When you get hurt or sick while performing your job duties, you could apply for benefits if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. Kherkher Garcia, LLP might be able to represent you if you’re an oil field worker and can no longer work due to the injury or illness you suffered. A disabling condition can result in financial strain from lost income, expensive medical bills, and other expenses associated with the accident.
If your employer does not carry workers’ comp insurance, you’ll likely only be eligible for compensation if someone else’s actions or negligence led to your injuries. In that case, you should not have to pay for the costs of healing your injuries when you weren’t at fault.
In either case, you deserve the maximum compensation available to compensate for your losses.
Texas is a hot spot in this country for oil production. Oil fields are a common sight, and thousands of people work on them. Although there are laws and protections to keep these workers safe, many companies don’t provide safe working conditions, properly maintain equipment, or provide adequate training to employees. This can result in catastrophic explosions, machinery failures, and well blowouts. If you get hurt, you could hold your employer liable in a lawsuit or pursue benefits from their workers’ compensation insurance company.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience helping accident victims get back on their feet after traumatic accidents on the job. When you hire us, we can relieve the burden you’re feeling by taking over the entire case and completing each step of the legal process. Your only responsibility will be to attend your doctor’s appointments so you can heal. We will be the advocate you need and fight hard for the justice you deserve.
Contact Kherkher Garcia, LLP before it’s too late to secure the compensation necessary to pay for your treatment. Call (713) 333-1030 today for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.
Why Hire Kherkher Garcia, LLP?
The Houston oilfield injury lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP have been providing quality representation to oilfield workers for over thirty years. We have access to various resources to gather the evidence we need to prove you deserve benefits, and we will use those resources to your benefit while we work on your case. We know how to locate crucial witnesses and find the right experts to assess the accident and establish the validity of your claim. When the time comes, we can seek the maximum available benefits or compensation so you’re not left with out-of-pocket expenses.
We provide personalized services to every accident victim. When you first meet with us about your case, we will get to know you and your specific needs to achieve your legal goals. You will receive one-on-one attention from start to finish of the process. We understand how important it is to treat each client as a priority while working towards a positive outcome. With our 24/7 answering service, you can depend on our team to be available whenever you need to talk to us.
Although our office is in Houston, we have successfully represented injured workers and their families throughout the country. We have the knowledge and skill to handle not only insurance claims but also complex litigation. We always adequately prepare for the possibility of going to trial, so your case doesn’t face any unnecessary delays. The Houston oilfield injury attorneys of Kherkher Garcia, LLP will always create legal strategies to try to get the results you want.
We know the physical, mental, and financial implications of an oilfield accident can seem overwhelming. If you can’t afford your bills, you could end up in serious medical debt. You likely think you won’t be able to hire a lawyer to represent you because the fees are too expensive. However, Kherkher Garcia, LLP believes that every accident victim deserves the opportunity to hold people accountable for their wrongdoing. We can take your case on contingency, meaning there are no upfront fees or costs. We don’t collect payment for our legal fees unless we secure compensation for you.
What You Should Do After an Oilfield Accident in Texas
If you’re injured while working on an oilfield, there are multiple steps you should take to protect your rights to compensation. In any workers’ compensation claim, you need evidence of the accident and injury. Without it, the insurance company could deny your claim. They need to see proper documentation of the specific injuries you suffered, how they happened, and the treatment you’re receiving.
Medical records are one of the most important pieces of evidence you can provide during an insurance claim. That means it’s necessary to seek treatment immediately after the accident. You should also inform your employer that you suffered a work-related injury or illness so they can notify their insurance company. If you don’t notify them within 30 days of the accident, you could lose your right to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
After your initial doctor visit, you might need to follow up for imaging tests, surgery, physical therapy, and other forms of treatment. It’s vital that you follow your physician’s recommendations. Skipping necessary appointments could work against you in a claim. The insurance representative won’t be on your side. They represent the interests of the insurance company they work for and will likely try to find valid reasons to deny your claim or provide minimal benefits. If you don’t have evidence of ongoing treatment, they may have the proof they need.
