The oil and gas industries in Texas and New Mexico continue to flourish, employing thousands of people in good-paying jobs.
Unfortunately, the industry is also very dangerous, and workers suffer serious injuries every day.
If you have been injured, you might be able to get compensation above and beyond what the workers’ compensation system will provide. However, pursuing a claim for an injury on the job in an oilfield is complicated. You need a legal advocate on your side who understands the complex nature of these claims.
Contact us online or call (800) 433-2408 today for a free consultation with an experienced oilfield injury attorney.
Common Types of Oilfield Accidents
Nearly anything can go wrong when working in an oilfield. Unsafe conditions lurk everywhere, which is why all workers should be thoroughly trained. However, employment shortages can lead to some companies hiring workers that are not adequately trained. Additionally, far too many companies push their employees to work at unsafe speeds. That puts all workers at risk. Some of the most common types of oilfield accidents that lead to injuries include the following.
Explosions and Fires
Workers are frequently around flammable liquids and gasses. Wells, trucks, tanks, and equipment can catch on fire or explode easily. Fire starters include heated elements, static electricity, and even operating equipment. Oilfield fires are especially dangerous because they can spread quickly due to large gas volumes.
Working in an oilfield means lots of large and dangerous pieces of equipment that are used for drilling, pulling and running pipe, and more. Workers should be thoroughly trained, and employers must properly maintain equipment and ensure it’s up to code. Manufacturing defects can also lead to equipment failure injuries.
Oil Rig Collapse
Oil rigs weigh thousands of tons, but they can lose stability, especially if they are poorly constructed. Workers on a rig that collapses can be thrown off or become trapped underneath.
Poorly Maintained Worksites
With so much dangerous equipment and risks everywhere, slips, trips, and falls are also common. Slips and trips from the same height accounted for 20% of injuries in 2021 for oil and gas workers. Falling objects and falls from heights also occur. Worksites should have adequate lighting and be free from avoidable hazards.
Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals and Fumes
Workers are exposed to numerous fumes and chemicals. Many of these can have hazardous effects, especially due to repeated exposure. Such hazards sometimes result in an oilfield injury that can manifest years after exposure.
Hydrogen sulfide is commonly found in oilfields. It’s not easy to detect because it’s colorless, and it can accumulate in areas with poor ventilation. Workers without proper respiratory protection can be killed instantly. Other gas injuries can lead to symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, and unconsciousness.
Sometimes there’s an uncontrolled release of dangerous liquids and gasses during the drilling process, which leads to a well blowout. If a well blowout ignites, it can lead to a very dangerous oil fire. Workers who service the wells can be injured or killed. In 2017, the most fatalities for oil and gas extraction workers occurred during well-servicing.
Oilfield workers need access to electricity to power their equipment, and this can present additional dangers. Workers near large metal towers have the added concern of lightning strikes. Electrocution can lead to severe burns, shock, and death.
Common Types of Oilfield Injuries
Oilfield injuries vary significantly depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Below, we summarize some of the most common oilfield injuries.
Oilfield workers can suffer broken bone injuries in a variety of accidents, such as falls caused by loss of footing. Other workers can break bones when working with defective equipment that can strike them or catch them between surfaces. The traumatic blow can fracture any bone in the body.
Fractures should heal on their own once they are set properly. But very serious breaks might require surgery to install a plate or pin to hold the bones together. When bones fuse together improperly, victims can lose the use of the affected limb.
Oilfield workers can get burned either by fire or by chemicals.
Burns that are small and superficial can usually clear up in a month or so after being cleaned. However, deeper burns can permanently damage skin as well as underlying tissue, including nerves, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. When burns cover a large part of the body, a victim can die.
For treatment, doctors might need to graft new skin onto the affected areas. Oilfield burn injuries typically limit mobility, and victims might need massages or additional surgery to loosen contractures.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Oilfield workers can suffer a TBI whenever they suffer a blow to the head.
A serious blow to the body could also shake the head sufficiently so that the brain is damaged. Many workers can suffer a TBI after a fall or when struck by an object.
TBI symptoms might take a day or two to develop. In more serious TBIs, the victim should blackout for a few minutes up to several hours. Generally, the longer you are unconscious and the more confusion you have upon awakening, then the more severe your TBI.
Some oilfield TBI injuries clear up with sufficient rest after a couple of months. More serious brain injuries often require rehabilitation to improve mobility, balance, coordination, speech, and self-care. Some TBI victims never improve.
Any traumatic blow can cause damage to a person’s spinal cord, leading to loss of mobility or sensation.
Some incomplete spinal cord injuries can improve with rehabilitation, but others will never get better. Spinal cord injuries are incredibly expensive to treat, with victims incurring millions of dollars over a lifetime.
Crushed or Severed Limbs
Workers may become trapped or pinned under equipment which can lead to crushed or severed limbs. Given the weight of some oilfield equipment, the risk of losing limbs is high.
Neck and Back Injuries
Not all injuries are necessarily catastrophic. Soft tissue injuries are also very common. Workers are typically lifting heavy equipment or subject to repetitive motion. These actions can lead to neck and back strain and sprain over time. More serious neck and back injuries involve herniations that impinge nerves and may require surgery.
Unfortunately, some workers pass away from their injuries. Surviving family members might have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. Wrongful death claims differ from other types of personal injury lawsuits for oilfield injuries. A wrongful death lawsuit compensates family members for their losses rather than the deceased’s losses before they died.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Oilfield Injuries
Only an experienced oilfield injury attorney can analyze your oilfield injuries and determine whether you have a claim and against whom. If successful, you can receive compensation for medical care, lost wages, and reduced quality of life.
Contact us online or call (800) 433-2408 today. One of our lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case. At Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C., we offer a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose by speaking with one of our attorneys.
Also, we handle cases on a contingency basis. That means we only receive payment for our services if we collect compensation on your behalf. With our decades of experience in New Mexico and Texas, we know how to build a solid case for oilfield injuries. Let us help you fight to hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries.