Experienced Oklahoma City Lawyers for Oilfield Toxic Exposure Victims
Helping oilfield workers with their workers’ compensation and personal injury claims
Working in oil fields can be lucrative for both the employer and the employee. In Oklahoma, cultivating our natural resources is the lifeblood of the state economy. Unfortunately, there are many dangers when drilling for oil, with fracking, and most forms of liquid or gaseous energy production. Toxins and hazardous chemicals are a byproduct of energy production and waste. Owners, contractors, and developers have a duty to protect their workers from these dangerous chemicals.
Cunningham & Mears has earned the respect of Oklahomans for our ability to protect oil field workers. Exposure to toxins can be fatal. Workers who live often suffer long-term injuries which prevent them from enjoying a normal life. Many workers can no longer earn a living. Our lawyers are respected because we always fight for the best possible outcome for our clients.
Why oil field toxins are so dangerous
First of all, toxins come from a variety of sources – engines, storage tanks, drilling rigs, generators, vehicles, the oilfield air you breathe, and the water you drink. Hazardous chemicals can be found on the machinery you work with and on the tools you touch. They’re everywhere, which is the first reason they’re so dangerous.
The second reason they’re so dangerous is because the effects of most types of exposure are irreversible. Once the damage is done, the best remedy is to limit the damage and work to treat it. We work with dermatologists, respiratory experts, cardiologists, and a full range of medical providers to help you get the best care possible when you need it.
Which oil field toxins are the deadliest?
Like with anything, toxins come in shades of gray: some are more deadly than others. Some work faster, spread more quickly, and lead to more serious complications. Some of the worst oilfield toxins are:
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen oxide
Unlike most injury cases, the effects of repeated exposure to toxins often doesn’t appear right away. Many workers don’t even realize they’ve had significant exposure until months or years after the exposure has taken place.
The long-term risks to Oklahoma oil field workers exposed to toxic chemicals
Toxins can cause death and a variety of disorders and illnesses that can be different to treat. Common risks of oil field exposure to toxins include:
- Breathing and lung disorders
- Damage to skin layers
- Neurological disorders
- Liver damage
- Eye irritation and difficult seeing
- Headaches, dizziness, and nausea
Many patients require a lifetime of medical care to manage these catastrophic and permanent illnesses. Many workers also suffer depression and anxiety which requires psychological care and counseling.
Federal regulation of oil field toxins
At Cunningham & Mears, we work with oil field experts who understand what protective measures should have been taken to provide for the worker’s safety. Example measures include:
- Extensive training of employees and contractors on how to recognize toxins
- Offering protective clothing and tools to avoid exposure
- Determining what steps should be taken to recognize if someone has been exposed to these dangerous chemicals
Our Oklahoma City attorneys investigate whether the oil field owners and businesses used due diligence to keep abreast of federal regulations that govern oilfield work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates the usage, cleanup and management of hazardous chemicals used at oil fields. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also monitors dangerous toxins. These agencies investigate complaints, research the use and effects of these chemicals, and constantly provides updates. They also make suggestions for how to reduce exposure.
Types of toxic exposure claims
We bring the right claim for each client. Some claims are processed through federal courts. Most cases are brought in Oklahoma’s state courts. Where we bring a case depends on the worker’s employment status, whether the victim lived or died, and whether other workers suffered injuries to the same type of exposure. Standard chemical exposure cases fall into one of the following categories.
- Workers’ compensation. Employees who suffer an illness due to workplace conditions can file for work injury benefits. The employee does not have to prove the site owner or anyone was negligent. The employee does not have to prove a specific incident caused the illness. We are respected for obtaining:
- The worker’s medical bills including long-term lifetime treatments
- 2/3 of the worker’s lost wages while he/she can’t work
- Long-term work disability wage loss benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation if the worker can work at a different job – if the employee is trained for that job
We are especially adept at showing that your illness, which often appears years later, was related to the toxins at the oil field site where you worked.
- Personal injury claims. Not everyone exposed to toxic materials is an employee of the oil and gas companies. We represent independent contractors who are suffering because oil field owners, contractors, and others failed to follow federal safety regulations or industry safety standards. We also represent individuals and families who have developed illnesses or injuries because of chemical leaks, groundwater contamination and aerosol exposure.
- Toxic injury class actions. When multiple people are exposed, those victims can pursue a class action lawsuit, along with other injury victims. These are referred to as “toxic torts,” and they are extremely complex litigation matters.
- Product liability. If a product defect caused the chemical exposure, or faulty protective gear failed to keep you safe from harm, we can bring a product liability lawsuit against the chemical manufacturers and other responsible parties. Some workers may also be entitled to file for Social Security Disability Insurance.
Speak with a strong Oklahoma City toxic exposure lawyer today
Anyone who has been exposed or contaminated due to contact with toxic chemicals needs to get immediate medical treatment. At Cunningham & Mears, we review which doctors you’re seeing and work with independent doctors when necessary to make sure you are getting the right treatment for your injuries. We work with chemical experts who understands which toxins are dangerous and why. We work with construction site professionals who can explain what went wrong at your construction site. To make an appointment, please contact us or call us 405-232-1212 to schedule an appointment.