Working on an oil rig is one of the most dangerous professions in America. No matter how careful workers may be, there is always the chance that an accidental oil field injury may occur.
If you or someone you love has experienced the trauma of an oil field injury, you understand how difficult it can be. The physical pain can be long-lasting, and the recovery process is often slow and exhausting. It’s also not uncommon to find that worker’s compensation benefits don’t cover your family’s expenses.
Pursuing your rights can be draining, and the legal system is often confusing. In some cases, it may seem like the decks are stacked against workers who have been injured on the job.
We understand how stressful a work-related injury can be. This simple guide was created to help you navigate your way through the process.
Common Causes of Oil Field Injuries
There are many causes of oil field accidents, some of which are avoidable. Lack of oversight or negligence by supervisors is, unfortunately, the primary reason many workers are injured. Examples of supervisory negligence include:
- Improperly trained workers
- Improperly maintained equipment
- Failure to discontinue use of damaged machinery
- Refusal to comply with safety regulations
- Poor communication among employees and supervisors
- Personal carelessness or recklessness
Some injuries are not necessarily the fault of the employer or supervisor, but could still have been avoided. Some examples include:
- Failure to follow proper safety measures
- Improper use of tools, equipment, or machinery
- Slippery surfaces, trips, and falls
- Improper storage of combustible substances and dangerous chemicals
- Falling debris or other objects
- Improperly high well pressure
Injuries and fatalities may also occur due to malfunction of the helicopter transportation that brings workers to and from the oil rig. Offshore fires and explosions are other common causes of injury or death.
Severe weather is another common reason for oil rig injuries. This includes severe storms, hurricanes, typhoons and gale-force winds. These injuries are harder to avoid and in this case, no one may be found liable.
What to Do if You’ve Been Injured on the Job
If you have been injured while working on an oil rig, there are very specific steps that must be followed to ensure you receive the medical care and financial compensation owed to you.
Step 1: Notify Your Employer
To protect yourself, always notify your immediate supervisor as soon as an accident occurs. Failing to do so may cause your benefit claims to be denied. In some cases, it can even result in termination of employment.
Submit Your Report in Writing
When completing your incident report, it’s best to be completely honest and forthcoming about the circumstances of your injury. Request a written copy of the report to help avoid any disputes in the future.
Document Your Case
After an oil field injury or accident has occurred, it’s important to begin documenting as much as possible. Take good notes while the situation is fresh in your memory, and take as many photographs as possible. Try to get pictures of the accident scene from many different angles and viewpoints.
If there are any witnesses, try to get written or recorded statements right away. At the least, be sure to gather names and contact information of anyone who was present when the accident occurred.
Don’t Minimize Potential Injuries
Be sure to report any pain or possible injuries. Employees sometimes fail to report physical issues because they believe the pain is minor and it will go away. If your problems worsen in the future, you may be penalized for neglecting to mention the issue early on in the process.
Understand Filing Requirements
If your oil field injury is covered under worker’s compensation, your employer will be required to file a claim on your behalf and notify their insurance company about the incident. In the state of Louisiana, they must also file a Louisiana Department of Labor Form 1007.
Step 2: Seek Medical Attention Right Away
After you have notified your employer, your next step should be to immediately seek medical attention. Don’t let the cost of treatment stop you. Your employer is legally obligated to ensure that you receive necessary treatment for any injuries that occur on the job.
An oil field injury may result in serious physical trauma including, but not limited to:
- Severe burns
- Broken or fractured bones
- Chemical exposure
- Spinal cord injury
- Brain injury
If your injuries are critical, you may need to be transported to a hospital emergency room by ambulance or helicopter. In almost all cases, it’s not necessary to receive prior approval from the worker’s compensation insurance company before seeking treatment at an emergency facility.
When an oil field injury does not require immediate medical attention, the worker’s compensation insurance company may limit your choice of physician. There is some concern that a doctor chosen by the insurance company may try to minimize the extent of your injuries.
If you are unhappy with the physicians on the approved list, you have the right to choose your own doctor. However, you will need to confirm that your physician of choice accepts worker’s compensation cases.
Make sure that you follow the doctor’s instructions carefully while recovering from your injury. Don’t try to go back to work before you are ready as you may risk causing even more damage. Take your time and give yourself time to fully physically recover.
In the long run, there is nothing more important than your physical health. Delaying treatment or failing to follow instructions can lead to serious, sometimes devastating, complications.
Step 3: Hire a Qualified Attorney
Once the proper forms have been filed, a formal investigation will be triggered. At this point, it’s important to have retained a personal injury attorney who is confident in handling oil field injury cases. From this point forward, you should not speak to investigators or claims adjusters without first consulting your attorney.
