The United States has become one of the largest producers of oil in the world, and much of that oil production happens right here in Texas.
Thousands of Texans earn their living working these oil fields.
Yet some companies don’t employ basic safety standards, fully train workers, and most don’t take responsibility when things go wrong.
This has contributed to a disturbing statistic showing that oilfield workers are 7 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries on the job than in other professions.
If you have been injured on the job, you need an oil field injury attorney who understands how companies and their insurers operate when one of their employees is injured. At Sutliff & Stout, we have over a decade of experience helping injured oilfield workers recover millions in damages. If you’ve suffered an injury on the job, give us a call at (713) 987-7111 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Not ready to speak with a qualified oilfield injury lawyer? Read on to gain a better understanding of your best course of action.
When Should You Hire an Oil Field Injury Lawyer?
The general rule of thumb is that the more serious your injuries are, the greater the need for a personal injury lawyer. The claims process is not easy.
It should be, but most companies desire to put profit over the person causes unnecessary red tape and unfair treatment to those who do not have the proper representation.
Furthermore, insurance companies are for-profit entities. Every claim against their policy eats into their profit margin. They are incentivized to try to pay as little as possible on your claim.
How does this happen? There are a number of different ways an insurance company can avoid paying out on a claim.
Often, they will try to say that the accident was your fault or the fault of someone else. They can do this because, at this point, they’re holding all the cards. They have the money and you need them to honor your claim.
Even when your employer or their insurance company conduct an investigation into the accident, they have been known to suppress evidence that indicates their own fault or responsibility.
Your recourse in this matter is an attorney who is advocating for your interests. If you hire the right attorney, he or she will conduct an independent investigation and gather evidence to hold the proper party responsible.
One reason the insurance company wants to blame you for the accident is that Texas applies a comparative fault state. Comparative fault or comparative negligence is when the jury is asked to determine who all is to blame for an accident that results in an injury.
In Texas, if the plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault then he or she gets nothing. The entire battle is thus over where the blame lies – with you or with the company.
On What Grounds Can My Company’s Insurance Deny My Claim?
Injury settlements in oilfield accidents tend to be large. Workers end up with severe permanent scarring from burns, amputated limbs, paralysis, and a spine related injuries. These injuries can make it difficult for you to return to work.
In other words, you can lose your ability to support yourself and your family. The stakes are incredibly high for you.
They are also high for your employer and their insurance company. The insurance company stands to potentially lose a large sum of money and your company exposes itself to other lawsuits, higher insurance costs, and potential liability should they be found negligent.
This is one of the many reasons the company’s own internal investigation cannot always be trusted. They will attempt to lay the blame at your feet.
Common Offshore and Oilfield Injuries
Some of the most common offshore and onshore oilfield injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal injuries
- Broken bones
- scarring and disfigurement
- Knee and hand injuries
The vast majority of injuries that occur are easily prevented by implementing basic safety standards and adequately training employees. In the majority of cases, when something goes wrong it’s because the oil company did not adequately devote resources to ensure workplace safety.
Why are Injuries So Prevalent for Oilfield and Offshore Workers?
There are a number of reasons why oilfield workers are 7 times more likely to die on the job than other workers. The same reasons account for the high volume of employees who are injured on the job. These include:
- Lack of proper training and supervision,
- Lack of safety equipment,
- Outdated industrial equipment.
Common Types of Oilfield Accidents
In our practice, we’ve seen a number of clients who have been injured in all of the following oilfield or offshore accidents:
- Pipeline explosions,
- Pipe related incidents
- Chemical burns
- Trucking accidents
- And well blowouts.
In addition, oilfield workers are at increased risk for other mundane workplace accidents including:;
- Work-related vehicle accidents,
- Poorly maintained worksites,
- Electrical malfunctions,
- Malfunctioning or poorly maintained equipment.
I Was Injured on the Job. What Should I Do?
As soon as the injury occurs, you should report it to a supervisor and ask to seek immediate medical treatment.
If your employer’s insurance company gives you a hard time about treatment, you can recruit the aid of a personal injury attorney who is familiar with oilfield injury cases.
Generally speaking, you can also pursue damages against the company that injured you when they are shown to have been negligent. There are some exceptions to this rule so we suggest you contact a qualified oilfield injury lawyer to evaluate your particular situation.
If the at fault company is using outdated equipment, subcontracting jobs to unskilled workers, or have failed to implement basic workplace safety standards, then you may be able to hold them responsible for your injuries.
In addition, there may be another party who is responsible. For instance, the manufacturer of the machinery that your company uses may have created a defective product. In that case, you can sue the company that manufactured your company’s equipment.
When Should I Contact an Oilfield Injury Lawyer?
The statute of limitations in Texas for personal injury claims is two years. Logistically, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. It keeps everything fresh in your mind and gives those who might have reason to lie or bury evidence less time to get their stories straight.
Determining Legal Responsibility in an Oilfield Accident
There are a number of complexities when determining legal responsibility in an oilfield accident.
First, if your employer or co-worker is a fault for the injury, you must determine if you are covered by workers’ compensation. If not, are you subject to a company plan that requires arbitration? This area of the law is quickly changing as companies seek out other ways to increase their profit margins so be sure to find a lawyer that understands the complexity of your particular claim.
In some instances, neither you nor your employer is responsible for your injuries. It could be the result of defective machinery or some other third party. In this case, you can file a third party claim against the negligent party.
How Do I Know If I Have a Strong Oilfield Injury Case?
The best way to determine if you have a case is to contact an oilfield injury attorney. Even when your company honors your workers’ compensation claim, you may have cause to to bring a claim against some other third party that caused or contributed to your injuries.
If your company does not have workers’ compensation insurance then, in some instances, you can also initiate a lawsuit against your employer to recover damages. In addition, if the faulty design of equipment that your company was using is responsible for your injuries, you can assert a product defect claim against the company who manufactured the product.
It remains true, however, that your best course of action is to talk to an oilfield injury attorney. At Sutliff & Stout, our consultations are free and we work on contingency. That means we don’t charge you attorney fees unless we win.
Do I Need an Attorney with Specific Experience Handling Oilfield Injury Cases?
You do. The reason for that is that oilfield workers work in a highly specialized industry and there could very easily be several liable parties. On top of that, oilfield companies will conduct internal investigations but those cannot be relied upon to be accurate. An independent third-party evaluation is absolutely crucial to determining the cause of your oilfield accident.
We have seen many cases in which oilfield companies have buried evidence of wrongdoing and maliciously blamed employees for accidents they were not responsible for. We will conduct our own investigation, determine what we believe occurred and bring claims against those responsible for your injuries.
Contact an Experience Oilfield Injury Lawyer Today
The oilfield injury lawyers at Sutliff and Stout have successfully litigated most types of oilfield injury lawsuits. We have helped our clients get treated fairly and have held at fault companies responsible for their actions.
If you’ve been injured, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced oilfield attorney today. Our consultations are free. Give us a call and we will begin working on your case immediately.