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Posted in School Bullying on April 15, 2017
Bullying is a problem that’s been around for centuries, but the type of threats and the severity of consequences have changed in recent years. Today’s students can become victims of cyberbullying, or using electronic devices and equipment such as cell phones and computers to bully a victim via text message, email, or social media. Cyberbullying has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even suicide in young students. Unfortunately, the halls of many middle schools are not safe from this form of bullying or others.
Recent Cyberbullying Investigation at Curran Middle Schools
In February 2017, police launched an investigation at Curran Middle School in the face of new threats against students. While they made no arrests, they did receive a confession from two students who admitted to creating a social media account. The students said they created the account for attention and had no intention of doing anything. According to the original complaint a few months ago, there had been multiple social media threats listing students targeted for a supposed school shooting and the dates on which the shootings would occur.
As of now, there is no confirmation that new findings relate to these prior threats. However, police have identified one 14-year-old girl as a suspect. Ultimately, the District Attorney’s Office will decide whether a crime took place. Investigators are still digging into the source of the original threats. While police say they don’t believe Carron Middle School students are in any danger, many parents are keeping their children home from school. This recent cyberbullying event raises many questions and concerns about bullying.
The Dangers of School Bullying
Bullying is a real threat to students. In spite of efforts of communities, schools, and parents to put an end to bullying, it still pervades thousands of schools all over the world. “Bullying” describes any type of intimidation one person imposes on another. Students may become victims of verbal, physical, or psychological bullying. All forms can have serious ramifications on a person’s life, including:
- Physical harm and injuries
- Health problems and complaints
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Poor self-confidence and self-image
- Emotional and mental trauma
- Feelings of isolation from friends and family
- Problems with fear, anxiety, and depression
- Turning to drugs or alcohol to cope
- Problems in school or with grades
- Loss of interest in regular activities
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
In the event of bullying, parents may be able to hold a school liable for damages. This may be the case if a negligent staff member contributed to your child’s harm, such as by failing to supervise children or take reasonable action to prevent bullying. The courts may hold a school liable for negligence or intentional acts if teachers contribute to bullying or student harassment.
When to Speak to an Attorney
Not all cases of school bullying are grounds for personal injury lawsuits, but many are. Most school bullying attorneys offer free initial consultations, giving you the opportunity to speak to a licensed lawyer about your child’s particular situation. If the lawyer believes your case has merit due to someone else’s negligence or intent to harm, you may want to pursue a lawsuit against the school or school district. A lawsuit can result in recovery for your child’s damages, including his/her personal injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
A local attorney can help you learn your rights as a parent and your options moving forward. An attorney can also file a claim against the school district on your behalf and represent you during settlement negotiations and a trial if your case goes to court. For more information about a bullying case at Curran Middle School, speak to the attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates of Bakersfield.
Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2017
During the time President Trump has been in office, he has made big strides toward changes in American immigration policies. His administration is focused on three goals for immigration reform: to create a wall across the southern border, to enforce laws in accordance with our Constitutional system of government, and to improve jobs, wages, and security for all Americans. As President Trump’s immigration policies tighten, undocumented immigrants fear for their futures. In this time of great uncertainty, Bakersfield attorneys with Rodriguez & Associates are offering free legal advice and representation.
Daniel Rodriguez and His Mission to Protect Immigrants
Daniel Rodriguez of Rodriguez & Associates grew up in a family of migrant farm workers. He has worked and lived in multiple states across the U.S, working in the fields and holding a variety of other jobs while putting himself through college and law school. His father could not read or write English or Spanish, and his mother only had three years of schooling. Daniel’s upbringing gives him a unique perspective as a lawyer in Bakersfield. He knows the importance of hard work and the value in protecting those who cannot protect themselves.
Today, Daniel is dedicated to helping America’s immigrants navigate the complex and often frightening new immigration laws. As President Trump orders 10,000 more immigration agents and gives local police officers more power to assist in immigration law enforcement, immigrants need more legal help than ever. Police are conducting mandatory vehicle checkpoints and making house calls to find and detain undocumented immigrants. Daniel and a panel of 15 lawyers recently held an open-to-the-public panel at California State University in Bakersfield to offer free legal advice for people in this situation.
