West Virginia Oil and Gas Well Injuries and Death Attorneys
Demand for natural gas is on the rise. Oil is always in demand, and oil and gas companies are doing everything they can to fill the demand. This is especially true in West Virginia, where the Marcellus Shale and other vast energy reserves have prompted numerous industry giants to invest heavily in our state. Unfortunately, this unprecedented growth comes at a cost. It often means moving too fast and cutting corners, dodging workplace safety regulations along the way. The tragic result has been a rise in injuries and deaths among oil and gas workers.
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., our attorneys have decades of experience helping West Virginia oil and gas workers and their families recover compensation for medical expenses and other costs. We handle all injury and death cases that occurred while working on the Marcellus Shale, on fracking operations, on horizontal drilling operations and similar operations. We are and nationally-recognized firm, and we have a successful track record with even the most complex cases. We routinely go up against powerful adversaries such as those in the oil and gas industry, and we work tirelessly to help ensure that our clients receive full and fair compensation, and that those responsible for their injuries are held fully accountable.
Common Oil and Gas Well Accidents in West Virginia
Oil and gas workers are exposed to numerous hazards on the job every day. These include:
- Fires and Explosions: The presence of flammable materials and the strong potential for leaks, blowouts, and other hazards make oil and gas wells particularly susceptible to explosions and fires. During the drilling process, combustible gases can leak out and react with the air, increasing the chances of an explosion.
- Slips and Falls: Workers are frequently in high elevations and working around slippery substances. If proper safety measures are not implemented and followed, these workers have an increased risk of being seriously injured from a fall.
- Being Struck By/Struck Against: Those working in close quarters with heavy objects, equipment, and machinery are at risk of being struck by falling or moving objects; such as pipes, chains, and tongs. Workers are also at risk of being thrown against hard surfaces, resulting in serious injuries.
- Being Caught In-Between: Oil and gas workers are often working in tight and enclosed spaces, and when something goes wrong, they are at risk of being trapped in one of these spaces, which can result in crush injuries.
- Rig Collapses: Oil and natural gas drilling rigs can collapse when they are carrying more than they were designed to carry. Another possible reason for a collapse may be the failure to perform a proper rig assessment.
- Transportation Accidents: Wells in which oil and gas are extracted through hydraulic fracking require large amounts of water for the process to work efficiently. Oftentimes, this water must be shipped in by truck from another site. All too often, these trucks are driven by tired and fatigued workers, increasing the risk of dangerous and deadly transportation accidents.
- Exposure to Toxic Substances: Oil and gas workers are frequently exposed to harmful chemicals on a regular basis. Examples include crude oil, natural gas, drilling fluids, solvents, and production chemicals. Repeated exposure to toxic substances can have many harmful, long-term effects on workers.
Oil and gas well accidents can result in any number of serious and catastrophic injuries, including:
- Burn injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Vision and hearing loss
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures/broken bones
- Amputations/loss of limbs
- Internal injuries
- Inhalation injuries
- Wrongful death
These injuries can take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on workers and their families. Medical expenses can run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this coupled with days, weeks or even months out of work can result in a financial hardship. In many cases, the injury is permanent and debilitating, meaning the injured worker may not be able to return to their job or participate in any type of gainful activity.
How Oil and Gas Companies Are Cutting Corners and Causing Accidents
There are a seemingly limitless number of corners that oil and gas companies will cut in order to increase output and profit. They will avoid the cost of equipment repair and replacement, instead working old machinery to the point at which it becomes hazardous. They will push workers to put in too many hours, leading to exhaustion that can result in accidents. They will even hire inexperienced workers and provide them with insufficient training, then send them out on the job where their lack of training endangers themselves and those around them.
While workers’ compensation may be a source of recovery in these cases, the negligence of the oil or gas company and the negligence of other parties often opens the door to other potential avenues for recovering compensation. These may include:
- A Third-Party Liability Claim: Energy companies often hire third-party subcontractors to perform various tasks at or near the drilling site. When a third party is responsible for injuries suffered by an oil or gas worker, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against that party.
- A Deliberate Intent Claim against the Employer: If an injured worker suffered harm because of the intentional actions or omissions of an employer or supervisor, they may have a “deliberate intent” claim against their employer. To be successful with this type of action, the worker must prove, among other things, that the employer or supervisor had actual knowledge of the hazardous condition that caused the injury, and that the underlying accident caused the worker to suffer serious injury or death. Deliberate intent claims carry a high burden of proof, and they should not be initiated without the assistance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
- A Product Liability Claim: If the injury was caused by faulty machinery or equipment, the injured worker may have a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, supplier, and/or distributor of the defective product.
Filing a legal action against a third party, employer, or product manufacturer can allow substantially higher recovery than what can be obtained from workers’ compensation, so it is in your best interest to enlist a lawyer with the ability to determine the appropriate type or types of claims to pursue. We have that ability.
Free Consultation with a Fatal Accident Lawyer in Charleston
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we are ready to go to work immediately to thoroughly investigate your case and aggressively pursue the just compensation you need and deserve. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our oil and gas rig injury and death lawyers in West Virginia.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.