Category Archives: Work Injury

Common Causes of Oilfield Accidents

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Working on an oilfield is a dangerous profession. In an industry that requires working with heavy machinery, combustible materials, and large vehicles among many other hazards, there are a large number of potential hazards. Most oilfield accidents are preventable with proper precautions, yet traumatic and fatal accidents caused by explosions, faulty machinery, or environmental factors, among other variables, continue to threaten the safety of oilfield workers every day.

Oil companies are responsible for maintaining a safe working environment for their employees. Providing in-depth training, appropriate safety gear, and maintaining equipment regulations are all simple ways to avoid accidents that can potentially cause serious injury. When state and federal laws and regulations are not met or are ignored, there is a serious concern for everyone’s safety. When an accident does occur, it is important to hold the responsible parties accountable.

The most recent data from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average of 107 annual occupational fatalities in private sector oil and gas extraction industries from 2016 to 2020. Thousands of other injuries were reported ranging from slip-and-fall incidents to chemical exposures. California reported 90 fatalities across the public and private extraction industries in 2020, of which 40% were the result of slips, falls, or trips. Continue reading to learn about the most common causes of oilfield accidents in the US and how to prevent them:

Blowouts

An oil well blowout is an uncontrolled release of oil, liquid, and gas that can occur when the pressure release systems on the well fail. There is a tremendous force behind a blowout that can cause serious injury to anyone within range. The chief operator should be trained to identify the signs of a potential blowout and be looking for signs of a potential blowout at all times. All mechanical systems of the well pump should be inspected and monitored regularly to avoid system failures.

Explosion and Fires

Oilfield workers are constantly surrounded by extremely flammable materials that can combust from even the smallest spark, potentially causing significant harm. Explosions and fires on the oil field are relatively rare but when they do happen, they can cause horrific burn injuries, fatalities, and damage. Most accidents of this nature are preventable and are caused by equipment malfunction, failure to follow safety regulations, or unsafe drilling practices.

Exposure to Toxins and Chemicals

Exposure to the chemicals in an oilfield can create major long-term medical problems for workers. Benzene is a carcinogen found in crude oil and can devastate a person’s bone marrow and blood, causing leukemia, cancers, anemia, and excessive bleeding. Prolonged low exposure to hydrogen sulfide can potentially cause memory loss, respiratory soft tissue damage, and skin complications, while a high concentration exposure to the same gas can be fatal. Effects of chemical exposure might take years to identify, so it is important to receive medical treatment immediately following a known exposure, keep documentation, and follow all recommended safety precautions.

Injured? We Can Help

Working conditions on an oilfield are unique, unpredictable, and dangerous. It is important to remain cognizant of your surroundings, follow safety procedures, and use good judgment while working. If negligence or an unsafe working environment causes you to be injured on the job site, the experienced team of oilfield accident attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates can assess your case and help you figure out what organizations or individuals are responsible for the negligence that was a factor in the accident that caused you harm.

Contact our Bakersfield, CA office today to connect with an attorney regarding your case, and determine the next steps towards your recovery.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 4:13 pm

Steps to Improve Worker Safety on an Oilfield

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Oilfield workers face considerable health and safety concerns due to the nature of their jobs. The number of inexperienced workers, the use of heavy equipment, powerful machinery, and volatile liquids and gasses all contribute to a hazardous work environment, but one that has become essential to California’s economy.

Accidents experienced on an oilfield are often preventable and may occur out of negligence on the part of workers, supervisors, corporate offices, or equipment manufacturers. When negligence causes minor or severe injury, the employee has the right to seek legal representation and potential damages for losses caused due to the injury.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the fatality rate among oil and gas workers is seven times higher than all other industries in the United States. The most common accidents that cause fatalities and injuries in the oil and gas industry include automobile accidents, caught-in, struck-by or caught-between incidents, fires and explosions, and falls from great heights.

Controlling or minimizing the likelihood of a hazard is the best way to prevent accidents and injuries on an oilfield. A number of federal and state government agencies including OSHA set safety expectations and regulations that employers are required by law to follow. Ultimately, organizations, managers, and supervisors are responsible for ensuring a safe working environment for anyone on the worksite.

Ensure Proper Training of All Employees

Companies and supervisors are responsible for the proper training of all employees. Training should include required gear and how to use it, a full understanding of operation procedures, the use of the equipment, and any necessary mechanics, among other things. Inexperienced workers should receive all necessary training before being granted permission to operate equipment independently.

