Oil fields are one of the most dangerous workplace environments. Filled with explosive and hazardous materials, heavy equipment, and large vehicles, oil field workers have to be attentive and careful in high-stress situations. It is not a job for the meek. One of the most common types of accidents that oil field workers are at risk for every day is struck-by accidents.
These accidents cause fatalities and injuries all throughout the oil and gas industry. The injuries sustained are often severe, as the equipment that is moving or flying through the air during the accident is often heavy and moving fast, and if it strikes any body parts, the results could be dire. There are several precautions a worker can take in order to avoid these accidents, but when they can’t be avoided, that is when they should call an experienced oil field injury attorney.
What is a struck-by accident?
Along with vehicle accidents, struck-by accidents are one of the most common accidents found in the oil and gas industry. A struck-by accident is what it sounds like: a person suffers an injury after being hit by a moving (swinging, flying, falling, etc) object. On an oil field, this often refers to tools and equipment, wires, pipes, cranes, forklifts, high-pressure hoses, and all other manner of objects in motion. It can occur when equipment fails, when improper procedure is taken by the worker or workers around him, unclear communication, or failure to recognize work-zones.
The magazine Occupational Health & Safety explains that “three out of five on-site fatalities are caused by struck-by, caught-in or caught-between hazards,” and that contact injuries such as these are the second most common cause of fatalities on an oil field.
What injuries are caused by struck-by accidents?
While there are many accidents that can happen on an oil field that can cause injuries such as burns, electrical shocks, or severed fingers, struck-by injuries can cause a different set of injuries. They are no less dangerous or life-threatening.
These injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury. When an object hits the head, it can cause damage to the brain. Even if the skull is not broken or punctured, the brain can still jolt and jostle inside the skull, causing bruising and abrasions which may lead to internal bleeding. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are serious, and should be treated immediately. Symptoms of a TBI include: headaches, confusion, dizziness, loss of memory, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. Consider the damage a the head of a sledgehammer might do should it fly from the handle as a worker is using it, or if a crane swung and hit someone in the head with its loadblock. This is why it is important that your employer supplies you with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets.
- Spinal cord injury. If a heavy object or vehicle strikes you from behind, you could suffer from a spinal cord injury (SCI). A SCI occurs when an injury to the spine causes someone to lose full or partial function to the parts of their body below the site of the injury. People who experience SCIs may end up partially or fully paralyzed.
- Bone fractures. While bone fractures (bone breaks) may be a common injury, it doesn’t make them any less harmful, especially if the break happens from a traumatic impact, as is the case in many struck-by accidents. Bone fractures can include skull fractures, leg fractures, and rib fractures, which can cause irreparable damage and harm to the surrounding organs. A bone fracture can leave someone with mobility issues, brain damage, and a punctured lung or severed artery, leading to internal bleeding.
- Crush injury. A crush injury happens when someone is squeezed between two objects, or a heavy object falling on a worker. As heavy as equipment and machinery can be in the oil field, crushing injuries are not unheard of in struck-by accidents. Crush injuries are extremely painful and can eventually lead to amputation.
These injuries can not only cause harm here and now, but lead to complications and long-term effects that affect you throughout your life. From needing a wheelchair, physical therapy, and even psychological counseling, an injury on the oil field can be devastating to both you and your family. It may cause you to lose your job, and therefore your income. You may not be able to continue hobbies you used to enjoy, or you may need assistance with everyday activities. This is why it is so important to find an oil field injury lawyer should you experience a struck-by accident.
Why you need an Oklahoma City lawyer for a struck-by accident
Your employer is required to offer all oil field workers PPE, as well as make constant checks on equipment, vehicles, and machines. If a piece of equipment malfunctions due to lack of maintenance, it is likely that your employer could be held liable for your injury. You must be careful, however, because if the accident was caused because you used the equipment incorrectly, or did not heed warnings and signs, then you may not be able to receive compensation.
If you have been in a struck-by accident on an oil field, then you are likely looking at a long recovery period, full of expensive medical bills and perhaps a lifetime of therapy. If your employer created an unnecessarily dangerous work environment by not providing you with the proper protective gear and equipment, or they failed to keep equipment safe and in working order, then they may be liable for compensation.
You do not need to suffer more than the pain you are already in. Let the attorneys at Cunningham & Mears help. Our oil field injury lawyers have experience representing workers in Oklahoma, ensuring that they receive the restitution they rightly deserve. To schedule an appointment, call us or use our contact page. We proudly serve the people of Oklahoma City.
Marcus P. Mears is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Mears is committed to helping Oklahoma’s injured victims in the areas of injury law and insurance litigation. Mr. Mears was selected to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for his work as lead counsel in multiple seven figure injury cases. Learn More