Texas Oilfield Accident Lawyers

Any occupation that is performed outdoors and around complex equipment is dangerous work. Oilfield work is no exception since workers are exposed to falls, explosions, toxic chemicals and other factors leading to tragedy for the oilfield worker and their families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4,000 oil and gas workers are injured each year with more than 100 fatalities.

Oilfield workers include roughnecks, tool pushers, drillers, welders, roustabouts, welders, derrick men and crane operators. Many of these jobs are labor intensive.

  • Roughneck - this is the most common type. Roughnecks work on and around drilling rigs and platforms and include repairing rig problems, carrying pipes and parts, changing drill fittings and operating the equipment including running the connecting pipe down the well shaft.
  • Tool pusher - the tool pusher supervises the drilling team. They are also called rig masters.
  • Driller - the driller is responsible for the machinery and outfitting and ensuring that the equipment is working properly.
  • Derrick hand - these workers are responsible for the drilling mud, a mixture used in drilling gas and oil wells for lubrication.
  • Welders - there are pipe and structural welders. A pipe welder may fit the pipe before welding. This is a physically demanding job and can be very dangerous.

As is evident, all of these jobs present constant dangers to workers. Despite harsh conditions and the constant demands placed on these workers, employers and oil companies must provide a safe working environment for all its employees.

Causes of Oilfield Injuries

Because of the presence of so much equipment and machinery, much of it complicated and requiring trained personnel to operate it, and with workers from different specialties operating in the same location or work site, oilfield workers are exposed to a variety of conditions that can lead to injuries:

  • Toxic fume exposure
  • Explosions
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Fires
  • Inadequate training
  • Lack of supervision
  • Faulty communication between operators and workers
  • Defective equipment, tools or machinery
  • Negligent operation of equipment
  • Violations of safety policies and procedures
  • Falls from heights and into holes
  • Falling objects
  • Fatigue
  • Inattention

Oilfield workers are often ill-treated. Forced to work long hours without rest and under pressure to implement repairs and to produce results, a worker may take unnecessary chances, drive other workers to work harder or faster or ignore safety protocols. Inexperienced and untrained workers are hired who are even more susceptible to injury and to fail to appreciate safety measures or to act to avoid harming other workers.

Safety regulations and guidelines are established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a violation of those standards can be a basis for compensation in some cases. Oil companies also need to have their own safety policies and procedures in place.

Oilfield Injuries

The injuries that these workers can suffer include:

  • Loss of limbs from equipment entanglement and explosions
  • Disfigurement from fires and chemicals
  • Internal injuries
  • Electrocution
  • Eye damage

Safe monitoring and safety training can help prevent injuries. Still, there are always inattentive workers, those on drugs or alcohol, or defective equipment that can injure and kill workers.

The Liability of Oil Companies and Other Parties

Workers' Compensation

Texas law does not require employers to have workers' compensation insurance for their employers. If an oilfield company does have such coverage, you need only prove you were injured in the course and scope of your employment to recover benefits for medical expenses, lost earnings and for any permanent disability or death benefits for your family based on state guidelines. You must not have been intoxicated when injured or have been fooling around.

Workers' compensation does not award compensation for pain and suffering and is limited in other areas as well. Workers' compensation insurers can deny you benefits, delay them or cut them off at a certain point. At this point, you need to retain the services of oilfield accident attorney who can protect your rights and claim for benefits.

Employer and Third Party Liability

If your employer did not have workers' compensation insurance or your injury was caused by the negligence of another subcontractor or by defective equipment, you can bring a lawsuit against your employer or a third party action against the subcontracting company or the designer and manufacturer of the defective equipment or machinery. These lawsuits do allow you to recover for pain and suffering.

For these claims, you do have to prove your employer or some other party was negligent in causing your injuries. For instance, a defectively designed tool or machine may have caused your injury, or substandard material was used causing you to fall or be struck by a heavy object. A product designer or manufacturer has a legal obligation to produce a safe product for its intended use such as safety guards or accessible shutoff mechanisms, or to warn users of known risks. If a product had a defect in its manufacture or assembly that caused your injury, it may be considered unreasonably dangerous.

Your employer or third party also must provide a safe working environment and adequately supervise and monitor its employees including having regular safety meetings.

Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP - Oilfield Injury Attorneys

Oilfield accidents involve various issues regarding insurance coverage, liability and proof of causation. A thorough knowledge of the oil industry, safety regulations and product liability law is essential if you want the compensation to which you are entitled.

The Austin personal injury attorneys at Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP have extensive experience with oilfield accidents and have had outstanding success in obtaining for our clients the compensation they deserve. For over 50 years, our dedicated attorneys have made responsible parties accountable to our clients and brought justice to victims of poor management policies, safety violations, faulty product design or manufacture and other types of negligent or unlawful conduct.

If you or a loved one were injured in an oilfield accident by the negligent or wrongful conduct of another person or entity, call us today at 512-593-7650 for a no cost, no obligation consultation.