You will only collect ongoing wage replacement benefit payments if you’re actively treating your injury and are unable to return to work or earn your usual wages. You should continue with your medical treatment until you make a full recovery and can perform your job at total physical and mental capacity.
It’s critical that you also hire a Houston oilfield injury lawyer after your work-related accident. It’s difficult enough trying to recover from a disabling injury. Adding the responsibility of preparing legal documents, completing confusing paperwork, paying attention to deadlines, and communicating with the insurance company can cause more stress than you already feel. Kherkher Garcia, LLP can take over the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on what matters – healing and getting your life back on track.
Maintaining complete and accurate records is another essential step during an ongoing workers’ compensation claim. Although we can request copies of all documents associated with the accident, it’s helpful when clients forward anything they receive to us. Often, there’s a doctor bill or physical therapy note from one appointment that you might forget about. Giving them to us will allow us to submit every available record to the insurance company, so there isn’t anything missing.
There are various complications that could arise during an ongoing case. Even if you take the proper steps to recover compensation for your injuries, you might not recognize the common pitfalls that could result in lost benefits.
Mistakes are common after oilfield accidents. It’s hard to know how to handle them, especially if you don’t hire a Houston oilfield injury lawyer. Below are things you should always avoid during a claim or lawsuit, so you don’t ruin your chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.
- Don’t skip the independent medical exam. The insurance company might request that you see a designated doctor to resolve issues or questions about your disabling condition. Typically, they want someone selected by the Division of Workers’ Compensation to evaluate your injury or illness to determine if it actually prevents you from working. If you don’t attend this appointment, you could end up with a denied claim.
- Don’t discuss your case with the insurance company. The insurance representative might contact you to talk about the details of the accident. They want to obtain information that they can use to investigate and determine whether you deserve benefits. Unfortunately, if you say the wrong thing, it could negatively impact the outcome of your claim. Kherkher Garcia, LLP can handle all communication with the insurance representative on your behalf to prevent you from accidentally saying something to minimize your compensation.
- Don’t admit fault for the accident. If you file a lawsuit against your negligent employer or another party, a jury will review all documentation and evidence to determine whether the defendant should be held liable. Under the proportionate responsibility statute, the jury can reduce your monetary award if they believe your actions contributed to your injuries. For example, suffering $100,000 in losses when you’re 20 percent at fault means you can only seek up to $80,000 in compensation. If you’re more than 50 percent to blame, you’re prohibited from recovering compensation from the at-fault party.
- Don’t agree to a recorded statement. The insurance company might reach out to you for a recorded statement regarding the accident, your injuries, and other details. They will ask you questions that you must answer truthfully. However, recorded statements become permanent records. If you receive a request for a recorded statement, speak to your attorney first. It might not be necessary to provide one, but if you have to, we can walk you through the process and inform you about how to handle it.
- Don’t post anything online while your case is open. Whether you’re seeking compensation during a claim or lawsuit, you should avoid discussing it on social media or posting anything that could impact the outcome. Defense attorneys and insurance companies will review a person’s public social media accounts for critical evidence that could disprove your injury’s severity or prove that the accident didn’t cause your injury.
Common Causes of Oilfield Accidents
Kherkher Garcia, LLP can handle a range of cases involving oilfield injuries. In most situations, you deserve to receive compensation for the expenses you incurred from the accident. Various scenarios can lead to injuries, illnesses, and death. Even if you have experience doing your job and take the precautions necessary to keep yourself safe, someone else’s carelessness could result in a dangerous working environment.
The most common causes of oilfield accidents are:
- Explosions and fires – People in the oil industry face multiple dangers on the job site. Friction, open flames, and electrical sources could ignite vapors or gases released into the air, causing a fire or explosion.
- Fracking accidents – Fracking involves using high pressure to inject a fluid mixture or water into boreholes so petroleum and gas can flow through cracks created in the deep-rock formations. It’s a dangerous task that can cause chemical spills and other life-threatening accidents if the worker doesn’t know what they’re doing or works with poorly maintained equipment.
