The law firm with a commitment to our community of oil and gas workers
The oil boom in North Dakota has made it possible for many hard-working people to obtain high paying jobs by working in the oil and gas extraction industry. However, for many oil field workers, these financial gains come with a steep price. There has been a significant increase in the number of oil field injuries and related fatal deaths, affecting all workers in the industry, including drivers, welders and derrick workers using hoists and cranes. When North Dakota oil field workers are injured in the patch, the injury lawyers of Larson Law Firm P.C. advocate to secure the benefits they are entitled to receive. If you or a loved one was injured in an oil field accident, contact the firm with a proven commitment to the oil workers of North Dakota.
A quick look at the dangers of the oil and gas industry
Oil and gas extraction is a major part of the North Dakota economy, with more than 14,000 wells reportedly operating throughout the state in 2016. We have the second largest oil reserve in the United States, and along with Texas, our state accounts for half of the crude oil production in the country.
These bustling oil fields account for millions of oil barrels and far too many work-related injuries. North Dakota now has the highest percentage of laborer fatalities in the nation. The AFL-CIO Death on the Job Report for 2017 stated that North Dakota was the most dangerous state to work in with a fatality rate of 12.5 per every 100,000 people: “Oil and gas extraction industries accounted for 74% of the fatal work injuries in the mining sector.”
What are the most common oil field accidents?
Over the last five years, North Dakota has experienced a boost in oil and gas extraction, particularly in the Bakken oil fields. This booming industry has also resulted in a significant increase in oil-field related accidents. Our lawyers have seen injuries from numerous types of oil field accidents, including those involving:
Oil rig collapses. These structures are built to withstand the elements and the pressure of the oil. However, poor design, construction or maintenance can lead to rig collapses. An oil field worker may become pinned under warped metal from the derrick or a broken piece from the rig could strike a worker in the head causing serious brain injuries.
Site explosions and fires. One of the most dangerous aspects of working in an oil field is the constant risk of fire. Oil is highly flammable and explosive. When a spark hits oil, the effect can be instantaneous, leading to a dangerous explosion. An oil fire can be extremely difficult to put out, as the oil from the well continues to feed fuel to the fire. In the meantime, any nearby oil field workers are at risk of serious injury.
Blow outs. Built-up pressure from the underground reservoir can force oil and gases up the well with enough force to damage the drilling rig and cause serious injuries to nearby roughnecks, drillers, derrick hands and other workers. Blowouts have also been known to cause fatalities.
Oil derrick falls. There are many, many reasons why a worker can fall off of a derrick. If the reason you or your loved one fell is the negligence of another operator, employee or supervisor, you may be entitled to compensation.
Pipeline accidents. With more than 2.5 million miles of pipelines running through the U.S., there is always a chance of a toxic spill, a worksite injury or an explosion. We uphold the rights of oil field workers injured in pipeline-related accidents.
Oil service truck accidents. The prevalence of construction and tractor trailer trucks create a significant risk for vehicle accidents. These specialized vehicles are designed to haul heavy equipment used in the mining industry. An accident with these trucks can cause serious injuries for everyone involved.
What are the most common types of oil field injuries?
These are serious accidents that can cause severe injuries and fatalities. The result of these incidents can leave injured workers with life-changing conditions, requiring extremely expensive medical treatments and support services. Some of the most common injuries resulting from oil-field accidents include:
Amputations. The violent nature of an oil field explosion or blowout can lead to the amputation of a worker’s limbs. Crushed limbs may also need to be amputated.
Crush injuries. Falling equipment and pieces from oil derricks can strike and trap a worker underneath. The force from this type of injury can also crush one or more parts of the worker’s body. Intense pressure from leaks can also lead to crushing injuries, as can truck backup accidents.
Burns. Oil field fires and explosions can result from negligent operations, defective equipment, poorly maintained pipelines, or the negligence of your coworkers. A lightning strike or other act of nature can also cause a fire. These dangerous incidents can lead to severe, disfiguring burns.
Breaks and fractures. Falls, slips, and trips can all lead to falls. Oil and gas make surfaces slippery, and without the right safety equipment, you could easily break an arm or leg. You can also sustain a fracture if too much pressure builds up behind a stuck valve you’re trying to open.
