Quinton Oil Rig Explosion

Five Dead After Oklahoma Oilfield Explosion

The recent explosion and subsequent fire at an Oklahoma oil and gas drilling site that left five oilfield workers dead, and another dozen such workers with relatively minor injuries, demonstrates once again that petroleum energy exploration and production activity often involves a high risk of serious personal injury and even death among oilfield workers. While the exact causes of the January 22, 2018 tragedy will probably remain unknown until after the completion of a thorough investigation by both State of Oklahoma and federal officials, the available facts seem to point to negligence by some members of the rig crew may have played a role in the tragedy. In today’s article, our oilfield accident lawyer will review some of the legal options that may be available to the victims of oilfield accident victims and their families.

The Facts

The known facts of this incident, such as they are, can be summarized as follows.

At approximately 8:45 AM on the morning of January 22nd, an explosion ripped through a natural gas exploration drilling operation near the southeastern Oklahoma town of Quinton. The rig, known locally as Patterson #219, was jointly operated by a partnership composed of Houston-based Patterson-UTI and Red Mountain Energy of Tulsa, OK. According to news reports, the preliminary investigation of the accident suggests that an “uncontrolled release” of natural gas was ignited by either an electrical system on the rig or by a discharge of natural static electricity.

The Statistics of Oilfield Accidents

Based on statistics collected between 2001 and 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have estimated that there are about 100 deaths each year at drilling sites located within the United States or in its adjacent territorial waters. This data has also reveals that:

  • about 60 to 65% of those fatalities involved accidental contact, such as being struck or becoming entrapped by drilling equipment
  • over half of all oilfield-related accidental deaths involved transportation of employees to and from a drilling operation or while transporting/transferring raw petroleum products

Oilfield accidents are also known to result in a high incidence of permanently-disabling injuries such as amputations of the hands, fingers, and legs along with burn injuries that often require repeated surgical procedures such as skin grafts(burns) or orthopedic repairs to the spine and/or the extremities.

Consequences of Oilfield Accidents

In an ideal world, local, state, and federal agencies would work together to insure that proper safety measures are in place to reduce the chance of accidental injury or accidental death among oilfield workers. Unfortunately, our world is far from prefect and accidents will occur. In order to protect your legal right to compensation, it is strongly advised that an injured oilfield worker consult with an experienced personal injury / accidental death lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.

In addition to causing pain, suffering, and even psychological trauma, oilfield accidents often result in long-term economic losses due to the disability or death of a family’s primary wage earner. Even though some such losses are covered by worker’s compensation and other insurance plans, receiving adequate financial compensation for these injuries will often require the assistance of an oilfield injury lawyer. Such compensation will often include:

  • payment of wages that would have been earned had the employee not been injured;
  • medical expenses that are directly related to treating the injury itself;
  • losses of personal property such as work tools that occurred at the time of the accident;
  • payment of wages that a breadwinner would have earned in the absence of his or her injury or accidental death.

Additionally, there are “non-economic” as well as “exemplary” (punitive) damages that may be awarded to accident victims or their surviving family members. These damages may include:

  • compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as the loss of the victim’s ability to participate in family or social events;
  • disruptions of the family unit that resulted from an injury;
  • disruptions of the family unit that resulted from an injury;
  • damages that are awarded to “punish” or to discourage negligent behavior on the part of the responsible party or parties, and
  • reasonable attorney fees that result from lawsuits that must be filed in order to assure that the victim and the victim’s family receive payment for their losses that is both fair and adequate, given the nature of the losses suffered.

In conclusion, accidents such as the recent explosion in Oklahoma often cause significant physical and financial losses to accident victims and their families. In order to assure that they receive full payment for their losses, accident victims are advised to retain the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer to act as their legal representative while issues relating to compensation are being resolved.