Odessa Oilfield Injury Lawyer
The Odessa American reported that after oil industry employment peaked at 57,179, a brief decline was followed by a recovery that brought on 38,249 workers and an increased rig count of 238 from 122 the prior year. Many people come to Odessa specifically to work in the oil industry, but the jobs carry certain risks, and any person who suffers injuries on the job in the oil industry will want to hire an Odessa oilfield injury lawyer.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private mining industry was responsible for 155 fatal occupational injuries in the most recent reporting period, and oil and gas extraction industries had 70 percent of those fatalities. Texas not only had the highest employment figures in the oil and gas industry but also the highest number of fatalities.
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Causes of Oilfield Injuries
People working in oilfields must deal with a significant number of daily risks inherent to their jobs, and employers have a responsibility to ensure their workplaces are as safe as possible for the employees. Even when proper precautions are taken, there are still a great many accidents that can occur because of various factors.
Undoubtedly one of the most frequent kinds of accidents on an oilfield site are explosions and fires. Many oilfield workers have to work with open flames, static electricity, and various other heated elements, as well as fire starters that might ignite flammable gasses on trucks, wells, and tanks.
An explosion or fire poses a risk for every employee on a worksite because the incidents can potentially spread and endanger several other people. Severe burn injuries can cause disfigurement.
Some of the other kinds of accidents oil workers may be involved in could include, but are not limited to:
- Slip and Fall Accidents — Oil work means employees often have to deal with loose footing. When workers are performing their jobs at considerable heights, then falls from heights have the potential to be fatal.
- Equipment Failures or Defective Equipment — Oilfield employers have an obligation to ensure the equipment their workers are using has been properly maintained and will be safe to use. The employees also must receive proper training, so they know how to operate heavy machinery. If this equipment fails because of a defective part or an employer does not maintain the equipment properly, it can lead to an issue, causing an accident resulting in serious injuries.
- Hazardous Chemicals and Fumes — Oilfield work can involve exposure to a number of different chemicals, such as silica, benzene, hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide, asbestos, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and xylene. Many workers can contract illnesses from inhaling these chemicals, although certain diseases may not manifest themselves until several years after a worker concludes their employment.
- Well Blowouts — Blowouts are uncontrolled releases of crude oil or natural gas from oil or gas wells when the pressure control systems fail. Many modern wells have blowout preventers that intend to prevent these occurrences, but accidental sparks during blowouts could lead to fires.
- Electrocutions — Many oil workers are doing their jobs in the vicinity of various electrical components, such as power lines, and it is easy for such workers to accidentally come into contact with objects causing electrical shocks.
- Employee Fatigue — Many oilfield workers put in long days on the job because so many oilfield companies are operating 24 hours a day. When somebody works more than 12 hours in a given day, exhaustion is a natural symptom and can lead to the worker possibly causing an accident that harms other employees.
- Improper Training — While many oil companies make conscious efforts to hire only the people who have the necessary knowledge and experience to do oil jobs, there are some companies that take chances by bringing on workers who lack the necessary qualifications. A person who is not as familiar with certain types of equipment or procedures can be more likely to commit mistakes that jeopardize the safety of other people on the job site.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies several standards pertaining to the oil and gas extraction industry. Employers can become liable for accidents when they fail to follow these guidelines, possibly because of such incidents as:
- Failure to maintain equipment
- Improper scaffolding or rig construction
- Failure to comply with safety requirements
- Failure to provide workers with safety equipment
- Failure to properly communicate safety procedures
- Failure to properly train employees
Many injuries on oilfield sites stem from transportation incidents because oilfield workers often have to drive on the job. Some of the causes of transportation accidents may include, but are not limited to:
- Driver Fatigue — There is little doubt that many oilfield workers have put in long days on the job and can be more subject to exhaustion than other drivers. Certain workers who have spent long days on the job can be more likely to doze off or even fall asleep behind the wheel and cause accidents.
- Speeding — Anybody driving a large oilfield truck or other vehicle at a speed in excess of a posted speed limit may not be able to come to a complete stop when the need suddenly arises. The result can be a devastating collision causing severe injuries.
- Unsecured or Uneven Loads — Certain oilfield vehicles will be hauling large loads of materials, and failure to properly secure the loads can lead to a driver losing control of their vehicle or loose loads falling off vehicles.
