The energy industry has allowed thousands of workers in the Permian Basin, Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, and Haynesville Shale to achieve the American Dream. However, because they’re typically exposed to volatile fluids and gases, in close proximity to heavy trucks and machinery, and work extremely long hours, oilfield workers also face a significant risk of injury and death from preventable accidents and explosions.
If you or a loved one were hurt, severely burned, or tragically killed while working in the oilfield, you can’t depend on your employer and their insurance company to “take care of you” or “make things right.”
You must also understand that time is not on your side.
What you do in the days and weeks that follow will determine whether you’re fully and fairly compensated for all your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain, or forced to see a company doctor and limited to a small amount of workers’ compensation benefits that won’t come close to covering all of your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
Notify Your Employer Immediately
This goes without saying, but if you’re injured in an oilfield accident or explosion, you must notify your supervisor immediately, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious. In fact, the true extent of your injuries may not even be apparent immediately after the incident, when you’re most likely experiencing an adrenaline rush.
Timely notification will ensure you receive your mandated worker’s compensation benefits, provide documentation of the work-related nature of your injuries, and show that you took them seriously.
Demand Immediate Medical Care of YOUR CHOICE
No matter how severe your injuries, it’s essential to get checked out at the emergency room or nearby urgent care center right away. If you do wait to receive appropriate care, the oilfield company and its insurance company will most certainly use that delay as a reason to dispute the severity of your injuries and discount your damages.
And remember, you have a right to demand to see the doctor of your choice. You are under no obligation to see the doctors and medical providers chosen by your employer or its insurer, and it’s in your best interest not to do so.
Write Down Everything You Can Remember About the Oilfield Accident
Once you’ve taken care of your immediate medical needs, you should take some time to write down a detailed account of the accident or explosion, including:
- Every detail you can remember, even those that might seem trivial.
- The names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident.
You should also preserve the clothes you were wearing at the time and any other physical evidence in your possession. These items should be placed in a clean, plastic bag, unlaundered and unaltered in any way.
Finally, you should try to take photos and video of the scene or equipment involved – assuming you’re able to access the area.
Don’t Count on Your Employer or their Claims Reps to Take Care of You
Trusting your employer or the insurance company to fairly compensate you could, depending on the severity of your injuries, end up costing you and your family millions of dollars. No matter what they promise or how concerned they might appear, they have no genuine interest in making sure you’re fully compensated. Their one and only goal is to SAVE MONEY by paying you as little as possible.
In fact, the oilfield company and its insurer will likely blame you for the accident, downplay the extent of your injuries, and limit your recovery to what little you receive in workers’ compensation benefits. They’ll do almost anything—pushing you to give a recorded statement, destroying and “losing” critical evidence, and even hiring private investigators to follow, photograph, and videotape you and your family—to avoid paying you all that you’re owed.
Other tactics they might use include:
- Claiming that you failed to perform a complete JSA or Hazard Analysis before starting the job or acted negligently in some other way that contributed to the accident or your injuries.
- Bringing in outside “experts” or pressuring coworkers to give conflicting statements that cast doubt on your account of the accident.
- Forcing you to see doctors and specialists paid by your employer, their insurance company, or their workers’ compensation provider, knowing that they’ll dispute the nature or extent of your injuries.
- Insisting that you sign documents releasing your employer from all responsibility for the oilfield accident and your resulting injuries
- Citing anything you or your family posts on social media to dispute your claims.
You should never, under any circumstances, agree to provide a formal statement, sign anything, or accept any money other than your regular paycheck before speaking with an experienced oilfield injury lawyer who’s successfully represented injured oilfield workers and their families against the largest oil and gas companies in the world.
And until your case is resolved, limit discussion of your accident and injuries to your spouse and your attorney. Don’t mention anything about your case on social media or discuss it with coworkers, friends, and extended family.
Comply with Medical Advice and Attend All Doctor and Therapy Appointments
Complying with medical advice and attending all of your doctor and therapy appointments is obviously important to your physical recovery. But if you fail to follow your treatment plan, you’ll also allow your employer and its insurance company an opportunity to challenge your credibility, dispute the seriousness of your injuries, and question your commitment to your recovery.
It’s vitally important that you keep your appointments and follow your doctors’ recommendations.
Don’t Assume Workers’ Compensation Will Take Care of You and Your Family
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system of insurance that covers work-related injuries. If you’re hurt on the job, and your employer carries workers’ compensation coverage, it will pay your medical bills and a portion of your average weekly wages, even if your actions caused or contributed to your injuries.
In Texas, for example, those eligible for workers’ comp usually receive between 40% to 60% of their average weekly wage. However, you can’t earn more than $971 per week through workers’ compensation, even if that’s less than 60% of your average weekly wage. While there are some exceptions, those payments generally stop when:
- You reach maximum medical improvement or the point when additional treatment won’t further your recovery.
- You return to work at the same wage you earned before the accident; or
- You received temporary wage compensation for 104 weeks.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation doesn’t come close to replacing the weekly wages many oilfield accident victims typically earn.
Most importantly, workers comp coverage DOESN’T compensate you for your future medical expenses, pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish or any of the other damages you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit.
Speak with an Experienced Oilfield Injury Lawyer
You should never attempt to negotiate with the oilfield company or its insurance company on your own. They’re only interested in delaying your claim to avoid paying you and your family the compensation you truly deserve. As this process drags on, the odds that you’ll be fairly compensated for all of your injuries and losses will continue to decrease, while the likelihood that you’ll walk away with nothing increases.
An experienced oilfield injury lawyer – one who consistently wins record-breaking verdicts and settlements against the largest energy companies in the world—will understand the tactics your employer and its insurer will use to avoid accountability, know how to locate and preserve vital evidence, and can ensure that you and your family receive the maximum compensation possible for your pain and suffering.
Undefeated Houston Oilfield Accident Lawyers: Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consultation.
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If you were seriously injured or tragically lost a loved one in an oilfield accident or explosion, call 1-888-603-3636, use the “chat” button on our homepage, or click here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Us” form.
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