-based products, and can provide workers and their families with a solid income. But there can also be a dark side to the oil and gas industries. The nature of the work can be challenging and dangerous and expose workers to hazards caused by large machinery, fires, explosions, and other catastrophic events. Even at oil fields that observe proper safety protocols, sometimes things can go horribly wrong and workers can end up severely injured or killed. The injuries caused by oilfield accidents can impact a worker for the rest of their lives. Workers’ compensation cannot always adequately reimburse the employee for their pain and suffering, and some employers will actively attempt to dissuade them from collecting the benefits they deserve. This is why you need an experienced firm like For the Win Law handling your case. We will help you get the medical treatment you need and will fight to get you justice and fair compensation.
What Are Common Oilfield Accidents?
Oil field accidents are unfortunately quite common, with thousands of oil field workers being injured every year across the country and hundreds sadly dying. This may also be an underestimate, because some companies actively discourage workers from reporting injuries or filing workers’ compensation claims. There is often great pressure on workers to meet drilling deadlines at all costs, which can lead to burnout for employees and corner cutting which increases the likelihood of accidents. Inadequately trained workers or workers who do not communicate well with one another can also put employees at risk of severe injuries, especially when they are working around large machinery and hazardous materials nearly every day. Some examples of oilfield accidents which can occur under these conditions are:
- Being hit by falling objects
- Collapses of confined spaces
- Crushing accidents involving heavy piping and other large objects
- Drilling accidents
- Exposure to hazardous material
- Fracking accidents
- Inhalation of dangerous fumes, including carbon monoxide
- Machinery and equipment malfunctions or failures
- Oil and gas refinery accidents
- Oil well blowouts
- Personal protection equipment failures
- Poisoning incidents
- Slips and falls, including falls from heights
- Structural failures leading to oil rig collapse
- Truck crashes, rollovers, and other transportation accidents
- Welding accidents
What Types of Injuries Can Oilfield Workers Experience?
With all the moving parts involved in oilfield operations, from building and drilling, to trucking and maintenance, and everything in between, it is no surprise that oilfield workers have some of the highest rates of on-the-job injuries of any profession. Because an oilfield can be such a dangerous place to work, oilfield accidents can create injuries which are often more severe than those experienced by workers in other fields. Some oil field injuries experienced by employees include:
- Brain injuries resulting from lack of oxygen or inhaling dangerous chemicals
- Broken bones and bone fractures
- Burns from fire, electrocution, or chemicals
- Crush injuries
- Dental injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Eye and vision injuries
- Facial damage and disfigurement
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions
- Hearing loss and tinnitus
- Lacerations and contusions
- Lung damage and long term respiratory issues
- Neck and back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Severed limbs
- Spinal cord damage, including full or partial paralysis
- Torn tendons, muscles, and ligaments
- Wrongful death
What Steps Should You Take if You’ve Been Injured in an Oilfield Accident?
Your first priority after an accident should be ensuring your safety and well being. If your injuries are severe, you should contact 911 and follow whatever procedures your employer has in place for handling emergencies. You may be too hurt to follow all of these steps, but if you or an individual you trust are able to take some of them immediately after your accident, it can set you up to have a better chance at receiving the compensation you need for your injuries:
- Report your accident to a supervisor: As soon as possible after your incident, make your employer aware of your accident and injuries. If you don’t report your accident in a timely manner it could severely damage your case and much of the evidence of your accident may be lost. You or your supervisor will likely prepare an accident report with statements of what occurred. They may also begin your workers’ compensation claim process with the state if your employer has chosen to carry workers compensation insurance.
- Take photos: If you or someone you trust are able to document the accident scene, it can provide crucial information. Take photos from different angles. Video can also be helpful. Record anything relevant to your accident, such as safety equipment, damaged machinery, warning signs, and more.
- Get information from anyone involved in or witnessing the accident: If coworkers or anyone else witnessed the accident, get their contact information. If any third parties, such as subcontractors, vendors, truck drivers, independent equipment operators, or others not employed by your company were involved in the accident, collect their contact and insurance information.
- Seek medical evaluation: Do not tell supervisors or coworkers you are ok after your oil field accident, even if you feel relatively uninjured, as this could be used against you later. Always get evaluated by a physician as soon as you can. Some injuries, especially to the neck and back, may not become obvious until several days or even weeks after the accident. This is why it is always important to get examined by a doctor promptly, even if only appear to have minor injuries. The examination can lead to earlier treatment, preventing you from potentially causing more damage and experiencing more pain. The prompt examination and identification of your injuries can also definitively tie them to your accident and not allow your employer or their insurance company to argue that they were caused by something else.
- Contact an oilfield accident attorney: You may find yourself being pushed by your employer and their insurance to make rapid decisions about how your oilfield accident compensation is handled. Time is often not on your side as the statute of limitations on these cases is only two years, but you have rights in this situation and it is important to understand them. Before you agree to any settlement or compensation, or make any written or recorded statements to an insurance company, contact an experienced oilfield accident lawyer for a free consultation. We can advise you on what further steps to take.