Consistently Enforce Safety Regulations

California Law requires oil companies to follow the strict regulations outlined by government agencies to protect workers, the public, and the environment. Supervisors and managers must consistently enforce these safety regulations in order to maintain a safe work environment for everyone. OSHA regularly performs safety audits of oilfields to ensure companies are in compliance with regulations and workers maintain the right to file a complaint with OSHA should their employer fail to follow and administer proper safety regulations.

Avoid Oilfield Worker Burnout

Oilfield workers frequently have high demands placed on their time and availability, including hours of overtime. Exhaustion does not allow workers to work clearly and efficiently, with research suggesting that the effects of fatigue on the brain are as harmful as drunk driving. Exhaustion can affect memory, motor skills, decision-making, and balance. Employers should place reasonable demands on their employees, and provide schedules that allow for adequate rest.

Ensure Oilfield Equipment is Well Maintained

Oilfields contain a significant amount of mechanical equipment that requires specific maintenance to ensure that it is properly functioning. Heavy machinery that is not fully inspected and maintained can potentially have catastrophic impacts on safety features, shut-off valves, and sensors that can prevent or alert to blowouts, fires, or other hazards. Fully functional equipment is less likely to break or malfunction and create the potential for severe accidents.

Supply Workers with Necessary Protective Gear

From masks and footwear to harnesses and helmets, oilfield workers require layers of protection against the elements, slippery surfaces, and heights among other hazards. Since 2018, OSHA requires all employers to provide workers with appropriate and necessary personal protective equipment that meets the administration’s safety standards.

How We Can Help

It is inexcusable for organizations to disregard safety procedures on oilfields to prioritize profit. Unfortunately, this along with careless mistakes on the job lead to preventable accidents. When an accident does occur, it is important to hold the responsible parties accountable.

Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience representing those injured in the oilfield because of someone else’s negligence, including obtaining $4.5 million for a defective oilfield derrick and $3.5 million for a worker who sustained injuries after an oilfield crane dropped on him. We understand the concerns and frustrations that working families face when an earner is no longer able to work due to injury. Contact our Bakersfield personal injury law office today to schedule a free consultation of your case.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 8:37 pm

California Oilfield Accident Lawyers

Friday, January 28, 2022

The oil production industry brings in a substantial number of jobs and millions in revenue to California’s local and state economies every year.

Bakersfield has become known as the oilfield capital of California with the surrounding area of Kern County accounting for nearly 70% of the state’s oil and about 1% of global oil production. While other regions of California are phasing out oilfield production, Kern County is only growing with the recent approval of thousands of new rigs being placed in the upcoming years.

In an industry that is already considered hazardous, the rapid growth of oil rigs in this area is expected to also increase the number of on-the-job injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reported oilfield jobs in the top three most dangerous occupations.

It is possible to prevent oilfield accidents, yet traumatic and fatal accidents caused by explosions, faulty machinery, or environmental factors, among other variables, continue to threaten the safety of oilfield workers unnecessarily.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an oilfield accident, consider seeking professional help from our team of experienced oilfield accident lawyers who can help you navigate the many nuances of large corporation legal tactics and the layers of worker’s rights law. We understand the concerns and frustrations that working families face when an earner is no longer able to work due to injury.

Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience representing those injured in the oilfield because of someone else’s negligence, including obtaining $4.5 million for a defective oil field derrick and $3.5 million for a worker who sustained injuries after an oilfield crane dropped on him.

Daniel Rodriguez himself worked in the oilfields for years as a roustabout and mechanic. With his first-hand knowledge of how difficult and dangerous the work can be, he and his firm are especially versed in the rights workers have in the oilfield industry when accidents and injuries do occur.

Please reach out to our Bakersfield oilfield accident lawyers today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:51 pm

How to Prevent an Oilfield Accident

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The oil and gas industry is one of the most dangerous work sectors. Accidents in this field can occur in a variety of ways and can potentially have a large impact on individuals, organizations, and ecosystems. In 2020 the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers reported 14 oilfield fatalities occurring in 12 separate accidents. Thousands of other injuries were reported ranging from slip-and-fall incidents to chemical exposures. Despite the inherent danger that comes with the line of work, there are several key factors that can help prevent oilfield accidents from occurring.

