explosion in an oil field, there is a thick cloud of dark smoke covering most of the photo

Workers Rights in Oilfield Disasters

What Protections are Oilfield Workers Entitled To?

Working in the oil and gas industry can be dangerous. Oil and gas companies should provide workers protections to keep them safe. Negligent actions may cause a disaster, and workers who are injured, or those who lost a loved one, should know that they have the right to recover monetary damages.

Read on to learn more about what rights these workers are entitled to before and after an oilfield disaster.

Safety for Oilfield Workers

Many hazards exist in the oil and gas industry that pose a threat to the health and safety of workers. Oil and gas companies should ensure that workers are able to perform their jobs safely. Worker safety should take priority in the planning stage, during drilling, and through completion. Oil and gas companies should ensure that wellsite consultations, rig managers, and other supervisors keep workers safe from harm. In general, companies who value workers’ safety should provide:

  • Equipment and tools that are properly maintained and functioning.
  • Onsite materials that enable the workers to maintain well control.
  • Monitoring equipment to provide workers with real-time information about well conditions.
  • Routine safety meetings through an appropriate “job safety analysis.”
  • Clear instructions concerning “stop work” authority and the chain of command.
  • An emergency action plan to ensure that workers are trained in the event of a catastrophe.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Supervision by competent and qualified personnel to ensure safety standards are met.

Further protections may also be implemented on a state-by-state basis. Check with your state's oil and gas commission to learn more about what else you may be entitled to.

In addition to these health and safety protections, workers also have the right to:

  • Have safety training material and instruction in the language they best understand.
  • Report an injury or illness caused by the working conditions.
  • Protection from retaliation after filing a complaint.

What Are My Rights After a Disaster?

Oilfield disasters such as blowouts, fires, explosions, and equipment failures often result in catastrophic injuries or death to oilfield workers. Know that you have the right to pursue a claim and seek financial compensation following an oilfield disaster that left you injured or a loved one killed.

By working with an attorney who knows how to handle these claims, you can better understand the process and increase your ability to obtain the full amount of monetary damages for your loss.

What Damages Can Be Recovered?

In many states, workers involved in an oilfield accident can take legal action to recover monetary damages. Although this may vary depending on the state in which the accident took place, workers (or in some cases, their families) in Texas may be awarded damages including but not limited to:

  • Loss of earning capacity.
  • Medical expenses in the past and future.
  • Physical pain in the past and future.
  • Disfigurement in the past and future.
  • Physical impairment in the past and future.
  • Mental anguish in the past and future.
  • Loss of consortium in the past and future.
  • Loss of services in the past and future.

If your loved one was killed in an oilfield disaster, you may be able to pursue a claim for wrongful death. You may also be able to bring a survival claim on behalf of your loved one’s estate. You can learn more about that process here.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

By definition, a catastrophic injury will have significant lifetime implications that affect your ability to find work and perform essential tasks in the future. Because of this, Texas employers who provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees are, in some instances, protected from personal injury lawsuits. If you were injured at work and your employer was a subscriber of workers’ compensation insurance, your right to assert claims for your injury is eliminated.

However, if you have been injured at work and your employer was not a workers’ compensation subscriber, you may seek the full measure of damages for your injuries. An experienced attorney can advise you about your rights and help you assert claims for your injuries.

How An Attorney Can Ensure Your Rights Are Protected

Oilfield disaster cases can be complicated and often require a lengthy and expensive investigation into the cause of the incident. It is in your best interest to work with an attorney experienced in handling these claims in order to help you recover the full measure of your damages.

You need attorneys who have a proven track record of prevailing in oilfield disaster cases—through settlement and at trial. The right attorneys will know how to protect your rights and develop your case in order to achieve victory for you.

Lyons & Simmons, LLP has experience in successfully handling oilfield disaster cases involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death throughout the United States. Recently, Lyons & Simmons, LLP handled a nationally-recognized Oklahoma case on behalf of the family of a man who was killed in the oilfield. To learn more about how our team can help you recover the compensation you deserve, schedule a consultation by calling (844) 297-8898.

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