Oil Field Injury Potential High When Blowouts Occur

The potential for blowouts and other serious accidents can make oil fields a challenging place in which to earn a living. Fortunately, blowouts are less common than they once were.

Bakken Blowouts Do Happen

A December 2012 blowout near Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota sent a mixture of oil, gas and salt 50 feet into the air. Fluid was escaping under extremely high pressure through a narrow pipe just 2 3/8-in in diameter, and specialists had to be called in from Texas to bring the blowout under control. Effluent stained the snow-covered ground 1,000-ft from the wellhead.

When a blowout occurs due to recklessness or other forms of negligence, serious oil field injury loss of life may result. Drillers, roughnecks, derrickhands and other workers may all face danger. Pressure can build up in vast underground oil and gas reservoirs, and if this pressure is released in an uncontrolled manner, there can easily be enough force to damage the rig and potentially harm workers.

Wide-ranging Liability Potential

When a blowout or other dangerous event happens at an oil rig, a thorough investigation may uncover culpability that extends beyond the employer. Those that manufacture, install and/or maintain oil field equipment may face liability if an accident causes injury or loss of life. For example, if a blowout preventer were to fail, the manufacturer may be found culpable. Therefore, an injury or fatality may give rise to legal issues that extend well beyond workers' compensation claims.

Injuries Can Be Serious

The sheer force of a blowout can cause concussive injuries that can unfortunately be life-changing. Hearing loss and traumatic brain injuries may result. Compound fractures and spinal injuries are also possible. All it takes is one spark for the blowout to result in a fire and/or explosion. Then, permanent disfigurement may result.

It is clear that the stakes may be high when a blowout occurs. A concise, capable and competent investigation can uncover negligent conduct that may justify the filing of a lawsuit in a civil court with proper jurisdiction. Depending upon the facts of a given case, compensation may be sought for a wide variety of relevant factors, including, but not limited to, pain and suffering, permanent injury, long-term rehabilitation costs, ongoing prescription expenses and other losses.

For more information, or to discuss the details of your personal situation with an attorney focused on this area of the law, please contact us.