Oilfield workers put their lives at risk every day to help fuel the US economy. These workers face dangerous working conditions. In a span of four years, nearly 500 oil and gas workers were killed on the job, and many more were injured.
If you’ve been injured or experienced the death of a loved one in an oilfield accident, you need an excellent attorney. However, you may be as overwhelmed about selecting an attorney as you are about paying your medical bills. How do you know if someone will represent you with skill and integrity? Who will give your family the best chance at recovering compensation for the Texas oil accident?
If you’re wondering what to look for in an oilfield accident attorney, this guide should simplify the process. Here you’ll find strategies for finding a skilled attorney as well as things to avoid. With an experienced attorney by your side, you should have a greater chance of recovering compensation from the oilfield employer or a manufacturer.
Why You Need an Attorney
Texas oilfield accidents may fall under various laws, including employment, personal injury, wrongful death, and product liability. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate which laws apply to your case and give you the best chance for maximum compensation.
If you try to handle your claim on your own, you may face corporate intimidation or bullying. Big oil industry lawyers want to save their clients money, which means they want to pay you less than you deserve. While they might pressure you into a quick settlement, your lawyer won’t be intimidated by them.
Hiring a lawyer to fight for you can ease your stress because the lawyer will take over negotiations. Having an attorney can also get you more money as oil companies realize they can’t easily take advantage of a victim who has representation. Some accident victims think they will save money by not paying attorney fees. Interestingly, victims who hire an attorney may get more accident compensation, even after paying attorney fees.
How to Find an Experienced Attorney
When you’ve been injured in an oilfield accident, you need an attorney with experience specific to the oil industry. These dangerous workplaces function differently than an average manufacturing facility. An attorney who knows the ins and outs of the oil industry can effectively fight those who put you in harm’s way.
You might see personal injury lawyers advertising on billboards or commercials. They might look fancy and sound impressive, but how do you know who to trust?
Take these steps to find a skilled personal injury lawyer:
- Ask friends, coworkers, and family members for recommendations;
- If you know a lawyer who practices in another area, like a divorce attorney, ask if they know a good personal injury lawyer;
- Check the Texas Bar Association for attorneys in your area; and
- Review client feedback posted on websites like Facebook, Google, and Avvo.
Once you’ve narrowed down a list of recommended attorneys, call each lawyer to set up a consultation. Personal injury lawyers should offer a free consultation, either in person, by phone, or by video chat.
Questions to Ask an Oilfield Accident Lawyer
When you meet with a potential lawyer, ask them questions about their experience and evaluate their willingness to fight for you. Ask questions like the following:
- Have you ever handled a case like this?
- Do you usually settle cases or take them to trial?
- What is your average settlement?
- Do you work on contingency, and do I owe you anything if we lose?
- How long do you think this case will take?
- What types of communication should I expect from you during my case?
You should evaluate the lawyer’s communication style and whether they seem knowledgeable about your accident injury. Ultimately, you want a smart lawyer who treats you with respect. You want someone who will advocate zealously for you and view you as a person, not just a case file. Don’t sign a contract with an attorney until you feel confident that they meet these qualifications.
What Legal Options Do You Have?
An attorney can help you determine legal options. When an employee experiences an accident at work, the employer usually has to pay. Often, an employer pays through workers’ compensation insurance, which covers basic living expenses and medical bills. Most states require employers to subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance, though some states, like Texas, do not.
An attorney will investigate your accident to determine what laws and legal remedies apply. Your attorney will advise you if your claim is eligible for workers’ compensation or more lucrative damages. If you can bring a workplace injury lawsuit against your employer or the manufacturer of a product, this usually results in greater compensation, but you also have a higher burden of proof.
If your attorney finds that you have grounds for a lawsuit, you might pursue several actions. A personal injury lawsuit seeks compensation for the harm you suffered from someone’s negligence. A wrongful death claim can compensate your family for the harm caused by your loved one’s death, while a survival claim can seek damages for the pain your loved one suffered.
What Compensation Can You Achieve?
Your attorney should help you pursue maximum compensation for your harm. This harm, called damages, can include the following:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Punitive damages.
Your oilfield accident attorney can give you an idea of possible compensation based on the facts of your case. Your lawyer will then attempt to settle your case or take it to trial, depending on which strategy is best for you.
Taking legal action after an oilfield accident can feel stressful. However, a good attorney will help you every step of the way. An oilfield accident lawyer can’t take away the harm you’ve suffered, but they can fight to make those responsible pay. If you find the right oilfield accident attorney, a lawsuit can be worth it, providing for you and your family.