Oilfield Accident Attorney in Houston, Texas
Results from 2022 have not yet been released, but statistics compiled by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) for 2021 show that both the rate of injuries and fatalities among its member companies increased from the year prior. Fatalities at 20 were up from 14, and the injury rate was up 10 percent. Injuries that resulted in days lost from work totaled 580.
Working in an oilfield is a dangerous occupation for many involved. Different contractors will often perform varying tasks involved in oilfield operations – from the operator to the drilling contractor and even to the equipment manufacturers. Generally, the different contractors will enter into an indemnity agreement to cover personal injury and property damage/loss incidents.
If you’re employed on an oilfield operation, your contractor has the option to provide workers’ compensation coverage or not. Texas is the only state where workers’ compensation is not required of all employers. However, if your contractor does not provide workers’ compensation insurance and you’re injured on the job, you then have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit unless the employer opts to self-insure.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an oilfield accident in or around Houston, Texas, and the surrounding areas, contact the personal injury attorney at The Cedrick D. Forrest Law Firm.
Our legal team has the experience, knowledge, and resources to help you recover the just compensation you deserve for your injuries, whether through workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit. Our firm also proudly serves clients in The Woodlands, Greenspoint, Katy, Houston Heights, Sugar Land, and Missouri City.
We will listen to your story, investigate your situation, and then present you with your best legal options.
Oilfield Safety Regulations
Oilfield operations are subject to regulation and oversight at both the federal and state levels. On the federal level, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued specific regulations regarding the oil and gas well-drilling, servicing, and storage industry.
Specific OSHA safety standards have been issued for the Oil and Gas Field Service Industry, Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas, Drilling Oil and Gas Wells, Oil and Gas Field Exploration Services, and Oil and Gas Field Services Not Elsewhere Specified.
On the state level, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) regulates oil industry operations, as its own mission statement reads: “... to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans.” The RRC derives its authority largely from the Texas Natural Resources Code.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will also have a say on oilfield operations when it comes to issues of air and water quality standards.
The Jones Act
Moving off land-based oil extraction and production operations, the federal Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly referred to as the Jones Act, concerns maritime workers on seagoing vessels, but it can extend to oil rigs if they are a jack-up rig or other type of mobile rig. If the rig is stationary, then the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) applies. Both acts hold the employer responsible for injuries to workers.
Common Oilfield Injuries
The IOGP study asserts that 20 percent of oilfield injuries are the result of slips and falls, and another 18 percent the result of being “struck by another object.” The same percentages seem to apply to work on construction sites in general.
Other causes of oilfield injuries include being struck by a vehicle, along with gas poisoning, electrocution, fires, and explosions. Faulty equipment can also cause injuries, as well as inadequate training provided for operating the equipment.
Steps to Take After an Injury
The first consideration if you’re injured on the job is to seek medical attention, although it should be noted that some injuries don’t show up until hours or even days later. An adrenaline rush can mask the pain and give you a false sense of “I’m fine.” For your own health and welfare, and for any claim you may need to make to recover your medical expenses, you should seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
Provided you’re not so injured that you need to go to a clinic or doctor’s office immediately, you should gather and document the facts of what happened by taking videos or images using your smartphone.
If there are witnesses, you should get their statements and contact information. When you have a chance, either write down or record everything that you experienced in your own words. Your on-site and post-accident documentation will go a long way toward a successful workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit
An injury on an oilfield can present more complex challenges than an injury in a manufacturing plant run by a single employer. There are often different contractors working on the site at the same time. Some may have workers’ compensation and others may not.
Also, there’s the consideration that your injury might stem from another contractor’s negligence, such as being struck by one of their vehicles or by a falling object they were working on. You really need to enlist the aid of an experienced oilfield personal injury attorney to determine who’s at fault and how best to recover compensation for your injuries.
Even if the injury is clearly covered by workers’ compensation, if the injury stems from an equipment malfunction, you may still be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, designer, or supplier. Your attorney can help determine that option for you.
Workers’ compensation insurance companies are for-profit institutions. You can expect any claim you file to be examined closely and your medical and other evidence challenged. After all, the insurer wants to keep their liability as low as possible in terms of the compensation they provide.
Therefore, even if you’re just filing a “routine” workers’ compensation claim, the process can take time and prove challenging. An attorney who knows insurer tactics can help you navigate the system.
Oilfield Accident Attorney Serving Houston, Texas
If you or a loved one has been injured in an oilfield accident, contact our legal team at The Cedrick D. Forrest Law Firm. We will listen to your story, investigate, and then present you with your best legal options to recover the compensation owed to you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages or losses you suffered. We will fight for your rights every step of the way. Reach out immediately for a free consultation.