The oil and gas industry is a vital part of our nation’s economy. However, it has a well-deserved reputation for posing risks for workers.
If you were injured as a worker in the oil and gas industry, there are a couple of different methods for obtaining the compensation you need to help cover the economic expenses of your accident. Commonly, injured workers can obtain compensation through a workers’ compensation claim. However, if your injury was caused by the actions of a third party, you may also recover damages through a personal injury claim. These damages could include non-economic damages, which are related to the impact that your injury has had on your life.
Contact our Morgantown Oil and Gas Worker Injury Lawyers at Wagoner Desai, PLLC today for more information. We want to help you recover the compensation you need to put your life back in order.
What Is a Third Party in an Oil and Gas Worker Injury Claim?
Workers’ compensation is a state insurance program that requires most employers to obtain a policy on behalf of their employees to provide payment of medical expenses and lost wages for injuries that occur in the workplace. While you don’t need to prove negligence to get workers’ comp benefits, you can’t seek noneconomic damages, such as for pain and suffering, in a workers’ comp claim. These noneconomic damages frequently form the majority of compensation a person recovers in other types of personal injury cases.
However, working around and among third-party contractors is common in the oil and gas industry, where crews from multiple employers tackle specialized tasks. If your accident is caused by the careless or reckless actions of one of those contractors, or any other individual or entity who is not your employer or a coworker, the law generally considers it a third-party injury. You can seek compensation for pain and suffering in those cases.
Types of Accidents That Result in Oil and Gas Worker Injuries
While the industry as a whole has made great strides to reduce the number of accidents that result in the severe injury or death of workers, the hazards of the job remain. Oil and gas industry work can be dangerous, and many activities can result in a workplace accident.
Some of the common accidents incurred by oil and gas workers involve:
- Drilling rig accidents: Drilling for oil and gas is a labor-intensive process. Often those working the drilling rig are new to the industry and have little experience with the work they are doing. This can spell disaster for others working in the area.
- Fracking accidents: Hydraulic fracturing is a process that has enabled the U.S. to unlock new sources of oil and gas. However, the chemicals and equipment used in the process place the workers of the industry at a higher risk of injury.
- Derrick rig accidents: The height of the derrick rig lends itself to accidents involving falls from stairs or ladders, as well as injuries to individuals on the ground if unsecured tools or equipment fall from the derrick.
- Falls: Falls are among the leading causes of accidental deaths, and account for 11 percent of workplace injuries.
- Burns and explosions: Blowouts are a well-known hazard in the industry, and are caused when there is a blockage or backflow in the system. When this happens, an explosion can result. This can lead to severe burns from both the chemicals used as well as the fire that ensues from the explosion.
- Equipment failure: There are many types of equipment used in the process of extracting oil and gas. Manufacturers and distributors of this equipment have a responsibility to ensure that the equipment will perform as intended when it is used as labeled and when maintained properly. Unfortunately, product defects can cause even a properly maintained piece of equipment to fail, resulting in injuries.
- Struck by/ struck against/ caught in/ caught between: Oil and gas work involves many types of equipment with many moving parts. Among the most frequent sources of injury is the potential for workers to get struck by or struck against equipment, or to get caught in or caught between pieces of equipment.
Let Us Help With Your Oil and Gas Field Injuries
If you were injured as a result of a third-party accident as an oil and gas worker, you may recover damages related to your injury through a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit is a claim filed in civil court in which you establish who was liable for your injury and show the damages you have incurred as a result.
A lawyer can prove liability by showing:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care depends on the party’s role in your accident. For example, if your injury was caused by an offsite transportation accident that was caused by another motorist, the duty of care that the motorist had toward you was to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally. If the accident was the result of a defective piece of equipment, the duty of care that the manufacturer or distributor of that equipment had was to ensure that it would operate safely when used as directed.
- There was a breach in this duty of care. The breach refers to the action that the at-fault party took that was contrary to the duty of care they owed.
- This breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injury and subsequent expenses, and impacts on your life.
The damages you could claim in a personal injury lawsuit include both the expenses you have faced (known as economic damages), as well as the impacts the injury has had on your life (which are known as non-economic damages).
Damages you might claim in a third party workplace injury lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
If you were injured in a workplace accident that was the fault of a contractor or other type of third party, let the oil and gas injury attorneys at Wagoner Desai, PLLC help you understand your legal options moving forward. Contact us for a case evaluation today. You can reach us at (304) 470-2056 or through our online contact form.
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