Oil Rig Accident Attorneys in San Antonio
The most recent data from the Division of Workers’ Compensation at the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) reports almost 1,600 occupational injuries in Texas’s mining and natural resources industry in 2017. These injuries are primarily reported from private companies involved in oil and gas extraction and that employ more than 11 individuals. Each of the injured workers required at least a few days away from work, but almost half sustained severe enough injuries to miss more than a month of work.
Sustaining a serious injury on an oil rig brings with it an ample amount of emotional and financial stress on top of the physical pain that accompanies such an injury. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) oversees the state’s workers’ compensation insurance program and provides benefits for those who have been injured on a land-based oil rig, so long as the injured individual was not acting willfully negligent while working. Workers’ compensation benefits, however, do not usually compensate victims for the full cost of their injuries. Also, some carriers deny claims and reduce benefits. In other cases, a third party might be responsible for the injury.
If you have sustained an injury on a Texas oil rig, you need a skilled worker’s compensation attorney who has experience representing individuals who have been injured working in the state’s oil industry to advise you on the best path forward. Call one of the skilled oil rig accident attorneys at the Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation and to discuss your case.
Common Causes of Oil Rig Injuries
Individuals who work on an oil rig may sustain a wide variety of injuries. TDI’s Division of Workers’ Compensation reports that in 2017 more than half of the injuries sustained by those that work in oil and gas extraction jobs were fractured bones and soft tissue damage, such as sprains, strains, and tears. However, oil rig injuries, especially if an explosion takes place, have the potential to be much more severe and even fatal. Workers might suffer from amputations, burns, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, back injuries, and more. Here are some of the most common scenarios that may lead to an injury on an oil rig:
- Equipment malfunction. Equipment that hasn’t been inspected or maintained properly can fail and injure workers. Other equipment might spark and cause a fire or explosion around flammable gas or oil and result in serious burns.
- Unintentional falls. Working on an oil rig involves significant risk. Working on the stabbing board is especially dangerous; when workers fall, they may strike numerous objects on their way down, resulting in broken bones, back and neck injuries, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and more.
- Falling objects. Members of the deck crew might experience impact from falling objects, such as tools or debris from an explosion. Getting struck by a falling object is often fatal, but those who survive might end up with brain injuries, amputations, cuts, and broken bones.
- Exposure to toxic substances. The equipment and machinery on an oil rig contain acids and toxic chemicals that are dangerous, particularly if a worker is exposed to them for long periods of time. Prolonged exposure to these substances might cause respiratory issues, brain damage, and other health issues.
Seeking Compensation for Oil Rig Accidents
If you have been injured on an oil rig and cannot work, you might be worried about how you are going to pay your monthly bills, not to mention the medical bills that likely continue to pile up. How you seek compensation for injuries from an oil rig accident in Texas depends on whether you were working on land or at sea. Land-based workers need to file a workers’ compensation claim; whereas those who work offshore need to file a claim under the Jones Act. An experienced oil rig accident attorney will guide you through the claims process and help ensure that you are on the right path given your individual situation. Below we discuss the basics:
Workers’ Compensation in Texas
Injured workers must file an injury report within 30 days and a formal claim within a year from the date of their injury. If the symptoms of the injury weren’t immediate, the same deadlines apply once the employee realized—or should have realized—that the injury was work-related. Fault has no bearing on whether a worker receives benefits. Texas workers’ compensation insurance provides four types of benefits for injured workers or for families who have lost a loved one who worked in an oil field:
- Income benefits include different types of benefits based on the severity of the injury. Temporary income benefits (TIBs) are 70 percent of the difference between your average weekly wage and the wages that you are able to earn after your injury. Impairment income benefits (IIBs) are based on the percentage that a doctor finds you to be permanently impaired. You will receive three weeks at 70 percent of your average weekly wage for each one percent of impairment. For example, if you are 20 percent permanently impaired, you will receive IIBs for 60 weeks. Supplemental income benefits (SIBs) are for those who are impaired more than 15 percent; this number is determined by subtracting 80 percent of your average weekly wage and your weekly wages after your injury. Those with catastrophic injuries are eligible for lifetime income benefits (LIBs) at the rate of 75 percent of their average weekly wage, with a three percent increase each year.
- Medical benefits cover the cost of medical treatment for your work-related injury.
- Burial benefits partially cover funeral expenses, if a worker lost his or her life in a work-related accident.
- Death benefits partially compensate families for some of a decedent’s lost income.
Texas does not require companies to carry workers’ compensation insurance, so if your employer does not have such coverage, you cannot file a workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, workers’ compensation does not cover 100 percent of your losses or compensate you for non-economic losses, so you should work closely with a personal injury attorney to maximize the likelihood that you are able to recover compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a law that extends the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to individuals who sustain an injury while working at sea. If you are injured on an oil rig, you are entitled to bring a personal injury claim against your employer for maintenance, cure, and non-economic losses. Maintenance is the value of room and board to a worker that was provided at sea, and cure is the value of necessary medical treatment, regardless of fault.
If you can demonstrate that your injury was a result of negligence on the behalf of your employer, you may be eligible to seek compensation for the following:
- Permanent disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
Contact a Skilled Oil Rig Accident Lawyer in San Antonio
If you were injured on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico or in a Texas oil field, or lost a family member who worked on an oil rig in one of those areas, you need the experience and guidance of a skilled attorney. Call the Law Offices of George Salinas, with an office in San Antonio, at (210) 225-0909, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation and to discuss the details of your case.