Filing for Wrongful Death After an Oilfield Accident

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If a loved one dies while working on an oilfield, surviving family members may have a right to financial compensation. The type of legal claim is called wrongful death.

Knowing how to go about filing and pursuing the claim can be difficult.

We are experienced wrongful death attorneys for oilfield accidents. At Haun Mena, it’s important to us that you understand how to file a claim. Let’s talk about oilfield accident fatalities and filing for wrongful death.

Deaths in the Oilfield and Gas Extraction Industry

The CDC reported 69 fatalities in oil and gas extraction in 2017. Texas has the most oil rigs and the highest number of fatalities by far. In Texas alone, there were 44 deaths in 2017.

Deaths occur in similar percentages across adult age groups and industry experience levels.

Well servicing is the most common type of work performed when a fatal accident occurs. Well servicing accounts for 62% of deaths, while drilling operations cause 9% of oilfield industry deaths.

The Haun Mena law firm represents families in oilfield wrongful death claims. If you have lost a loved one working in an oilfield, our attorneys want to help you. Contact us for a confidential consultation with our professional and understanding team.

Causes of Wrongful Death in the Oil and Gas Industry

Of the deaths that occur in the oil and gas industry, there are several common causes:

  • Vehicle accidents, both on a roadway or on-site – 42%
  • Struck by objects – 13%
  • Caught between or crushed – 9%
  • Struck by falling object – 4%
  • Explosions and fires – 14%
  • Harmful substance, environmental exposure – 6%
  • Fall from height – 6%
  • Alcohol or drug poisoning – Less than three deaths in 2017, exact number unknown
  • Cardiac deaths – Less than three deaths in 2017, exact number unknown
  • Electrocutions – Less than three deaths in 2017, exact number unknown

Types of deaths in oil and gas industry work may surprise you. Vehicle accidents are the most common type of death in the oil and gas industry. They far outpace explosions, fires, and struck-by incidents. Whatever the cause of death, if you have lost a loved one, you may have the right to receive financial compensation by filing a wrongful death claim.

Source: CDC: Event type causing worker fatality as captured in FOG, 2017 

Losing a loved one because of an oilfield accident or injury is an unimaginable tragedy. There are things that you can do, like receiving fair compensation. Our attorneys can handle everything related to your case for you. It is our goal to pursue all avenues for you in the best way possible.

Bringing an Oilfield Accident Wrongful Death Claim

An oilfield accident wrongful death claim is the way for the victim’s family to receive compensation. However, any claim involving a death occurring in an oilfield is inherently more complex than a fatality occurring in another industry. Oil and gas work is heavily regulated by state and federal authorities. There are laws and regulations on both levels that impact how to bring a wrongful death claim.

State vs. federal law

Filing for wrongful death involving an oilfield begins with examining whether the case should be brought under state or federal law. The Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) are a few of the federal laws that may apply.

Determining which body of law the claim falls under is critical. There are significant differences between Jones Act Lawsuits and state personal injury claims. Differences between federal and state law are vital to filing your case correctly and knowing what needs to be proven to make the case successful.

The body of law that applies may determine what court you file the claim in. It determines what laws you need to reference in your filing documents as the basis for compensation. In turn, these laws dictate what must be proven to receive compensation and what compensation can be awarded.

Workers’ compensation vs. personal injury for oilfield deaths

Another key question to answer in any wrongful death claim involving an oilfield accident is whether to pursue the claim as a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury. Workers’ compensation provides limited wrongful death benefits without the worker having to prove employer negligence. A personal injury claim requires proof of negligence but allows for more types, and greater compensation than workers’ compensation typically allows.

The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.002 creates a legal cause of action for wrongful death resulting from a wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. Damages may include:

  • Financial support
  • Economic losses
  • Mental anguish and emotional suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of inheritance

Texas law also authorizes a survival action brought in the name of the deceased for losses, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain associated with injuries
  • Mental suffering before death
  • Reasonable funeral and burial expenses

Oilfield work often involves many parties, employers, and contractors. The party responsible for negligence causing death may not be the employer. This may open the opportunity for the family to bring a personal injury wrongful death claim.

Our attorneys can help you evaluate all the options and determine the best course of action. Contact us immediately – especially before beginning a workers’ compensation claim. There are important time deadlines for all claims, and we want to help you pursue your case in the best way, complying with time deadlines and filing requirements.

Attorneys for Filing for Wrongful Death After an Oilfield Accident

The Haun Mena attorney team represents families filing for wrongful death after an oilfield accident. We are experienced litigators, ready to help you evaluate the state and federal laws that may impact how you bring your claim.

You may deserve significant financial compensation – but you must act to receive it. Don’t wait any longer. Start your case with a consultation with our legal team. See what you may receive in compensation and begin today.

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