While most big city personal injury cases involve motor vehicle accidents after the cars and trucks are filled with gas, there is the potential for a myriad of more devastating accidents that occur in oil and drilling industry workers. One classic example of a fossil fuel accident involves oil field explosions and the ensuing fallout for the victims.
Many people may not identify with this possibility, as they live in cities or states that do not have oil fields. Nevertheless, the fear of an oil field explosion is a real concern for the workers and their families who live near the areas.
Oil field injuries can be increasingly devastating in correlation to your proximity to the event. Even with this straightforward concept of danger, oil field explosions can be complicated issues beyond the suffering of damages and injuries.
These explosive accidents can result in a string of legal complications depending on who is found to be liable for the accident and, therefore, what parties you can sue. Owners of oil fields can have certain government protections and can always, at the very least, give authorities a statement that contradicts your side of the story.
However, there can be many ways for you to legally recover your losses following an oil field explosion. This article will provide readers with general guidance on what to do legally in different types of oil field accidents.
Disclaimer: We need to clarify that all information listed here should not be taken as legal advice. For more detailed information about your unique oil field explosion case, we advise you to receive a free case evaluation from a personal injury lawyer.
During an individualized and free consultation, an accident attorney will hear the nature and exact details of your oil field accident claim. You can ask questions about how the attorney-client relationship protects you and other case related questions you may have.
Does The Oil Field Employ You?
The first consideration that needs to be made is your relationship to the oil field itself. The odds of an oil field explosion directly harming anyone that is not allowed or meant to be near there in the first place are very low.
The chance always exists, however, but being a bystander afflicted by an oil field accident changes the nature of the case compared to those the field’s owners employ.
Like offshore oil rig workers off the Texas Gulf Coast can file different forms of federal workers’ compensation claims, oil field workers can typically file a workers’ compensation claim against the oil field company for injuries sustained on the site.
Workers’ compensation is a state created and managed legal system that is set up to provide specific benefits to workers injured on the job. It also protects the employers that pay for the cost of the workers’ compensation insurance from liability for additional personal injury lawsuits for the same injury.
Employers who pay for workers’ compensation insurance are known as subscribers, and in most states, it is not optional. Texas is the only state that does not require an employer to subscribe to workers’ compensation coverage.
Oil field facilities can be especially prone to catastrophic accidents, including spills and explosions. When this occurs, those working in the immediate vicinity are more likely to suffer the most severe effects from such accidents than those further away.
However, proximity is not a qualifying factor for an oil field workers’ compensation claims.
While a workers’ compensation claim procedure differs significantly from a personal injury claim, the net result tends to be about the same when getting compensated for lost hours and other damages incurred from the accident.
However, workers’ compensation claims do preclude you from suing your employer on a personal level and will cause you to depend solely on the lawsuit filed.
That said, this is the only real distinction that will alter the actions you need to take when it comes to filing a claim against the oil field. Otherwise, if you are an unaffiliated citizen harmed due to negligence or an accident on the field, it is similar to ordinary claims.
Often oil field workers and their families can sue more than one company after an oil field explosion as the accident is often not the fault of the oil field company but instead a vendor that was allowed to work there.
Workers’ compensation claims are not tied to negligence or wrongdoing like the traditional personal injury claims we have come to know.
Seek Out Immediate Medical Treatment
The immutable first step for any injury incurred from someone else’s failings is seeking medical attention from your provider of choice.
The nature of oil field accidents and their explosiveness is to yield grievous or serious injury. The oil and gas company might refer you to a medical treatment facility outsourced by the field’s management to save face and stay out of the news.
However, you have the right to pursue medical care from the doctor and therapists of your choice and should exercise that right as you see fit.
It’s best if you exercise this right early on and not delay treatment as your primary care facility better understands your medical history and is more capable of referring you to the correct specialists as needed.
Your medical expenses are the main factor toward personal injury settlement negotiations and ensuring you get the fair compensation amount you deserve. The records of your treatments and their costs are vital to the settlement negotiation process.