Should You File a Workers Compensation Claim or a Personal Injury Claim?
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be eligible to file both. The first thing our law firm will do is ensure you have filed for and received the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. These benefits are available to some oilfield accident victims through their employer and can be awarded regardless of who was at fault for the accident.We can gather the necessary information for a workers’ compensation claim and file it on your behalf. If you have already filed a claim and had it denied, we will submit an appeal. Once a law firm is involved, it often results in finally receiving your compensation. Workers’ compensation benefits generally cover your current medical bills and a percentage of your lost wages. If you are permanently unable to resume your current job due to your injuries, it may also pay for training for a new position.
Although workers compensation is often financially helpful, it rarely covers all the expenses incurred from an accident, does not give compensation for non-economic injuries like disfigurement and loss of quality of life, and may not be available to you if your loved one perished in the accident. Additionally, Texas employers are not required by state law to carry workers compensation insurance, so it may not be an option for you. If your employer does not subscribe to workers’ compensation, you will need to make a claim against their private insurance plan. Unfortunately private insurance companies are for-profit businesses, so they are not interested in making sure you and your family are properly taken care of after your oilfield accident, instead they are concerned about maximizing their profits. If you are struggling to get fair compensation from your employer’s private insurance, it may be time to enlist the help of a law firm who is experienced in representing victims of oil field injuries.
A personal injury lawsuit is an option for injured workers, even those who have already collected workers compensation benefits. However, for a case to be viable, there are some conditions which must be met. If an employer carries workers’ compensation insurance they are generally shielded from personal injury claims, unless the accident was the result of intentional or malicious actions on their part. There is also the possibility that a third party could be responsible for your injuries. Examples of third parties involved in the oil and gas industry can include: equipment manufacturers, architects and builders of rigs, and independent trucking companies. If one or more of these entities is found to be at fault for your oil field injury, a third party liability lawsuit may be filed. If your employer chooses to not carry workers compensation you may be eligible to bring a lawsuit against them. To successfully sue your employer, you must prove that someone acted in a negligent manner and that action caused your injury. If you’ve experienced an oilfield accident, it is important to contact knowledgeable oilfield accident attorneys as soon as possible to learn more about your options for getting justice from those responsible.
What Compensation May You Be Eligible for if You File a Claim?
If you have a viable personal injury claim, there are two main types of damages an oilfield accident attorney may secure for you. The first is actual compensatory damages. These compensate you for actual financial losses that occurred as a result of your injury, for which you likely already have the bills. Examples of this kind of compensation include:
- Expenses for ER visits and surgeries
- Lost wages
- Health insurance copays
- Medical equipment
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Prescription medications
- Transportation costs to and from doctor visits
General compensatory damages are non-monetary losses you suffered from the accident. While these losses are a little more challenging to place a dollar amount on, the courts have formulas for calculating these damages. In general, the more severe your injuries are and the longer they have affected or will continue to affect you, the greater your compensation will be. Common examples of general compensatory damages are:
- Emotional distress
- Future medical expenses for long-term injuries
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of future earning potential
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Texas also allows punitive damages, although there is an upper limit on the amount the court can impose. If the accident was caused by particularly egregious negligent behavior, the court may decide in rare cases to order the defendant to pay punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are meant to dissuade others from acting in the same manner as the defendant.
If your loved one tragically died as a result an oilfield accident, wrongful death or survival claims may be filed. A wrongful death claim may be filed by any survivor of the victim who suffered financial loss from their passing and seeks compensation for these losses. A survival claim is a separate legal action and is basically a personal injury lawsuit filed on behalf of the deceased individual. If your loved one survived the accident, but passed away later, you may be compensated for the pain and suffering they felt, any medical bills they incurred, and funeral and burial expenses. It is best to contact an oilfield injuries lawyer to guide you through which courses of action are appropriate for your unique situation.
Why Hire an Oilfield Accident Lawyer?
The time following an oilfield accident can be a whirlwind of doctor appointments, rehab, figuring out how to pay bills, and potentially handling mounting pressure from your employer to return to work. It can feel overwhelming. You need a law firm on your side to protect your rights and help you recover fair compensation for your injuries. Without an experienced lawyer assisting you, your employer, their insurance company, and their legal counsel may try to blame you for the accident, avoid collecting evidence for your accident or actively destroy it, attempt to limit you to only filing for workers’ compensation benefits, and possibly even terminate your employment at the first legal opportunity in order to avoid compensating you for the injuries you’ve suffered. When employers have opted out of workers’ compensation insurance and rely on private insurers, those insurance companies can force you to see only their approved doctors, so you may not get the quality medical attention you need to heal properly. They may offer you a lowball settlement and try to pressure you into accepting it, while discouraging you from seeking legal help. You deserve better. The skilled attorneys at For the Win Law will thoroughly investigate your case to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits and compensation to which you are entitled and we will be here for you through every step of the process. If you or a loved one have been harmed by an oilfield accident, contact us today for a completely confidential, free consultation: (254) 870-4800.