Training

Having appropriate training procedures in place for all workers is key in ensuring a safe environment. Preparing individuals for their unique work conditions, the types of materials they encounter on a daily basis, and the level of caution to maintain around heavy machinery is greatly important. Without proper and reliable training unprepared workers are at a greater risk for a user-error accident. Even seasoned workers should receive regular job-specific training.

Properly Working Machinery

Maintaining machinery and equipment is essential to a safe working environment. Regular maintenance routines keep machines and equipment running smoothly and give operators the chance to observe issues or worn pieces that may lead to larger problems.

Safety Protocols

Workers should be upheld to strict safety standards that are in place to protect themselves and others around them. Organizations are required to provide all workers with appropriate safety gear and equipment including hard hats, gloves, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, and fire-resistant clothing. Enforcement of proper use of these tools will lower the risks associated with oilfield accidents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides specific regulations and protocols for the oil and gas industry. Employers should supply workers with access to that information and readily communicate information, trends, or changes in protocols.

While the oil and gas industry comes with risks, it is always possible to minimize risk factors with caution and preparedness. Contact Rodriguez & Associates with any questions you may have regarding safety concerns or breaches in safety protocols within the oil and gas industry.

Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience representing those injured in the oilfield because of someone else’s negligence, including a worker who sustained injuries after an oilfield crane dropped on him obtaining $3.5 million in the case.

Daniel Rodriguez himself worked in the oilfields for years as a roustabout and mechanic. With his first-hand knowledge of how difficult and dangerous the work can be, he and his firm are especially versed in the rights workers have in the oilfield industry when accidents and injuries do occur.

Please reach out to our Bakersfield personal injury attorney today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:10 pm

Common Injuries Associated With Oilfield Accidents

Thursday, July 22, 2021

California is one of the top oil-producing states in the country. A lot of that production is based in Kern and Ventura counties, and provides employment to residents of those areas. 

Oil field work is an inherently dangerous job. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries notes that 489 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job between 2013 and 2017, the most recent time period for data. 

While oilfield accidents aren’t entirely avoidable, many could be prevented with the right safety precautions and protocols in place. But all too often, oil well processing and transport facilities skirt or outright violate state and federal regulations, making their workplaces extremely dangerous and even life-threatening to employees.

The top safety and health hazards that can result in fatalities for these workers are vehicle accidents, being struck by, caught in, or caught between equipment, explosions and fires, falls, being trapped in confined spaces, and exposure to harmful chemicals.

A number of injuries are common on the oilfield because of these types of accidents.

Burns. Workers can get severe burns from steam, fire, hot equipment, and electric shock. Serious injuries, such as third-degree burns, can cause permanent nerve damage as well as disfigurement. They normally require skin grafts for wound closure as well as rehabilitation. 

Fractures and broken bones. On the oilfield, fractures and broken bones can happen when a worker falls, gets struck by an object, or is involved in explosions or transportation accidents. These injuries can put oilfield employees out of work for weeks or months at a time, seriously impacting their ability to provide for their household.

Permanent Hearing Loss. When oil companies fail to supply their workers with adequate protection, they put those individuals at risk for all sorts of injuries. Hearing loss can happen when workers are constantly surrounded by loud machinery but not given proper earplugs for the job. This hearing loss can be lifelong, which seriously impacts a person’s ability to do their job.

Brain Injuries. Oilfield workers can get a brain injury if they are hit on the head by a moving object or sustain a severe fall. Brain injuries can range from mild concussions to traumatic brain injuries that have lifelong consequences. The most severe types of brain injuries hinder a person from doing even the most basic day-to-day tasks like showering and feeding themselves.

Soft Tissue Injuries. Because of the repetitive nature of many tasks on the oilfield, such as operating machinery, injuries of the soft tissue are quite common. These muscle and tendon tears may start off as small, barely noticeable injuries and develop into more serious ones over time. 

It is important to take note of all injuries as soon as they happen, however minor they may seem at first. Many oilfield injuries are preventable, and if your injury is the result of your employer treating safety precautions lightly or violating them, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. To do that, you must have evidence of the injuries, which is why documenting them is so important. 

Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience representing those injured in the oilfield because of someone else’s negligence. Daniel Rodriguez himself worked in the oilfields for years as a roustabout and mechanic. Knowing first-hand how difficult and dangerous the work can be, he and his firm are especially attuned to the rights of workers in this industry when accidents and injuries occur. 

Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 4:07 pm

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Work Injury?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Workers who suffer injuries on the job can experience long-lasting complications. This may include severe physical pain, permanent disability, and an inability to return to work, especially if the employee sustains severe, life-long injuries such as spinal cord damage. Even after the injury physically heals, emotional trauma and financial difficulties can still linger.

If you are a California employee who sustains an injury while performing your work duties, you deserve fair compensation for your injuries. You can claim funds for medical expenses, wage replacement, and other losses by filing a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit.

Common Injuries in Workplace Accidents

Thousands of injuries occur in American workplaces each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private industry employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019. Workers in manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, and transportation and warehousing sustained the highest number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses during that year.

The most common injuries sustained by these employees include the following.

  • Sprains, strains, and tears
  • Soreness and pain
  • Bruises and contusions
  • Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
  • Fractures

Less common workplace injuries include more severe forms of damage, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain damage, burns, and internal bleeding and organ injury.

The Long-Term Effects of Workplace Injuries

Depending on the nature of his or her injury, a California employee can suffer long-term damage after an accident. The employee may develop a permanent disability that prevents him or her from performing his or her job or returning to work at all. He or she may require long-term medical care, disability accommodations, physical therapy, and live-in care, depending on the nature of the injury. These factors can impact an employee’s financial well-being; this treatment can be expensive and his or her insurance may not cover the costs.

In addition, severe workplace injuries can result in serious pain and suffering. Spinal cord damage can result in paralysis, while traumatic brain injuries may result in a loss of certain functions. Broken bones can take months to heal and require corrective treatment. Any and all workplace injuries can cause severe pain, and in some cases, this pain may turn chronic and last for a very long time. As a result of his or her injuries, the employee can develop emotional trauma and experience a loss of quality of life.

Legal Options for Injured California Employees

If you sustain an injury in a California workplace, you can collect compensation for your injuries through multiple avenues. These legal options can help you recover from the long-term effects of your injury and pay for your ongoing care costs.

  • Workers’ compensation claims: If you sustain an injury while on the job, you may receive funds for medical expenses and wage replacement through a workers’ compensation claim. You can recover funds regardless of fault; you will need to prove you suffered the injury while on the job, however.
  • Employer lawsuits: If you believe your employer’s negligent actions caused your injury, you can file a lawsuit against him or her for your economic and non-economic damages. Filing a workers’ comp claim waives your right to file a lawsuit, so speak to your attorney about your best options before making a decision.
  • Third-party lawsuits: If you believe another entity is responsible for your accident, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of machinery or a subcontractor, you can file a lawsuit against this entity in California civil court.

Understanding what to do after a workplace accident can be difficult, but a Bakersfield workplace injuries attorney can help. Immediately after receiving treatment for your injuries, contact your lawyer to discuss your next steps.

 

Posted by highrank at 8:34 pm

How to Prove Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case

Monday, February 17, 2020

If you suffer injuries in an accident that someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused, you can struggle with significant physical, financial, and emotional damages that you were not expecting. Under California state law, you have the right to claim compensation for these damages as long as you can prove that the at-fault party was liable — and you can receive funds for medical expenses, the development of mental health conditions, and lost wages during your recovery time. Proving lost wages can be complex, but a Bakersfield injury attorney can help guide you through this process.

What Are Lost Wages?

After an accident, you may suffer from significant injuries that prevent you from going back to work. You might spend weeks in the hospital or at home recovering from your injuries, and in some cases, the nature of the injuries you suffered could prevent you from returning to work altogether. In these situations, you and your family can experience serious financial hardship as your stream of income runs dry.

In a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim compensation for the wages you lose during recovery and, depending on the nature of your case, you may be able to claim funds for the loss of future earnings. Proving past wages is significantly easier than proving the loss of future wages,  but these funds are necessary for you and your family’s well-being.

How to Prove Lost Past Wages

To claim lost past wages in a personal injury case, you will need to prove that you were unable to work as a result of the injuries you sustained in the accident. You and your attorney will first need to establish that your injuries prevented you from returning to work — this will usually consist of testimony from a medical expert as well as a presentation of your medical records.

After you prove this point, you will need to provide evidence establishing that you were absent from work and lost your pay as a result. You will also need to provide documentation that calculates the amount of wages you would have earned had you been able to remain on the job. Your employer will usually provide this evidence, and may need to give testimony as well.

