Short answer: To figure out who was at fault, our personal injury lawyers typically conduct a detailed and through investigation, which will usually include things like an analysis of industry standards, hiring experts in the field, serving document subpoenas and freedom of information requests (FOIAs), and conducting witness interviews.
Because we have handled so many personal injury cases, our law firm can often quickly figure out who was at fault for an incident. It may be a company man who gave improper instructions, a drilling crew who improperly assembled a rig that collapsed, or a service company that negligently operated a piece of machinery that crushed or burned someone.
Other times, the cause of an oilfield accident or explosion may be more subtle. It may have been unreasonable for a company to use a particular piece of equipment, because a newer, safer version existed. Workers on the ground—including the injured people—may not have even known about the safer alternative, because management didn’t tell anyone, usually because management was not yet ready to spend money on the alternative, even though it was safer.
We look for these sometimes hidden, contributing causes by consulting with industry experts from around the country. As an example, we have hired NASA scientists, safety experts who used to work in the oilfield, industrial hygienists who have designed safety programs for large companies, OSHA experts, and even ex-military personnel who have special knowledge about a particular product design or safe work practice.
We also consult with a library and database of industry standards and information we have at our personal injury law firm. This includes things like industry standards put out by the American Petroleum Institute (“API”), International Organization for Standardization (“IOS”), and American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”). In many catastrophic oilfield cases, we have discovered oilfield workers were violating standards they didn’t even know about, because management and corporate safety departments failed to pass along the information. That may be hard to believe in this day and age, but it happens more often than you think.
If this kind of investigation sounds expensive and difficult, that’s because it is. But it is not your burden to bear. In a standard personal injury or wrongful death case, we work on a contingency fee, which means we front the costs to hire such experts. You do not have to come out of pocket for these costs. We take the risk because we believe in your case, and we believe you should get justice.