Documentary Highlights Three Bakken Oil Field Accident Fatalities

On January 12, 2015, a documentary series "Fault Lines" featured a documentary about the Bakken oil field entitled "Death on the Bakken Shale." The documentary asserted that the Bakken oil field has the highest oil field accident fatality rate in the United States.

Numerous Deaths in Recent Years

Those that produced the documentary looked at data from OSHA, the state medical examiner and the Department of Labor that at least 40 workplace deaths have occurred in the United States' portion of the Bakken old and gas fields since 2011. Also, from 2009 to 2013, there were 9,000 injury claims filed in North Dakota alone.

Welder Fearful Prior to Fatal Event

The documentary focused on three oil-field workers that died while on the job. One was a 28-year-old Marine that had completed tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He received instructions to perform welds on a tanker that had oil in it. He was so concerned about the assignment that he texted his fiancé about his fears. Part of the text allegedly read, "don't (feel) comfortable welding this at all." The tanker then exploded, killing the welder.

Workers Compensation Payments Reported

Following the death, the state's Workforce Safety and Insurance Agency (WSI) reportedly determined that the father of the deceased be paid $10,000 in burial expenses and another $15,000 for the loss of life. The documentary relates how WSI noted the return of $700 million in workers compensation insurance premiums to companies that operate in the state.

Due to the level of workers compensation payouts, attorneys have occasionally considered filing negligence lawsuits alleging that companies intentionally put workers at risk in some cases. When it is possible to reasonably allege, a victim's family might consider the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit under a state's wrongful death statutes.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or loss of life in a Bakken oil field accident, it is possible to discuss the matter with an attorney focused on relevant areas of the law. In such cases, Odegaard Miller Law offers a complimentary consultation. For more information, please contact us.