- Machinery failure – Oilfield workers use heavy machinery and equipment to drill or perform various other duties. Maintenance and repairs are necessary for proper upkeep. If there’s a defective part or system failure, the operator and anyone nearby could suffer severe injuries.
- Vehicle collisions – Commercial trucks can transport materials, equipment, and other items necessary to get the job done. If the driver doesn’t have experience, loads the vehicle incorrectly, or becomes distracted at the wheel, they could crash into other trucks or structures on the oilfield.
- Well blowouts – A blowout occurs during drilling when natural gas or crude oil releases from the well uncontrollably. This is often the result of a malfunctioning pressure control system.
- Hazardous areas – A range of dangerous working conditions can lead to injuries or death in an oilfield. When employees enter confined spaces to perform their jobs, they can suffer injuries or death from exposure to harmful chemicals, asphyxiation, being crushed by equipment, or becoming trapped in a fire.
- Slip/trip and fall – Injuries commonly occur from slipping or tripping on a hazard. Someone could fall off a platform that’s high off the ground if there aren’t safety devices in place. Slipping on spilled oil or other chemicals could cause broken bones and burns to the skin. Slip/trip and falls frequently happen despite the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations requiring safe walking spaces to prevent injury.
- Falling objects – Unsecured tools and other items can drop off a raised platform to the ground. Anyone walking underneath could suffer blunt force trauma to the head or body, resulting in severe injuries or death.
- Lack of protective features – Any equipment or structures oilfield workers must use to perform their jobs should contain specific features that prevent them from harm. For example, platforms should have guardrails or other devices to prevent falls.
- Negligent hiring practices – Companies responsible for hiring and retaining workers should perform background checks, drug and alcohol testing, and take other measures to ensure their employees can complete the tasks at hand correctly and safely. Hiring someone without experience or allowing a worker to continue doing their job despite a failed alcohol test is negligent and puts everyone at risk of harm.
If you suffer a work-related injury on an oilfield that is an accident, and your employer has workers’ compensation coverage, you should seek benefits. If an oilfield worker, their employer, or a malfunctioning machine caused the accident you were in, you have a right to seek benefits or compensation from the at-fault party. Your expenses should not be your financial obligation when someone else’s misconduct caused your injury or illness. If any of the above scenarios or another factor contributed to your disabling condition, do not hesitate to contact a Houston oilfield injury attorney from Kherkher Garcia, LLP.
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Common Injuries on Texas Oil Fields
When your job is inherently dangerous, it’s hard to avoid situations where you might get hurt. Even if you follow safety regulations and standards, someone else may not, and sometimes, accidents just happen. Another person or your employer could put you at risk of injury or death. Even if the accident only leads to minor physical damage, you could end up with medical expenses you can’t afford. When that happens, you should have an opportunity to seek the benefits you deserve to supplement your lost income and pay for your treatment.
The most common injuries that occur in oilfield accidents are:
- Loss of limb
- Neck and back injuries
- Broken bones
- Electrical and chemical burns
- Cancer and other diseases from inhaling harmful substances
- Spinal cord damage
- Psychological trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Soft tissue injuries, such as muscle sprains and torn ligaments
- Loss of vision or hearing from explosions
- Puncture wounds, bruises, and frostbite
- Heat exhaustion
- Crush injuries
- Permanent disability
Some injuries heal with proper medical intervention. Unfortunately, others leave victims with physical or mental impairments. Oilfield accidents can upend a person’s life and lead to chronic pain, loss of mobility, and physical limitations requiring long-term care and assistance.
The Houston oilfield injury lawyers of Kherkher Garcia, LLP understand the trauma you have experienced. It’s something that can be challenging to recover from. You won’t be alone in this fight with us by your side. We will be there for you every step of the way and offer the guidance and support you need.
Possible Compensation in a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If your employer provides workers’ compensation coverage, there are two main benefits you could seek.
Income benefits can replace some of the income you can’t earn due to your disability. There are four types available depending on the extent of your injury or illness.
