Oilfield Accidents and Third Party Claims
The oil and gas industry is one of the most dangerous in the U.S., with workers at risk of everything from repetitive stress injuries caused by overuse to catastrophic injuries resulting from explosions and exposure to hazardous substances. Injured oilfield workers who find themselves in this situation may be able to obtain benefits through the workers’ compensation program to help cover the cost of medical bills and lost wages. In many cases, however, it is also possible to file a personal injury claim against a negligent third party who contributed to or caused an oilfield accident.
What is a Third Party Claim?
Most injured oilfield workers must seek compensation for their medical bills and lost wages from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. While this system protects employers from being held personally liable for an employee’s injury, it does not protect third party entities in the same way. This means that an oilfield worker who was hurt on the job because of someone else’s negligence, like a contractor, could attempt to hold that person or entity personally liable for some of his or her losses.
What Third Parties Could be Liable for an Oilfield Accident?
There are a lot of moving parts on an oilfield, whose proper functioning requires a wide range of employees and support from other contractors and subcontractors. Oilfield drilling, for instance, requires complex equipment that must be designed, manufactured, and assembled by specialized companies. When these companies fail to use the proper amount of care in designing and manufacturing the equipment, they could be held liable if their negligence resulted in a workplace accident. Similarly, independent companies are often contracted to help maintain and repair oilfield tools and equipment. This is a crucial job and any failure to inspect, maintain, and repair equipment could result in a malfunction and subsequent injury. Transportation companies are another common third party on oilfields and are tasked with transporting equipment and materials to different worksites. If an overloaded or improperly secured load, or a negligent driver causes an accident, that company could be held liable by any injured workers.
Settlement vs Litigation
Most third party civil claims don’t go to court. Instead, the parties engage in what is known as the settlement process, where they attempt to reach an out-of-court agreement. In these scenarios, injured workers agree to forego litigation in exchange for an agreed-upon settlement amount. This is the preferred route for many injured employees, as it saves them from having to make many court appearances and engage in an often years-long legal process. Doing so, however, may be necessary if the at-fault party or its insurer refuses to settle. In these situations, the injured claimant can take the case to court, where a jury will assess the issues in the case and if the plaintiff is successful, award monetary damages.
Call Today to Get Started On Your Claim
At Levinson Law, P.C., our experienced Tulsa oilfield accident lawyers can negotiate with third parties on your behalf, working towards a favorable settlement and helping you move on with your life. We are also prepared to take your case all the way to trial and seek full financial recovery for your injuries. Don’t wait to reach out for the help you need, but call us at 918-492-4433 today.