Proving Future Loss of Earnings

Establishing future loss of earnings in a personal injury case can be difficult, since you will likely recover partially from the injuries as time goes on, allowing you to return to work on a part or even full-time basis. However, returning to work may not occur for years to come — and you will need financial support up until that point.

First, the court will look at your injuries and determine how likely you are to return to your previous work, and if the injuries’ impacts harms your earning potential. You will need to supply medical evidence and testimony to discuss your recovery potential, when you could reasonably return to work, and the extent to which you will not be able to perform your current duties.

After you provide sufficient medical evidence, the court will look at the difference between your wages pre-accident and your earning potential after the accident. The court will also discuss how long you are likely to keep working; most courts will not award future lost earnings past retirement age.

Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

Proving lost wages, especially loss of future wages or earning potential, can be very difficult without legal training and experience. Connecting with the medical experts who can provide testimony on your behalf alone is difficult, and when you factor in the other elements you have to establish to prove liability, filing a lawsuit can be daunting.

Hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case can help relieve these pressures and provide you with the resources and knowledge necessary to prove your case. Your attorney will work closely with you to gather all necessary evidence, connect with medical experts and other expert witnesses, and advocate aggressively for your post-injury needs. If you have not hired an attorney already, contact one as soon as possible.

Posted by highrank at 9:33 pm

What Is the Difference Between Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Accidents can happen at any time and in any place, including your home, at school, or in the workplace. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to claim compensation for certain damages after an injury, like medical expenses or lost wages. However, the process you enter to obtain this compensation will change based on whether you suffered an injury at work or not.

California Workers’ Compensation Law

In the state of California, you can collect compensation for injuries you suffer on the job. You must prove that your workplace duties caused the injury, such as overexertion while lifting boxes or a slip and fall on your construction site. Through a workers’ compensation claim, you can collect benefits for lost wages and disability, as well as funds for your injury-related medical expenses.

Only injuries that occur during the course of your job qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you suffer an injury during a commute, on your lunch hour, or even while stepping outside for a quick 15-minute break, workers’ compensation insurance will most likely not approve benefits for you.

If someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused your accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim against him or her – even if it happens on the job. This is true in cases where a third-party causes your injury at work, a defective product harms you, or your employer acts in an intentionally harmful manner.

What Is a Personal Injury Case?

Whether you suffer an injury at work that doesn’t fall under workers’ compensation or you are in an accident outside of work, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. For an accident to qualify under personal injury, someone else’s negligence must have caused it to occur.

You can claim many different types of damages in personal injury cases, including the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses related to the injury, including medications, surgeries, and doctor’s visits
  • Lost wages during recovery time
  • Emotional damages, like pain and suffering and a loss of quality of life
  • Disability accommodations to a home or vehicle
  • Property damage sustained in the accident
  • Punitive damages in situations where the at-fault party acted in an especially reckless or negligent manner

What Should You Do After an Accident?

If you are in an accident, you will need to take certain steps to preserve the evidence necessary to file your insurance claim, lawsuit, or workers’ compensation claim.

If you suffer an injury on the job, take the following steps.

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your employer may require you to visit a specific doctor or you can choose one on your own – verify with your employer before you leave.
  • Report the injury to your employer within 30 days of the accident.
  • Receive your workers’ compensation claim form from your employer and complete it. Contact an attorney if you need assistance with your claim.
  • Receive a decision from the workers’ compensation insurer within 90 days of filing.
  • If the insurance company denies your claim, you can file an appeal. Contact an attorney to help you build your case.

If you suffer an injury anywhere outside of work or during a lunch break, take the following steps.

  • Call 911 and bring law enforcement and medical attention to the scene immediately.
  • Take photographs of your injuries, any vehicles involved, and the area where the accident occurred.
  • Collect the contact information for the at-fault party and any witnesses in the area.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible for your injuries and save all documentation.
  • Contact a personal injury attorney in Bakersfield to assist you with your insurance claim or lawsuit.

Personal injury and workers’ compensation are two different legal processes that can lead to different types of compensation or benefits. The main difference between the two is whether or not you suffered your injury on the job.

If you are unsure about your case’s category or wish to discuss the legal processes further, contact a California attorney who works with both personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Your attorney will be able to advise you on which path you should pursue to claim compensation.

Posted by highrank at 6:29 pm