- Distracted Driving — People who are operating oilfield vehicles need to dedicate their attention to driving, but some employees may be talking or texting on cell phones, adjusting stereos within vehicles, or engaging in any number of other distractions that take their eyes off the road and cause serious accidents.
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) — While alcohol and drugs might not be common on most oilfield sites, there can be occasions in which some workers will partake in these activities outside of work and then return to their job while attempting to drive. A DWI can lead to enhanced criminal charges when an intoxicated driver causes an accident resulting in serious injury or death.
- Driver Inexperience — There can often be people who simply lack the knowledge about how to properly operate large oilfield vehicles, and their inexperience can pose a risk to other employees or drivers.
- Poor Maintenance — Not all motor vehicle accidents necessarily stem from a driver error but are instead attributable to some kind of issue with the vehicle itself. In such cases, an employer could be liable for not properly caring for the vehicle.
Common Oilfield Accident Injuries
Following any kind of oilfield accident, it is always important for a victim to quickly obtain necessary medical attention. Even if you do not think you were hurt, you still want to have a doctor review your health and also secure a medical record proving that you took the proper steps to follow up on your accident.
One debilitating type of injury can be eye injuries, some of which may cause vision loss. A person who suffers an eye injury can face significant challenges with every aspect of their daily life moving forward.
Some of the other types of injuries oilfield workers could suffer can include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Severe burn injuries
- Neck injuries
- Head injuries
- Back injuries
- Torn shoulder muscles and tendons
- Severed limbs and amputations
- Sternum and chest injuries
- Bruised or fractured ribs
- Skull fractures
- Herniated discs
- Sprains and strains
- Internal organ damage
- Hearing damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Limb loss
Abrasions and lacerations
- Abdominal wall injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Intestinal injuries
- Nerve damage
If an oilfield worker dies on the job, a wrongful death claim could be necessary for the family that is left behind. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.004 stipulates that only surviving spouses, children, and parents of the deceased can file wrongful death actions.
Damages in Oilfield Accident Cases
Many oilfield workers who suffer injuries on the job are entitled to file workers’ compensation claims, but the benefits will be limited to only a portion of their lost income and medical bills. Even when a person does obtain workers’ compensation, the amount of the award can still leave much to be desired.
While workers’ compensation will prevent you from filing a civil claim against your employer, it may be possible that another negligent party in your case does not enjoy the same protection. You will want to work with an Odessa oilfield injury lawyer for help determining if another party could be liable for your injuries.
Most civil actions result in settlements because the insurance companies covering the negligent parties do not want to pay the costs of going to trial. Should a case actually reach a trial, then a jury may award compensatory damages, which usually involve both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are your tangible and provable financial losses. Non-economic damages are losses that are much more subjective.
One economic damage could be the cost of your rehabilitation expenses. Many injured oilfield workers will require rehabilitation to try and regain their original abilities.
Other kinds of economic damages may include:
- Lost Wages
- Medical Bills
- Physical Therapy Costs
- Property Damage
- Costs of Long-Term Care
When it comes to non-economic damages, one common kind of these damages can be loss of consortium. This type of damage relates to a victim’s loss of companionship or sexual relationship with their significant other because of their injuries.
Other kinds of non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Mental Anguish
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Physical Impairment
- Loss of Companionship and Society
- Injury to Reputation
- Physical Limitations
Another kind of damages in a much more limited number of cases is punitive damages, which the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code refers to as exemplary damages. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.008, exemplary damages cannot be more than two times the economic damages plus an amount equal to any non-economic damages up to $750,000 or $200,000, whichever is greater.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Odessa Oilfield Injury Lawyer
If you suffer severe injuries or your loved one dies on the job in the oil industry in Odessa, you are going to want to be quick to retain legal counsel for assistance in recovering maximum compensation for your injury claim. The Patel Firm represents all kinds of oilfield workers throughout Texas, and we have years of experience helping these employees achieve justice for their injury claims.
Our firm will be able to conduct a thorough independent investigation into your accident so we can secure the evidence necessary to prove your case. Call (432) 217-1197 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation with our Odessa oilfield injury lawyer.