Undocumented and documented immigrants face difficult questions and legal considerations, many of which are changing on a weekly basis under President Trump’s administration. During the free panel and in his professional time since, Attorney Rodriguez has offered counsel and legal advice to immigrants regarding deportation fears, documentation processes, police investigations, and bullying and harassment of minorities in hostile environments. It is a matter that hits close to home for Rodriguez, who wants to do everything possible to protect minorities.
Legal Counsel from Attorney Rodriguez in Bakersfield
Daniel Rodriguez and his team of local injury attorneys have a mission to help immigrants understand their rights and how to protect themselves and their families during this tumultuous time in America. At the public meeting, he acknowledged the unfortunate impacts of President Trump’s campaign when one mother mentioned the bullying and harassment of her daughter in school due to her race. The bullies called the young girl by a racial slur and said her family would get deported “once the wall went up.”
Rodriguez informed the woman that what her daughter is going through is illegal – the law protects children from physical, verbal, and psychological bullying in school. He recommended she file a complaint and keep documentation of the complaint. This is just one example of how Rodriguez is shedding light on the legal rights of immigrants.
The main point of conversation of the night, however, was what to do if confronted by police. The panel advised immigrants not to speak to police officers and not to answer the door if police come knocking. They also said to always be polite, even if you do not agree with why or how the officer is confronting you. Immigrants should not give police any excuse to take the situation to the next step. Staying calm, quiet, and courteous can prevent you from giving too much information to police and getting into further legal trouble. For any immigration questions, concerns, or legal needs, please come to the law offices of Rodriguez & Associates in Bakersfield.
Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2017
From Mt. Pinos to Sunday Peak and everywhere in-between, Bakersfield, and the larger Kern County area, has numerous options for fantastic hiking. Kern County is home to strenuous hikes at high elevation as well as leisurely hikes perfect for families and kids. No matter what kind of hike you are looking for in the area, it’s always important to take necessary safety precautions.
Best Hikes in Kern County
The southern end of the Sierra Nevadas and Sequoia National Park are within Kern County and a short drive from Bakersfield proper. Challenging hikes with stunning views are not too far away. Some of the best within Kern County include:
- Owen’s Peak – At 8,453 feet, it is the tallest mountain in Kern County. The trail is nearly 13 miles roundtrip, and there is more than 3,700 feet of elevation gain. It’s a steep trail as well, so be prepared.
- Wind Wolves Preserve Trail – This trail is just shy of eight miles round trip, and even features a waterfall. Dogs are allowed as well.
- Hart Park Trail – Replete with picnic tables, grills and boat rentals, this two mile loop trail circuits Kern River, and is perfect for an afternoon jog or leisurely stroll with your pooch.
- Piute Peak – This prominent peak is 8,440 feet, and the road to the trailhead can be rocky at points but offers beautiful scenery and the chance to see wildlife.
- Badger Gap and Little Tenant Spring Trails – This is accessible year-round, allows dogs and is a little less than 10 miles roundtrip.
- Tecuya Mountain – This peak lies on the southern end of Kern County, and is about 7,160 feet tall. At a little less than five miles round trip, it’s a short but moderately steep hike.
There are many more in Kern County, particularly near Fort Tejon State Historic Park and Sequoia National Forest. Find what suits your abilities and enjoy yourself.
Kern County Hiking Safety Tips
Given the hot temperatures of Central California and the high winds that can accompany them, it’s important to be prepared when going on a hike that will last more than a couple hours. Water and food are obvious necessities; dehydration starts as mildly as a headache, but if left untreated can manifest into confusion and disorientation. In the California sun, a lack of water can prove fatal.
If you feel dehydration coming on or notice these symptoms in someone else, stop moving and drink water until they feel better, or if no water is available, turn around and go home immediately. Other provisions such as these are recommended:
- A cell phone is important, but can lose battery. Have a trail map and/or a compass just in case.
- Extra clothing in case of weather changes.
- Keep an eye on the weather. The worst place to be during a storm is on an exposed trail or ridge.
- For longer hikes or those that cross streams, rivers and snow, an extra pair of dry socks will help you avoid blisters.