Temporary income benefits are available if you can’t work for longer than seven days due to your job-related illness or injury. Payments are 70 percent of the difference between your average weekly wage before the accident and the income you can earn after.
Benefit payments end when one of the following scenarios occur:
- You begin earning the average income you made before the accident;
- You collected benefits for the maximum 104-week period; or
- A medical provider places you at maximum medical improvement, indicating that your condition has improved as much as possible.
Even if you return to work, you might still qualify for temporary income benefits if you had to switch to a different job or have limitations that prevent you from completing all necessary duties.
Impairment income benefits are for workers with an illness or injury that affects their body as a whole. Payments are 70 percent of your pre-disability average weekly wage. Your doctor will provide an impairment rating, determining the number of weeks you can collect payments.
An impairment rating is a percentage that indicates how your injury affects your body and its degree of permanency. Every percentage point is equal to three weeks of benefits. For example, if your doctor gives you an impairment rating of 10 percent, you will collect payments for up to thirty weeks.
Supplemental income benefits begin when your impairment income benefits end. The payments you receive will be 80 percent of the number you get when you subtract your post-accident wages from the average weekly wage you made before suffering a disabling condition. You only qualify for supplemental income benefits if:
- You have an impairment rating of at least 15 percent;
- You can show proof that you’re actively looking for a job;
- You don’t collect a lump sum payment from the insurance company; and
- You returned to work but make less than 80 percent of your average weekly wages or haven’t returned to your job at all.
Lifetime income benefits provide payments for the rest of your life if you suffered a debilitating injury, such as:
- Third-degree burns that cover most of both hands or one hand and the face;
- Total and permanent vision loss in both eyes;
- Traumatic brain injury causing incurable imbecility or insanity;
- Loss of both hands at or above the wrist;
- Spine injury resulting in complete and permanent paralysis of both legs, both arms, or one leg and one arm;
- Third-degree burns covering at least 40 percent of the body and requiring a skin graft;
- Loss of both feet at or above the ankle; or
- Loss of one hand at or above the wrist and one foot at or above the ankle.
Benefits are 75 percent of your average weekly wage before the accident and increase every year by 3 percent. Your payments the first year are capped at a maximum amount, but each year after that doesn’t have a limit.
When you’re collecting medical benefits, the insurance carrier will pay your doctors directly for all of your reasonable and necessary treatment. You can only see a doctor approved by the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to receive coverage. If you choose to see your own physician who is not on the approved list, you will have to pay for that appointment yourself.
If you begin seeing an approved medical provider and decide you want to change to someone else, you must submit a written request to the DWC and wait for their decision.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The compensation you receive in a lawsuit should adequately cover any losses you suffered from the accident, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of household services
- Past and future medical expenses
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Mental anguish
Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Texas has a two-year statute of limitations. That means you would have two years from the accident date to file your lawsuit if you want to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
You could sue a third party if they were responsible for the accident. For example, if machinery malfunctioned due to improper maintenance by the maintenance company, they could be liable. You could even file a lawsuit against your employer if they don’t offer workers’ compensation insurance and were negligent in causing the accident.
Oilfield Injury Frequently Asked Questions
The Houston oilfield injury attorneys of Kherkher Garcia, LLP will address your concerns and answer any questions you have about the legal process. This is a huge undertaking, and we want you to feel prepared. Below are common questions asked by injured workers that may help you understand your rights and how to handle your case.
- Lost inheritance, including how much the deceased could have saved if they were still alive
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of companionship, love, comfort, and society
- Mental pain and anguish surviving family had to endure
- Lost maintenance, care, support, advice, services, and counsel provided by the deceased
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, we have a team of dedicated Houston oilfield injury attorneys ready to go to battle for you. We know what it takes to win and won’t give up without a fight. Insurance companies or defense attorneys and the parties they represent do not intimidate us. We will aggressively pursue the money you’re owed, so you don’t face financial hardships from the accident.
If you suffered injuries in an oilfield accident in Houston, call Kherkher Garcia, LLP for your free initial consultation today at (713) 333-1030.