The insurance adjuster may attempt to discount certain expenses as being unrelated to the oil field accident. However, the reasonable amount to pay for your medical bills and pain should come to light and be accounted for in calculating your final settlement amount.
If you go ahead and hire an oil field explosion lawyer, you will want to request copies of your bills and records as your case and therapy proceed over time. These records will help your attorney back your claims about the type and scope of your injuries.
Simultaneously, the medical bills will give the mediators an idea of how damaging the accident was for you financially. You can cut down the total time of your case by getting these medical records yourself.
As the patient, you can provide them to your attorney without having the law firm work their way through the HIPPA slowdowns of the medical provider’s system. Still, this is only a small part of the full extent of the measures that these types of accidents evidence demand.
Document the Oil Field Explosion Accident
Documentation is, by and large, one of the most critical tools in any civil lawsuit. You can hire a law firm and then sit back and focus on your recovery after an accident, but this could leave you at a significant disadvantage.
Regardless of your relationship with the defendants in the oil field case, they are your legal adversary and must be treated as such. Therefore, it is essential to document the accident as best as possible instead of depending on the oil field company’s management to have your best interest in mind.
The high cost and demand for profit in the oil and gas industry lend companies to put profits over the oil field workers’ safety and well-being.
The first step is to make a written account of the events around the accident. What events led up to the oil field explosion, the accident itself, and the explosion’s immediate aftermath. Often you will have a chance to do this early on, whether it be making formal statements to emergency personnel or hospital workers.
Doing this puts an official record of your side of the facts and what happened. Writing documentation soon after the accident will reinforce your claim.
However, simply putting your accounting of events to paper will not be enough to favorably sway the adjusters negotiating your settlement. Luckily, other forms of documentation are much more difficult to refute and even quicker to produce.
We are referring, of course, to photographic evidence of the scene of the accident. For understandable reasons, taking photographs of the oil field scene might be challenging, and you would have more pressing concerns if you or a loved one were injured.
All is not lost if you were unable to collect evidence yourself, as your legal counsel might be able to subpoena witnesses whose testimonies act as your evidence of what happened.
These photos you can secure can serve as valuable evidence to show the severity of the events that transpired. Another form of photo evidence that you have a window of opportunity to collect is taking photographs of any visible injuries on your person from the oil field explosion.
The clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident can further demonstrate how you were directly affected by the blast. The tears and burned parts of the clothing can back up the source of the scars and burns on your body.
The more photo and video evidence you have of the oil field explosion, the harder it will be to refute each piece in a court of law, and it will only make it more difficult for the adjuster at a claims adjustment meeting.
These sorts of explosion accidents are unlikely to leave anyone as the sole victim. While there might be varying degrees of injury and even loss of life, there will undoubtedly be other victims. So by documenting as much as you can, you can improve the odds of successfully and optimally filing a claim against an oil field and other liable parties.
Consider Hiring An Oil Field Accident Attorney
Anyone who is a victim of an accident should consider consulting with a local accident lawyer to fully grasp your legal options in the wake of your injury.
At Express Legal Funding, we are the people who write informative info about pre-settlement funding and other civil lawsuit matters. Still, we do not intend to be the people to instruct you on how to best proceed in such oil field explosion cases.
Every accident lawsuit has a unique set of circumstances that an accident attorney should carefully review. Navigating a massive personal injury case against multiple defendants can be overwhelming. The cases are complicated, whether it be an oil rig explosion off the Texas Gulf Coast or an accident at an oil field located somewhere between Houston and Midland.
That’s why you want to hire an attorney who will explain your rights and what steps can be taken for you specifically and will negotiate on your behalf for a fair oil field accident settlement.
Be Aware of MDLs and Class Action Claims for Oil Field Explosions
You will seldom be the sole victim of an oil field accident, especially when it comes to explosions. There are sure to be others caught in the blast who suffered injuries similar to or worse than those you suffered.