- Sunscreen. Even on cloudy or cool days, the trails of Central California often do not supply sufficient shade.
- It can’t be stressed enough; bring 1-2 liters of water to stay properly hydrated.
It’s vital to tell someone where you are going, just in case of emergency. The worst thing that could happen, on top of being lost, is no one knowing where to look for you. Some common injuries that can occur on a hike:
- Blisters – Hiking with these is more than a nuisance; it can make it impossible. Dry socks are crucial.
- Sunburn – The sun is harsh at high, dry altitudes, so sunscreen is important for minimizing the skin’s exposure to UV rays.
- Bug bites – These are particularly common if hiking in wooded areas. Bring spray if you know they’ll be present.
- Twisted ankle – Good footwear provides comfortable and even support will help prevent this, even if you encounter slippery rock or muddy ground.
- Exhaustion – This usually comes with similar symptoms as dehydration, and greatly increases the likelihood of getting lost.
A hike is a great avenue for exercise and exploration, but being properly prepared will prevent injuries, dehydration and getting lost. Take your time, know when to turn around, stay with the group and the experience that much more enjoyable.
Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2017
The people have a right to know. The job of a journalist is to report need to know information to the public, but sometimes, the means by which journalists obtain their information can fall on decidedly muddy moral grounds. This is particularly evident here in California, where paparazzi make a living disguising and hiding themselves in order to sneak pictures of celebrities.
The First Amendment provides broad protections to members of the press, but if a person feels harassed by a reporter, what is the law?
Expectation of Privacy
The general rule here for all citizens is whether you have an expectation of privacy. It’s not expected that a celebrity or politician will have the same amount of privacy as other people, yet they still have rights meant to protect what privacy they have. It is allowed to film, photograph or record what is seen and heard in public places. This idea has recently been given much scrutiny regarding the filming of police, specifically in the event of police brutality, a right which has been upheld by the courts.
The area of privacy which has become most important is online. The information we store and share online can be stolen by someone with sinister purposes, from which it could take months to recover personally and financially. As of right now, the law states that we have a reasonable expectation of privacy online, but Internet Service Providers and some politicians are looking to change that line of thinking.
Can a Reporter Be Held Liable for Harassment Claims?
Where a journalist may see surveillance, their subject may see stalking. The consensus amongst reporters is that going undercover and obtaining a job at a farm in an effort to spotlight animal abuse is fine, but using long microphones or binoculars to spy on a celebrity in an effort to obtain juicy gossip is unethical. Er go, the effect the news has on the health and safety of others must be the greater goal.
Intrusive actions such as staking out the home, following them, or recording them in private places can be labeled as harassment. A reporter can absolutely be held liable for these claims, particularly in California where two anti-surveillance laws have been passed:
- Senate Bill 606 – Passed in 2013, this makes the penalty for harassing the children of a person purely because of that person’s status much more harsh. Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry testified in favor of this bill, which makes it a misdemeanor to alarm, annoy, torment or terrorize the child. The maximum punishment for a first offense is jail for one year and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Senate Bill 856 – Passed in 2015, this bill made it illegal to operate drones on or near private property. Doing so would make that person liable for invasion of privacy, and the liable person could be sued for their actions.
Even if these activities occur in public, the reporter could still be held liable for harassment claims if their actions are deemed overzealous, intrusive, or of a stalking nature.
Bakersfield Speedway is renowned for its intimacy; spectators feel close to the action, which makes it a memorable experience, but also presents some added danger. Despite the precautions of a catch fence as well as the space between the fence and the first row of seats, an injury is still a possibility for the fans in attendance. For any large event, there are a number of safety precautions racing fans can take to ensure they have an enjoyable experience.
The Charlotte Observer reported that approximately 2,000 people are injured every year at a racetrack, and between 1990-2010, 46 people died. It’s unclear how many of those injuries stemmed from an accident on the track, but NASCAR is consistently seeking ways to improve fan safety, particularly when it relates to the catch fence.
Improvements to all racetracks in this regard have been paramount in the last 15 years, particularly due to a string of accidents in which fans were injured by race car debris. Enormous strides have been made in determining the proper angle of the walls, the height of the catch fence and the material it’s made out of which it’s made to prevent spectator injuries.
