Permian Basin Oilfield Accidents
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Permian Basin Oilfield Injury Attorneys
In the Permian Basin, most oilfield workers view oilfield jobs as opportunities for high pay and career advancement. Unfortunately, all too often, companies value profits over worker safety. The failure to operate safely has resulted in thousands of needless oilfield accidents, ranging from neck and back injuries, to paralysis, burns, traumatic brain injuries, and even death.
Our oilfield injury attorneys help workers and their families navigate the complicated process of what to do after a catastrophic injury or death. We do not hate the oil & gas business, but the claim and lawsuit process has always been a necessary party of it. Oil and oilfield service companies are not in the business of paying claims until they are proven. Our job is to help you do just that. And in some cases, the responsible companies do need to be punished, to save another workers and families from enduring the same hardship down the road. We are proud that our cases have changed the way many companies do business, making them safer.
In many cases, we have helped workers and oilfield families recover millions of dollars needed to provide medical care and lost wages, as well as to compensate for pain and suffering and other damages. Many of our clients did not even know the companies had done something wrong, until we uncovered a rule violation through our investigation. Many clients were told they would recover nothing because their employer had workers’ compensation insurance, when in fact, workers’ compensation coverage does not apply to the other companies who are present and contribute to an injury.
Our oilfield injury law firm helps clients work through these difficult issues. We provide these services on contingency fee, which means our clients do not have to pay out of pocket for our investigation and development of your claims. We only get paid when and if you win your case. Consultation calls are free and confidential, and calling us to learn your rights does not mean you have to file a claim.
Insurance & Workers’ Comp
Many people do not know that nearly all service companies, oil companies, and product manufacturers have insurance. These companies have resources set aside to compensate workers when something bad happens. But even though companies have resources set aside for worker injuries, most operators, oilfield service companies, and their insurance carriers will not pay full value to an injured worker without some kind of fight. That means injured oilfield workers and their families need to hire attorneys to make sure their future is provided for.
Despite what you may have been told, workers’ compensation does not prevent you from bringing any claim or lawsuit for your oilfield injuries. At worst, workers’ compensation may prevent you from filing a claim against your direct employer. But in the oilfield, most worksites have several companies working together. You typically have the right to bring a claim against the other companies even if your employer provides workers’ comp. Further, full or partial responsibility for an oilfield incident may lie with a company that was not even present when the incident occurred, such as a product manufacturer, inspection company, design company, or equipment rental company.
Figuring out whether you have an oilfield claim, and who is responsible, can be complicated. Our oilfield injury lawyers have represented countless injured workers and families in catastrophic oilfield injury and wrongful death claims, and we have recovered millions for our clients. We work on contingency fee (which means you do not pay us out of pocket), and communications with us are kept confidential. We know it is stressful and weird to call a lawyer for the first time, and we try to create an environment where you feel comfortable talking to us about your potential case.
The Permian Basin
The Permian Basin is a shale basin about 250 miles wide and 300 miles long, spanning parts of West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico.
The Permian Basin spans over 18 counties in Texas and 2 counties in New Mexico. The largest cities in the Permian Basin Region include:
Oilfield Operations In The Permian Basin
As of September 2022, the Permian Basin accounted for 344 out of a total 361 active oil rigs in Texas. This is by far the largest rig count of the “major plays,” which include:
Currently, Texas leads the nation in the number of oilfield service employees. With more activity in the oilfield, more risks and dangers present themselves for Texas Permian Basin oilfield workers.
Causes Of Permian Oilfield Injuries And Wrongful Deaths
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified common safety hazards that oilfield workers are frequently exposed to, including:
You can learn more about failures that lead to oilfield accidents here and here.
Permian Basin Oil Companies (“Operators”)
Most of the “supermajor” players operate and invest in the Permian Basin. These include Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips. However, roughly 80% of the Permian Basin output comes from medium and smaller independent producers. According to the Texas Railroad Commissions 2019 report, the following Permian Basin oil companies produced the largest amount of oil:
How Does An Oilfield Injury Lawyer Evaluate Your Case? How do I know if I have a case?
Most oilfield injury lawsuits require proof of two things: (1) a company or its employees must have done something that was not reasonable under the circumstances; and (2) you must have sustained damages.
Negligence or Wrongful Conduct/Activity
To start, if your oilfield injury (or death of a loved one) was caused by wrongful activity of a company or coworker, you may have a case. Typically, you must prove that something occurred, an action was taken, or there was a failure to act that was not “reasonable” under the circumstances. Often this is proven by showing that an error was made or a safety protocol was ignored which lead to your injury. It may not always be obvious. In many cases, personal injury lawyers and the experts they hire will uncover facts surrounding your injuries such as violations of industry standards or defective products. It is important to speak with experienced oilfield injury lawyers about the circumstances of your case – we know what to look for. Proving negligence or wrongful conduct is the first major element in any personal injury case, and the second major element is Damages.
