OSHA Is Not Always on the Side of Injured Employees. Here’s Why.

Jun 22, 2020 | Industrial Accidents, Oilfield Accidents, Work Accidents

If you think the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stands up for the welfare of individual workers, think again. This tiny federal agency has roughly one inspector for every 59,000 Texas workers. There are structural impediments as well. OSHA often significantly reduces or eliminates penalties to speed up the settlement process. The quicker the issue is resolved, the quicker it is forgotten. As a result, an atmosphere of industry negligence continues.

Moreover, OSHA never fights for the injury compensation you need and deserve. Typically, injured victims never see a penny of any fine money OSHA collects. So, it is up to you to initiate your claim for damages. Otherwise, your family might get stuck with the bill for your serious injuries.At Williams Hart, our experienced Houston oilfield accident lawyers put all our resources and expertise to work for you. When injured victims partner with us, they get more than aggressive advocacy. They get a small army of legal and other professionals who are dedicated to fair compensation for accident victims. Moreover, our attorneys have considerable experience in this area. They know all the procedural and evidentiary rules in multiple forums. That includes the unwritten rules.

Should I File a Private Damages Claim?
If someone steals your car, you must call the police. You cannot take the law into your own hands. Many oilfield accident victims assume the same thing is true in this context. They feel that calling OSHA is their only option. Anything else would be illegal or at least immoral. 

But the opposite is true. If you are an accident victim, whether the injury occurred on the job or not, the law encourages you to pursue an independent remedy. Generally, that’s the only way to obtain financial compensation. No one can turn back the clock and stop oilfield accidents before they happen. So, financial compensation is the next best thing.

Strict time deadlines apply in these situations. If the claims deadline passes, our hands might be tied. As mentioned, no one can turn back the clock. As a result, these victims might forfeit important legal and financial rights. 

So, you should always file a claim. Report the incident to your immediate supervisor and call us for a free consultation. We’ll take care of the rest.

Beginning Your Claim
From shale oil fields to traditional oil derricks to offshore rigs, there are many different kinds of oil extraction operations in Texas. So, it stands to reason that there are multiple legal options available as well. Some of them include:

  • Owner Negligence: Many oilfield owners do not subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance. As a result, oilfield accident victims are free to pursue claims in civil court. Compensation is available if the plant owner’s conduct fell below the applicable standard of care.​
  • Defective Product Actions: The standard of care is not always relevant in court claims. Manufacturers are strictly liable for the damages their dangerous products cause. Examples include equipment plagued by unsafe design and/or shoddy workmanship.
  • Jones Act/DOHSA: If the injury occurred on an offshore oil rig, one of these federal laws often applies. The Jones Act, and a related federal workers’ compensation law, often apply to nonfatal injuries. The Death on High Seas Act usually covers fatal injuries.

In all these situations, compensation normally includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, if there is clear and convincing evidence the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk.

Ending Your Claim
Because these matters are so complex, many lawyers and law firms struggle to successfully resolve oilfield accident claims. But at Williams Hart, because of our resources and expertise, we generally resolve these claims out of court. The insurance company is simply afraid to cross swords with us in court. Because of our track record, they know such confrontations typically end badly for plant owners.

These settlements benefit victims. They save time and money. They also give victims more control over the outcome.

Various methods are available, and mediation is a good example. A third-party mediator listens to both sides then tries to facilitate a settlement. If both parties negotiate in good faith, which they have a legal obligation to do, mediation is usually successful. 

Essentially, “good faith” means both sides must be willing to compromise. At Williams Hart, we are experienced negotiators as well as experienced litigators. So, we know when to compromise and when to stand firm. Our clients’ legal and financial rights are much more important than a quick deal.

OSHA and other watchdogs might not be on your side, but we are, and we know how to win. For a confidential consultation with an experienced oilfield accident attorney in Houston, contact Williams Hart today. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.

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