Bakersfield Speedway Safety Tips
Another thing that makes Bakersfield Speedway unique is that it’s a clay track only one-third of a mile around. The clay increases the odds of debris and dirt flying into the stands, which is just one of many things for which spectators should be prepared. Veteran attendees may know this, but some safety tips for racing fans at Bakersfield Speedway include:
- Ear plugs and safety glasses are recommended to protect against loud noise and dirt.
- Sit further back, especially with small children. It’s better to be safe than sorry and although being right up on the track may be exciting, the extremely loud noises and potential for flying debris may not be worth it.
- Stay alert – while it’s tempting to let loose at a race, it’s important to pay attention to what is going on around you. Watch for car wrecks or flying debris and cover your head in the case of a crash.
- An employee or security staff will always be nearby, report any emergencies to them as soon as possible.
- When parking your car, do not leave any valuables in plain sight and be sure to lock all doors.
- Only buy tickets from reliable vendors.
- You may bring a blanket, seat cushion and extra clothing if needed.
If you have been drinking, don’t drive. Find another way to get home. There are plenty of options for sober transportation in Bakersfield:
- Rideshare options
- Public transportation
Large crowds at racing events can also present their own challenges. If attending the race with children, be aware of their location at all times and don’t let them wander away from the group. Just in case it does happen, it’s a good idea to decide on a rendezvous point beforehand. While a concession stand or bathroom may just be a few feet away, the large crowds make it easy for a child to become disoriented or lost. Use the buddy system and make sure they are never left alone while visiting Bakersfield Speedway.
If an injury does occur at a racetrack like Bakersfield Speedway due to outside circumstances like poor security, insufficient fencing, or dangerous conditions, contact the personal injury attorneys of Rodriguez & Associates. Our skilled lawyers have experience handling a range of injury and accident cases across Kern County.
Posted in Police Brutality on February 27, 2017
The town of Bakersfield, California, is one of the deadliest in the nation – threatened by those who are sworn to protect it.
The city made national headlines in November 2014 when 200 people gathered on the streets to protest the death of James De La Rosa. The unarmed 22-year-old was tasered and shot multiple times by four police officers, creating a shockwave of outrage across the nation. But for locals, the news was sad – yet unsurprising.
According to an analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union, using data from 2008 to 2014, Kern County (home of Bakersfield) experiences more police killings per capita than any other city in California. This story was much more than met the eye, as more recent reports have found that Bakersfield has more police killings than any other area in the entire nation.
Journalists at The Guardian first broke the story when they found that 13 people died at the hands of police in Kern County, home to just 875,000 people, in the first few months of 2015. In comparison, nine people died in all five counties of the NYPD’s jurisdiction, where the population is 10 times higher and there are 23 times more law enforcement officers at work.
A County Plagued by Violence
Officials posit this trend may be due, at least in part, to the fact that Bakersfield is a high-crime area that is plagued by gang-violence, drug-addiction, and epidemic levels of poverty. The city’s homicide rate is 75% higher than the national average and robbery rates are nearly double. Burglary rates are more than double the national average, and the rate of car theft is 300% higher than the national average. Violent crimes, such as those involving a firearm, occurred at a rate roughly equal to one a day in 2014.
These facts don’t provide justification for the 54 police killings over the past decade in Bakersfield, however. Most of these killings were ruled as justified by internal review – judgments made by the same departments that employ the officers who fired the shots.
Shocking History of Misconduct
Eyewitness accounts of police behavior during and following police shootings point to gross misconduct and unethical behavior. Following the shooting of De La Rosa, a police officer was observed wiggling the corpse, which was resting on a hospital gurney. The police officer then said, “I love playing with dead bodies.”
Another police officer on the force killed three people within a three-month span in 2010, including an unarmed 15-year-old boy. Another officer had been involved in four fatal shootings between 2013 and 2015, including De La Rosa’s. None of the deceased were carrying lethal firearms when they were shot: two were unarmed, one was carrying a BB gun, and one was carrying a tire iron. In one killing, an officer opened fire on his own confidential informant during a planned operation when one of the criminals whom the informant was helping the police apprehend pulled out a gun.
