Written By: Attorney Sam Thomas
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Oil and gas production is a staple of the economy for many states, especially Texas. While the United States is slowly shifting to greener forms of fuel, the demand for oil and gas production is still great. With that, working the oilfields is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that in the most recent growth period in the industry, between 2003 and 2013, work-related fatalities increased by nearly 30% resulting in 1,189 deaths. The oil and gas production industry steadily remains roughly five times more dangerous than the national average for workplace-related injuries.
If you have been injured in an oilfield accident, contact the attorneys of Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we are unable to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
WHAT CAUSES OILFIELD RELATED INJURIES?
When working on the oilfields of West Texas, the risk of injury is all around you. According to the Texas Tribune, Texas led all states with 1,566 oilfield fatalities between 2008 and 2017. But why?
Injuries from working in this industry may vary from case to case, but some of the common forms of injury include:
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Fires and explosions
- Falling from elevated surfaces
- Being struck by falling objects
- Getting caught in or in between heavy machinery and equipment;
- Working in confined spaces
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals and fumes
- Faulty or inherently dangerous equipment
- Coworker negligence
Additional factors include working long hard hours while being exposed to both high heat and frigidly cold temperatures. Workers are placed into an inherently dangerous position working with highly flammable liquids, gases, and fumes being removed from the earth under a tremendous amount of pressure. The industry requires a variety of different types of complex heavy machinery and equipment to be operated simultaneously and in harmony. This is a dangerous proposition from the start that that cannot be easily avoided.
Because the majority of oil fields are located in vacant or desolate areas, motor vehicle crashes and collisions have long been the leading cause of injury and death in the oil and gas production industry. The requirement to work long hard hours while traveling great distances in between work sites leads to a large number of avoidable crashes that an injury or kill entire teams of workers.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM INJURED IN AN OILFIELD ACCIDENT?
As stated above, working on the oilfields of West Texas can lead to serious injuries. Despite the efforts of regulators, employers, and the United States Government, the number of oilfield related injuries continues to be very high. After being injured in the oilfield, you will be faced with a difficult process for not only treating your injures but in dealing with your ability to work and navigate the legal system to ensure you are compensated appropriately for your injuries. To help navigate this process, the following steps can be taken to help ensure that you take the necessary steps to cover your bases.
1. Report the Incident to Your Employer
It is crucial to inform your employer of the accident or incident immediately after it has taken place. Not only can failure to report your accident result in you losing your job, but you may also be losing vital evidence if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim down the road. Documenting the incident in writing as close to when it happened provides a clear and accurate narrative of what happened and why it happened.
Many employers in the oil and gas production industry have accident and incident reports to help document work-related incidents. It is important to be honest and thorough when filling out these reports. No piece of information is too small to be left out of your report. If your employer does not have a stock incident or accident report, write a report of your own stating: when the incident took place, where the incident took place, who was involved, injuries sustained, and a narrative of the events that led up to the incident.
2. Seek Medical Treatment, if Needed
After reporting the incident to your employer and documenting the incident, the next step is to get your injuries treated and evaluated by an independent medical provider. It is essential to get your injuries diagnosed and documented as soon as possible after the incident.
Oilfields tend to be far away from larger metropolitan areas, so it might be necessary to seek medical attention at a facility that is located far away from where you are. In that situation, long-range ambulances and medical helicopters may be the best option to transport you safely to a medical facility equipped to treat your injuries. Once you have been evaluated and diagnosed by an independent medical provider, make sure to follow their recommendations on future treatment.
Additionally, while seeking medical treatment, there are several things you should know:
Avoid Doctors or medical providers that work directly for your employer
A company doctor may try to minimize or downplay your pain, discomfort, and injuries by finding alternative reasons for your injuries. You will need to be careful when dealing with medical providers hired directly by your employer—they may not have your interests in mind. That is why it is very important to seek and get an independent medical evaluation. If down the road, your employer wants you to be evaluated by a company doctor, you will have your own medical evaluation to compare it with.
Be wary of insurance companies
It is critical to note that insurance companies that insure your employer are not looking out for your interests. Be very wary if they want you to sign anything immediately after you are injured. They may want you to sign medical releases, provide recorded statements, or even attempt to get your to settle your claim immediately. If pressured by an insurance company, it may be best to seek legal advice before you make any decisions.
These insurance agents and adjusters will not value your claim and injuries accurately. Insurance companies make their profits by taking in premium payments (by you) and your employer and paying out as little as possible on any claims. The adjuster and agents insurance companies hire are trained negotiators who want what is best for their employer—not you! Always remember, no matter how sympathetic a claim adjuster may seem, he or she is not working for you but for their insurance company employer.
3. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer with Experience in Oilfield Injuries
A lawyer who has experience in dealing with injuries from oilfield accidents may help you navigate the legal process, help you receive the medical treatment that you need, and handle the negotiation process with the insurance company on your behalf. An experienced lawyer may increase your chances of obtaining a settlement that will cover your costs and expenses while you are injured and unable to work. Additionally, an experienced lawyer may be able to conduct an independent investigation into the facts surrounding the incident and will document your injures, damages, medical records, bills, employment records, and your financials.
An experienced workplace injury attorney may be able to evaluate your claim and help negotiate a fair settlement. Without a personal injury lawyer, you might end up accepting a settlement offer that is much lower than what you need to recover from your injuries and other damages.
GET HELP FROM THE OILFIELD INJURY LAWYERS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP
Zinda Law group firmly believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about their ability to afford legal representation. That is why we offer free case evaluations, and why you will pay nothing unless we win your work injury case. That is our No Win No Fee Guarantee.
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