In Texas, the oil and gas industry is a major employer. While there are plenty of good jobs working in oil fields around El Paso, these positions can be dangerous. Workers are exposed to a variety of hazards when working at an oil field, from slip and falls, to motor vehicle accidents, to explosions.
Generally, workplace injuries – including those on oil fields – are covered by the Texas workers’ compensation system. However, there may be situations where you can file a personal injury lawsuit for your losses. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance or a third party is responsible for your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury claim.
At Forbes & Forbes, we represent injured workers who have been hurt on oil fields and other job sites throughout the El Paso area. We work hard to help our clients get the money that they deserve for their losses. To learn more, reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
The Dangers of Texas Oil Fields
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the oil and gas extraction industry can be particularly dangerous for workers. From 2013 to 2017, 489 employees in the oil and gas sector died as a result of oilfield injuries. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of oil field injuries in the U.S. rose by 10%.
There are certain safety hazards that are associated with working in and around oil fields. These dangers include:
- Vehicle collisions: oil fields and well sites are often located in remote areas, which may require workers to travel long distances to get to the sites. Many El Paso oil field workers are injured or even killed in motor vehicle accidents as a result.
- Struck-by/caught-in/caught-between accidents: oil field workers may be struck by or caught between many different things, including moving vehicles or equipment, falling equipment, and high-pressure lines.
- Explosions and fires: oil field work typically includes some exposure to flammable vapors or gasses that may be released from wells, trucks, production equipment, or surface equipment. These vapors or gasses can be ignited by electricity, open flames, cigarettes, cutting or welding tools, lightning, or even frictional heat. When this occurs, workers may suffer serious burns.
- Falls: working on an oil field often means having to access platforms and equipment located high above the ground. Workers may fall from these heights, particularly if they are not equipped with fall protection.
- Confined spaces: workers may be required to enter small spaces such as storage tanks, mud pits, reserve pits, and other excavated areas. When in these confined spaces, they could be exposed to hazardous chemicals or fires from flammable vapors or gasses.
- High-pressure lines and equipment hazards: extracting oil often requires the use of compressed gasses and high-pressure lines. This equipment may fail, causing serious injury.
- Electrical accidents: there are often many sources of energy on an oil field job site, including mechanical, hydraulic, and electric energy. If equipment is not properly installed, maintained, and used, it could lead to an accident.
- Machine hazards: different types of equipment can be found on many oil fields, such as top drives, Kelly drives, draw works, pumps, compressors, hoist blocks, belt wheels, catheads, and conveyors. Oil field workers may get struck by or caught between unguarded machines, causing severe injuries.
If you were hurt in an oil field in or around El Paso, you may be able to take legal action. An El Paso personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and your options.
Can I File a Lawsuit for an El Paso Oil Field Accident?
As a general rule, workers who are hurt on the job are required to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation will provide medical treatment along with compensation for lost wages and other benefits. It is typically an exclusive remedy, which means that if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you may be limited to filing a workers’ comp claim.
However, unlike most other states, Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As a result, many companies don’t have this type of insurance – and if their employees suffer a workplace injury, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. To successfully sue your employer for an oil field accident, you must be able to prove that someone acted negligently (carelessly), recklessly, or intentionally. For example, if your employer did not provide fall protection and you were hurt in a fall from a platform, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against them.
Even if your employer does have workers’ compensation insurance, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party for their negligence. For example, if a manufacturing defect in a high-pressure line caused it to malfunction and injure you, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or designer of the product. Alternatively, if an employee of a subcontractor on the oil field struck you when moving a piece of heavy equipment, you could sue that subcontractor for their employee’s negligent conduct.
These types of claims can be complicated, and it isn’t always easy to determine when and if you can file a lawsuit instead of or in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. In addition, your employer may be putting a lot of pressure on you to sign away your rights or take a settlement. Their goal is to resolve the case for as little as possible – not to make sure that you get the money that you need to move forward with your life.
Oil field accidents can cause serious or even fatal injuries. The best way to get top dollar for your losses – beyond what you may be entitled to under the workers’ compensation system – is by working with an experienced El Paso oil field accident attorney. They will fully investigate every aspect of your case and help you hold the at-fault parties responsible for your injuries.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
Oil field accidents are associated with devastating, life-changing injuries. If you have been hurt in an oil field accident in or around El Paso, you shouldn’t just accept whatever the company is willing to offer. Let our law office help you get the money that you deserve – along with justice for the wrong that was done to you.
At Forbes & Forbes, we have substantial experience taking on major corporations (like oil companies) and winning. We will aggressively advocate for your rights, and help you get maximum compensation for your injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with an El Paso oil field accident attorney, give us a call at 915-533-5441 or fill out our online contact form.