A Lack of Departmental Oversight
Perhaps most astonishing is the lack of punishment and oversight for these officers. All were cleared by internal review, and the department itself has not been subject to external scrutiny. These killings and trends are a matter of public record, so why haven’t state and federal officials intervened to investigate foul play within the department? This is, in part, what is driving protests across the country. It represents a failure of not only the department itself, but the system as a whole, which allows unarmed men and women to be shot on the streets by those who have sworn to protect them.
None of these issues are easy to solve, but at the very least, they merit further investigation.
For victims and the families of police shooting victims in Bakersfield, there is another way to get justice. The police misconduct lawyers at Rodriguez & Associates handle police shooting cases and will fight to get you and your family compensation and hold the police department accountable for their actions.
Posted in Oil Field Worker Injuries on February 15, 2017
Employees are involved in workplace injuries every day. According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3 million workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015, or a rate of 3 for every 100,000 employees in the United States. Some jobs are naturally more dangerous than others, and the oil and gas industry is near the top of the list. The same report found that oil and gas workers sustain injury at a rate five times that of the general population. The rate of oil and gas field injuries is rising – up 27 percent from 2014.
Deepwater Horizon – Only the Tip of the Iceberg
BP made national headlines in 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon station went up in flames, killing 10 workers and dumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf region. The area still feels the impact of the incident today. But this media attention–grabber is only part of the story. Onshore drilling is one of the most dangerous jobs of all, routinely killing or injuring workers.
An investigative report from the Houston Chronicle found that the federal government fails oil and gas employees. Between 2007 and 2012 – considered the beginning of the “fracking boom” – 663 oil and gas workers lost their lives on the job. Nearly half of these were in Texas. In 2012 alone, there were 65 workplace deaths and 82 crush injuries, 79 dismemberments, 92 burns, and 675 broken limbs.
The federal government is largely to blame for failing to prevent these deaths. The Chronicle report highlighted some of the worst offenses:
- The federal government has not implemented safety standards and procedures for onshore drilling in 22 years, even as offshore drilling incidents such as Deepwater Horizon had health and safety officials clamoring for more oversight.
- The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is only required to investigate incidents that involve loss of life or require at least three workers to be hospitalized. These investigations accounted for only 150 of the 18,000 injuries and illnesses in Texas between 2007 and 2013.
- When OSHA did conduct an investigation, they found safety violations in nearly 80 percent of accidents in Texas alone. They also concluded that many could have been prevented with safer equipment or procedures.
What Are the Most Dangerous Tasks on the Job?
Oil workers are vulnerable to all manner of injury, but the most common are not what you might think. While explosions catch national headlines, the most dangerous tasks in the industry are:
Most workers aren’t killed in the fields or on the rig, but on the highway. According to a New York Times report, more than 300 workers have been killed on the highway in the past decade. The publication cited the case of Timothy Roth, who began a four-hour commute back to his home in West Virginia after completing a 17-hour shift in the field. Just 10 minutes in, the driver fell asleep and crashed into a highway barrier. He was killed instantly.
The federal government does not regulate duty hours as they do for truck drivers. In fact, many oil workers are expected to make hours-long commutes after working shifts that exceed 15 hours.
2. Operating Heavy Machinery
Oil and gas companies use heavy equipment such as derricks, drillers, and hoists on a regular basis. Combine this with fatigue from working long shifts, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Oil and gas workers suffer dismemberment, broken bones, and crush injuries regularly – and none of these incidents make the national news. Our federal government must take steps to protect these vulnerable workers and decrease the number of preventable injuries and deaths.
If you or a loved one has been injured while working as an oil or gas worker near Bakersfield, contact the personal injury firm of Rodriguez & Associates for experienced and skilled legal representation.
Posted in car accidents on February 10, 2017
With each new year comes a flurry of new legislation designed to keep motorists safe and preventable injuries at bay. California driving laws are becoming more stringent, and citizens must be vigilant. If you don’t want to pay any of your hard-earned cash on tickets this year, here’s what you need to know.
Phone Use While Driving
California has long had a texting ban and is one of only a few states that ban cell phone use outright while driving. Legislators have now passed a rule to address one of the loopholes in the law – and you might not like it.