Although they may try to make you feel comfortable, you must remember that the goal of a claims adjuster is to minimize the amount of money that will be owed to you. It’s likely that any statements you make will be recorded and become part of your case, so it’s often best to say as little as possible.
Attempting to communicate directly with your employer’s insurance company without the help of an attorney can severely minimize your chances for fair compensation.
Know When It’s Time to File a Lawsuit
Worker’s compensation is designed to reimburse injured employees for their out-of-pocket medical costs, lost wages, and disability. Unfortunately, the benefits paid are often insufficient to cover your actual expenses.
While employers may try to make you think that filing for worker’s compensation benefits is your only recourse, this is not the case.
There are some circumstances when it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. If it comes to this, your oil field injury attorney will work hard to ensure that you receive the largest possible compensation.
Although nothing can undo the damage caused by your injuries, a good attorney can help make you financially whole and secure your family for years to come.
If you meet one or more of the following criteria, you may have a case for filing a lawsuit.
Lack of Workers Compensation Insurance
If your employer did not have worker’s compensation insurance in place at the time of the oil field injury, you may need file a direct lawsuit for compensation.
Defective Machinery or Equipment
Equipment manufacturers have an obligation to ensure that their products are reasonably safe for use. If your oil field injury was a result of defective equipment or machinery, you may have a case for bringing a product liability lawsuit against the designer or manufacturer.
In an independent contractor, subcontractor, or other third party caused your oil field injury, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party.
Your attorney will be able to examine the details of your case and advise you about the best course of action. He or she will also help take some of the pressure off of you by finding the proper medical providers and speaking to claims adjusters on your behalf.
Tips for Choosing Your Oil Field Injury Attorney
When pursuing compensation for your oil field injury, it’s important to find a qualified and respected attorney to represent your interests. While you want your attorney to be highly professional, it’s also important that he or she be relatable and down-to-earth.
Here are 10 of the most important things you should look for while interviewing personal injury attorneys.
There are over 1.3 million licensed attorneys in the United States. Avoid working with an attorney who is a jack of all trades. When pursuing a personal injury case, make sure you are working with an attorney who specializes in injury law.
Ask about the attorney’s record of success in the courtroom. If they rarely take cases to trial, they may be more likely to accept a lowball settlement offer. The best attorney will be willing to stand up to insurance companies and aggressively fight for your rights.
To successfully pursue your case, your attorney needs to have sufficient resources at his or her disposal. Although looks aren’t everything, you want to make sure you choose an attorney who carries himself with an air of success.
Preparing personal injury cases can be an expensive undertaking. In some cases, it can cost over $100,000 to hire the necessary experts. Make sure your attorney has the funds to cover necessary expenses and the prestige to be taken seriously.
Your injury compensation is a very personal matter, and you want to work with an attorney who will treat you and an individual, rather than a file number.
Pursuing oil field injury benefits is a complicated task. A good attorney will explain things to you in plain English and be available to answer questions as they come up.
The amount of time it takes the attorney to answer your initial call is often a good indicator of how the relationship will go forward. If it takes an unreasonably long time to hear back, you may want to keep looking.
A good attorney won’t hesitate to provide access to satisfied clients who are willing to give a testimonial. If your prospective attorney can’t or won’t provide this information, it could be a red flag.
Family and friends who have excellent experiences with injury attorneys in the past are a great resource for finding a professional you can trust.
If you’ve worked with an attorney in the past for a different type of case like a divorce or civil matter, ask for a referral. Most professionals in a specific area are familiar with one another’s reputations. When you find an attorney you trust, it’s likely that he or she can refer you to a specialist with similar values.
When visiting your prospective attorney for the first time, pay close attention to your gut instincts. By the time you leave the office, you should feel confident in the attorney’s ability and comfortable moving forward. If you’re not sure, take the time to meet with a few others until you are confident you’ve made the right choice.
Focus on Satisfaction
When interviewing lawyers for your oil field injury case, it’s important to understand their policies regarding fees and costs. At Babcock Injury Lawyers, we offer our clients peace of mind with our 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Not only is there no charge unless you win your case, you also have the ability to terminate our relationship within the first 30 days for any reason with no financial obligation.
Do You Have Questions About Your Injury? Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you’ve suffered an oil field injury, contact Babcock Injury Lawyers for a free review of your case. We will listen carefully to your specific details and provide an honest opinion regarding your chances of success. If your case is deemed to be viable, we will aggressively pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Once you have submitted a contact request, we will phone you within 12 hours.