Head injuries. Trauma to the head from falling objects or flying debris during an explosion can lead to long term head injuries. Traumatic brain injuries can cause loss of memory, cognitive difficulties and rapid degeneration of the brain.
Neck and back injuries. These injuries are also commonly associated with the intense labor required for oil field jobs. You could end up in chronic pain from repetitive stress injuries, or slipped discs. The most serious incidents can result in permanent paralysis.
Wrongful deaths. Oil and gas work is some of the most dangerous work there is, with some of the highest averages for fatalities. Oil and gas extraction workers are killed on the job at a rate seven times greater than the fatality rate for all other U.S. industries. An official AFL-CIO report stated that the fatality rate for North Dakota’s oil and gas extraction sector is approximately 84.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, which is a disturbing seven times the national industry fatality rate.
Toxic fumes and chemical exposure. Dangerous fumes are common among oil fields, including crystalline silica and other types of fumes. Breathing in these fumes can have lasting impact on your health and wellbeing. Constant exposure to the chemicals used in such oil extraction techniques as hydraulic fracturing can have long term neurological and respiratory effects.
Our experienced North Dakota oil field accident attorneys have a proven track record of helping injured oil rig workers secure compensation for their injuries. We have the resources to thoroughly investigate these accidents to determine the cause and all responsible parties.
I work in the oil industry and was hurt on the job. What should I do?
If you suffer an injury following an oilfield accident, the steps you take next can affect the strength of any action you take regarding compensation for your losses.
First, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Oilfield accidents typically cause catastrophic injuries or invisible toxic fumes, so it’s crucial you see a doctor after any type of major incident. Next, notify your employer of the accident (if they’re not already aware) and your injuries. Failure to do so could jeopardize a workers’ compensation case.
Afterward, ensure you collect and keep evidence related to your injuries and losses, including all medical documents and bills, prescriptions and any official reports. You may also want to take photos of your injuries. This type of documentation is essential to your case. Then, contact a qualified North Dakota oil field injury lawyer to discuss your options.
How do I know if I have an oil field injury claim?
Every oil accident case is unique. However, in the majority of injuries experienced on the job, employees are eligible for a workers’ compensation claim and associated benefits. On the other hand, if you’re injured on the job due to the negligence of a third party – like an independent contractor or a defective machine or oil rig – you may be eligible to file a personal injury action for your losses. For a strong third-party claim, you must be able to prove that the third party or entity’s negligence or recklessness caused your injuries and damages.
My loved one was killed in an oilfield accident. Can you help?
Unfortunately, North Dakota is one of the most dangerous states in which to work for employees of the oil and gas industry. If your spouse or loved one suffered a fatal injury on the job, our North Dakota attorneys can assist you in pursuing a wrongful death action. You may be eligible to recover financial compensation on behalf of the deceased, including burial expenses and lost wages.
Why do I need a specialized oilfield accident attorney?
The oil and gas industries are particularly specialized. If you suffer an accident working in the oil industry, you need an attorney with specialized experience. These types of injuries tend to be more serious, require more time off work and cost much more financially. Oilfield accident lawyers understand the industry inside and out, as well as the strategies corporations and insurance companies use to attempt to deny your claim.
Help for those injured by hydraulic fracturing
While hydraulic fracturing has created a huge number of jobs, the occupation can be extremely hazardous for workers. There is the potential for motor vehicle accidents when trucks deliver water, silica sand, and chemical additives. Workers could get caught in a fire or explosion, which may cause burns or even death. You are also exposed to particles of silica sand in the air that may be hazardous to breathe in. Finally, workers may come in contact with a variety of potentially hazardous chemicals. All chemicals must be handled and transported properly. One small misstep may lead to life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Our North Dakota fracking lawyers help anyone injured on or near a fracking site.
Fighting for the rights of injured oil field workers in North Dakota
With our client-centered approach to the provision of legal services, the attorneys of Larson Law Firm, P.C. make ourselves available to meet your legal needs quickly and effectively. You are welcome to come in for a face-to-face consultation or to speak with us by telephone. If you are suffering from severe injuries, our compassionate North Dakota oil field injury lawyers will come to your home or the hospital to answer your questions. Contact us without delay to schedule a free consultation or call us at 701-515-9051. From our offices in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, we are proud to represent clients throughout Ward, Williams, McKenzie, Pierce and Mountrail Counties.