Previously, citizens could fight a ticket in court by saying they were using their mobile device to navigate with GPS. Now, officials say you can’t be holding your phone in your hand for any reason. This includes using apps and even switching music on your playlist via Bluetooth. Assemblyman Bill Quirk, who drafted the law, said it serves one purpose: getting the phone out of your hand and your eyes on the road.
A study by the California Office of Traffic Safety found that in 2016, 1 in 8 drivers paid as much attention to their smartphone as they did to the road. They also estimate that distracted driving plays a role in approximately 80% of crashes. This prompted Quirk as well as other legislative and enforcement officials to take action.
Loopholes in the previous law technically allowed motorists to scan Facebook, Snapchat, and other popular apps while driving as well as using GPS to navigate.
If you can’t get through your commute without listening to Spotify or using your navigation system to avoid traffic, never fear: the new law stipulates that motorists can mount their phones to listen to music or use GPS. The mount must be located in one of three places: the dashboard, the lower right corner of the windshield, or the lower left corner. Drivers may use only one finger to tap or swipe the screen. Lawmakers hope the new law will minimize distracted driving accidents throughout the state and help keep people safe.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting
California lawmakers have finally come to a consensus about the practice of lane splitting (riding a motorcycle down the white stripe between lanes of slow-moving traffic). The practice has been in limbo for years – it wasn’t technically illegal, but it also wasn’t defined as legal. The new measure stipulates certain measures for lane splitting to make it safer. California Highway Patrol is working with local motorcycle organizations to determine what is and what isn’t proper practice for riding in between cars.
For example, if traffic is at a standstill, having a lane-splitting motorcycle travelling at 60 miles per hour is dangerous for both the cyclist and other motorists. Lawmakers expect the law to evolve as they continue talks with motorcycle experts throughout the state.
Preventing Bus Tragedies
Lastly, California lawmakers have passed new regulations regarding inspections of tour and charter buses. The measures come in response to a rash of fatal bus crashes that have plagued the state in recent years. School bus operators will also have to carry out additional procedures to ensure children are never left behind on vacant vehicles.
Improving Child Safety
2017 also brings a revision to child safety seat laws. Effective immediately, children will be required to remain rear-facing in their car seats until their second birthday. Exceptions to the law include children who are over 40 lbs. or over 40 inches tall. Virtually every driver on the road will be affected by the new regulations in some way. Mount your phones and flip your car seats, and pay attention to evolving motorcycle regulations to avoid tickets from the CHP this year.
It is not uncommon for automobile insurance companies to deny accident claims. A claimant may receive a denial if the company believes the driver could have avoided the accident, if nobody suffered an injury at the time of the accident, or if medical records do not indicate an injury or pain. Claim denials can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you are dealing with hefty medical bills and missed days at work. Here are a few options you may have after a car insurance claim denial.
Understand the Reason for Denial
The first step in fighting against a claim denial is to understand exactly why your insurance company denied the claim in the first place. Typically, you will receive a letter from your auto insurance company telling you it has denied your claim and giving a specific explanation. Common reasons for claim denials include:
- You caused the accident or could have avoided the accident
- You did not seek medical treatment immediately after your accident
- Your policy does not include coverage for your type of claim
- You currently have a lapse in coverage for failure to renew or pay your bill
- You purchased a new vehicle without telling your insurance company
- The damages in your claim exceed your policy limit
If the insurance company’s explanation does not make sense to you, call your insurance agent and ask the company to clarify. For example, if your letter states that you have a lapse in coverage but you know for a fact you paid your last bill, the denial may be due to a simple clerical error. It is always wise to talk to your insurer over the phone after receiving a claims letter if you need to clear anything up or just to verify that you received a valid claim. It is not uncommon for a company to process a claim incorrectly.
Dispute the Claim
One option you may have after a claim denial is to dispute the insurance company’s response. If you decide to dispute your claim denial on the grounds of misinformation in your original claim, send corrections or proper documentation to your insurer. For example, if you have medical documentation that proves you did in fact seek treatment right after a crash, you may send this directly to your insurer. The insurance company may be willing to negotiate if you send in corrections.