When there are multiple victims of an entity’s mistakes, they can often come together to consolidate their losses to ensure that everyone is paid their fair share in terms of settlement funds. These lawsuits can be class action lawsuits or similar multidistrict litigation (MDL).
One of the most recent and prominent examples of a class action lawsuit surrounding a drilling rig accident was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, also referred to as the BP oil spill.
The BP oil spill was the result of the Deepwater Horizon Explosion that’s oil blowout began on April 20, 2010, along the Louisiana Coast in the Gulf of Mexico.
Multiple oil rig workers were victims of BP’s carelessness, which led to health complications, pollution, damages, and other consequences from thousands of gallons of crude oil leaking out into the ocean.
An MDL and class action suit filed against BP for its role in the oil spill didn’t see a verdict until five years later, resulting in BP having to pay out $18,700,000,000.00 in settlement funds to the injured workers and individuals affected in the accident.
Just because you are not the only injured victim filing a claim against an oil company does not mean you will not receive your just share of the settlement reward for the pain and damages you suffered.
However, the sheer number of people who can be caught in an oil rig explosion involving something as explosive as a fuel source is enough to warrant a class action response. As a result, the odds of the oil company finding itself paying out on the settlements of those injured in the blast will typically increase proportionately.
Still, this does not become a guaranteed victory for your claim. However, your odds do improve if you were not the sole victim, as it becomes far more difficult in the long run for the company to deny that your injuries resulted from the blast when so many were victims of the same.
If there is an MDL is being filed against the oil company responsible, your case will likely be added to it by default. Though, you may need to go through a specific law firm to get involved depending on the circumstances.
Keeping abreast of the status of any class action or MDL claims is essential in these situations. This is not applicable if you were an employee and are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim against your employer.
Closing Statements: Oil Field Explosion Accidents
Oil field and oil rig accidents can be severe and can originate from common causes like oil drilling equipment failure, defective equipment, or the company violating occupational safety regulations (OSHA). The results can range from extreme injuries to outright fatalities. The companies responsible for these reckless accidents should be held accountable.
Starting with the proper resources to put you on a path to a financial settlement can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with the legal world’s often harsh terrain. These lawsuits can also be wrongful death cases filed by family members.
Others can be much more straightforward cases that fall under personal injury law that can be settled quickly with the insurance company. Still, oil field explosion lawsuits can be complex, and every case is different.
As far as personal injury claims go, this is a unique situation. MDLs and class action claims, tragic though they might be, are prevalent in these situations and will enable you to seek compensation alongside the other victims. However, the one saving grace is that you are unlikely to be alone in the fight against the oil company responsible for the explosion.
However, we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that we cannot offer legal advice for your particular case. The information we have discussed here is based on general information surrounding the legal system. For more detailed information about your specific circumstances, we recommend that you consult a personal injury attorney for individualized advice covering the particulars of your case.
Regardless of the situation, fighting a legal battle for a catastrophic oil field injury of this nature can be taxing mentally, emotionally, and financially. Considering you need to account for medical expenses incurred by the accident and day-to-day expenses like food and power. After a while, the costs can tend to pile up and overwhelm without a sign of letting up.
Fortunately, resources can be available to help you through such turmoil. We at Express Legal Funding offer a service where you can use funds to pay for essentials like housing, utility bills, groceries, and anything else you are struggling to afford during your lawsuit. This type of non-recourse cash advance is called pre-settlement funding.
It’s risk-free, so the lawsuit funding company only requires repayment of the funds at the end of your case, which is taken out of your final settlement or trial award. So if you lose your oil field explosion lawsuit and recover no money on your claim, you get to keep the pre-settlement funding advanced. So, call us to learn more about legal funding today and get a free consultation and case review!
About the Author
Aaron R. Winston is the Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding. As "The Legal Funding Expert," Aaron has more than ten years of experience in the consumer finance industry. Most of which was as a consultant to a top financial advisory firm, managing 400+ million USD in client wealth.
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