In order to recover compensation for your injuries, you will need to calculate “damages.” Obvious damages include medical costs for any array of injuries. Again, It is important to consult an oilfield personal injury lawyer because we can help evaluate the potential damages in your case based on the following common categories:
- Past and future medical treatment – this includes initial treatment, and having medical experts evaluate the future costs of medical care that you have not yet received by the time your case goes to trial.
- Lost income and earning capacity – not only does this include time off work, but also your ability to earn income in the future based on the severity of your injuries and your skills / education / job opportunities post-injury.
- Pain and suffering / Mental anguish – putting a price on suffering is difficult. However, our experienced oilfield injury attorneys understand how juries and insurance companies value certain types of injuries and pain you have experienced.
- Disfigurement / Impairment – again, these can be difficult to calculate, but our experienced attorneys understand how to value the effects your injuries have had on your body and capabilities.
- Loss of household services / Loss of consortium – these damages have to do with your loss of ability to contribute to your family and enjoy your familial relationships.
Deadlines – How Long Do I have to File My Oilfield Injury Case
If you were injured as an oilfield worker in the Permian Basin, your deadlines for filing a lawsuit will most likely be calculated under the laws of Texas or New Mexico. The deadline to file a lawsuit is governed by each state’s statute of limitations. The deadline to file an oilfield injury claim or lawsuit can depend on the circumstances of your injuries, but below are the general deadlines that we commonly see in oilfield injury cases.
|State||Statute of Limitations||Source|
|Texas||2 years||Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.003|
|New Mexico||3 years||New Mexico Statutes § 37-1-8|
Again, it is vital that you consult an oilfield injury attorney to ensure that you timely bring your claim. There are many pitfalls involved when trying to find the correct entities and properly calculate timelines. The quicker you consult us, the safer your claims will be.
How Does the Process Work? How Long Will It Take to File Claims?
We generally see that oilfield injury cases take between 6 months and 3 years to resolve. Of course, this is subject to many different factors.
The general order of events is as follows:
- From the outset, your primary focus should be getting the appropriate medical treatment you need to treat your injuries. Once you sign up with our firm, we begin collecting medical records to evaluate the path of treatment and costs involved.
- Sometimes, we make a compensation demand to the company and/or their insurers early on based on the path of your treatment. We have had cases settle at this point. Unless the companies want to cover all contingencies and give you absolutely what you deserve (both for the present and in the long run), then we will typically have to start a “fight.”
- We will often file a lawsuit while you are continuing medical treatment. Most lawsuits start with the “discovery” phase in which we collect all information surrounding your employment, injury, and investigation of the injury. We may take sworn testimony (“depositions”) from the company, its representatives, and their employees to get the full picture of what actually occurred. The companies may also take your deposition to understand your side of things.
- We often retain oilfield and damages experts that will analyze: the cause of the accident/injuries; the medical treatment involved presently and in the future; the economics of you returning to the workforce for the remainder of your career; and so on.
- Typically, cases will then go to mediation, which is a formal settlement negotiation to attempt to avoid taking your case through to a jury trial. Sometimes, mediation negotiations are successful and the process will end there – with you receiving the compensation you deserve. Other times, mediation will prove unsuccessful and we will continue under the Court’s deadlines to bring your case to trial before a jury. The likelihood of mediation success constantly varies: it depends on the strength of your case (how badly they acted to cause your injuries), the value of your case (all damages considered, as discussed above), and each side’s evaluation of how the case will present itself to a jury.
- If negotiations are unsuccessful, our attorneys are fully prepared to take your case to trial so that a jury of your peers can learn about your case and award you compensation.
How Do I Stay Afloat During This Whole Process – Can I Recover Lost Wages for Time Off Work?
Most oilfield workers are employed by companies that carry workers’ compensation insurance that will take care of them if they are injured. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation often only pays a small percentage of the money you were making at the time of your injury.
This is why we attempt to file personal injury lawsuits instead of only collecting workers’ compensation. To file a personal injury lawsuit, you cannot directly sue a company that is paying you workers’ compensation. Therefore, we investigate who else was responsible, or “third parties” that were responsible for your injuries.
Again, this is why consulting an oilfield injury attorney is important. Often an injured worker will not know exactly which companies or entities were involved in causing the injuries. Our attorneys know how to investigate accidents and find the appropriate at-fault parties.
How Much Will it Cost to File An Oilfield Injury Lawsuit?
To hire experienced oilfield injury attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard, you will not pay us anything out of pocket.
In most cases, Morrow & Sheppard attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that our lawyers only collect fees out of the proceeds from your case. Our firm advances costs to prosecute the lawsuit.
How We Operate
We at Morrow & Sheppard have been fortunate to help many injured oilfield workers and their families in the event of a catastrophe. We understand the hardships that families face and the aggressive ways in which companies and insurers attempt to limit compensation and recovery for injured workers.
We are here to fight on your behalf. To better understand the process and evaluate your claims, call an experienced oilfield injury lawyer at Morrow & Sheppard. We look forward to working for you.
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Our experienced Houston personal injury attorneys want to understand your unique situation so we can provide legal guidance that will help you obtain a favorable result. We have experience handling a wide variety of personal injury cases. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation, contact us today! You don’t pay us unless we win your case.