You may also contact the California State Insurance Commissioner for assistance. The commissioner is in charge of ensuring insurance company regulation. Be aware, however, that state commissioners receive thousands of complaints every year. Your complaint may never lead to a resolution of your denied insurance claim. If the commissioner does respond and send a letter to your insurance company, your company might write back with the same denial. If there are significant expenses in medical bills, serious pain and suffering, or major property damage at stake, it is wise to hire an attorney to deal with your insurance company.
Bad Faith Insurance Company Cases
It is possible that you are dealing with a bad faith insurance company, if you received a claim denial you believe is unfounded or unfair. Your company may be failing to fulfill its end of your policy contract or purposely interpreting vague and ambiguous terms in the contract in a way that bars you from coverage. Unfortunately, bad faith insurance companies get away with unfairly minimizing or denying compensation to claimants every day.
Involving a professional attorney in these situations can lead to a bad faith lawsuit and the potential to receive compensation for your damages. If speaking with your insurance company and/or state commissioner doesn’t resolve your claim, contact a denial of insurance attorney for help.
The oil and gas industry poses significant threats to worker safety in numerous ways – the toxicity of the oil, the hazards of working with heavy machinery, and the risk of fires and explosions, to name a few. From 2003 to 2010, workers died on the job at a rate that was seven times greater than the rate for all U.S. industries. In this time period, 823 oil and gas workers suffered fatal job-related injuries. Despite enhanced Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations for the oil and gas industry, oil field workers still face exposure to significant health risks while on the clock.
Oil Field Vehicle Accidents
Most fatal injuries result from transportation accidents; particularly when workers have to drive from one work site to another. Drivers often traverse dangerous rural back roads. Fatigue and drowsy driving are significant issues in the oil and gas industry, where workers often work long shifts. When groups of workers pile into one vehicle with a drowsy driver, it can result in multiple deaths. Data shows that about four out of every 10 workers killed on the job in the oil field industry die in highway vehicle accidents.
Today, some oil field companies have installed driver performance monitors in vehicles to track the number of times a driver speeds, swerves, or slams on his/her brakes. Monitoring driver behavior may help reduce the number of oil field worker truck accidents. OSHA has also issued multiple motor vehicle safety worksheets and programs for oil field workers.
Struck-By, Caught-In, Caught-Between
According to OSHA, three out of five on-site deaths in the oil extraction industry result from workers getting struck-by, caught-in, or caught-between objects. Oil field workers work with moving vehicles and heavy equipment, as well as dangerous high-pressure lines. Cranes, derricks, and hoists all pose a threat to worker safety, as do well servicing structures and drilling equipment. Personal protection gear such as the correct foot and headwear may help workers stay safe from these hazards.
Fires and Explosions
Deadly fires and explosions are relatively rare in the oil and gas industry due to stringent safety regulations, but when they do occur, they are extremely deadly. The vapors and fumes of oil are flammable, as are the well gases and hydrogen sulfide wells, trucks, and equipment may produce. Electrical sources, cigarettes, open flames, welding tools, hot surfaces, lightning, and static may all ignite these fumes, causing a devastating fire or explosion. Crude oil vapors can ignite a flash fire, causing widespread burn injury and casualties. Oil field workers may avoid serious injury by wearing flame-resistant clothing, carefully handling flammable liquids, and learning emergency fire safety techniques.
Falls on Oil Fields
Oil field workers operate on high platforms and equipment located hundreds of feet above the ground, such as drilling platforms and masts. Falls from great heights can easily be fatal. If a worker survives a bad fall, he or she will most likely suffer some kind of head, neck, back, or brain injury, as well as broken bones. Workers can prevent falls by following the safety requirements for personal fall arrest systems, as well as avoiding sources of slip, trip, and fall accidents.
Toxic Chemical Exposures
The very nature of the oil and gas industry involves dealing with toxic chemicals and dangerous fumes. Oil field workers encounter toxic fumes every day in the field, putting them at high risk for serious health conditions related to chemical inhalation. Hydraulic fracturing oil field work exposes workers to silica, a naturally occurring mineral that can cause lung problems when inhaled. The rise in hydraulic fracking may lead to an increase in silica-related illnesses such as lung disease. With the proper employee training and OSHA-approved safety gear, workers can avoid chemical-related illnesses.