Oilfield Injuries Rise As States Cut Workers CompMarch 6, 2015
As production in America’s oilfields has increased over the last decade, so have the number of oilfield injuries. At the same time, state after state has reduced their workers compensation programs. The states claim that they must cut back programs that protect workers to attract more businesses. Meanwhile, a ProPublica report has shown that workers who suffer an oilfield injury often slide into poverty and face increasing medical costs, without the support of the workers comp programs that could improve their lives.
Workers Comp Cuts And Oilfield Injuries
The ProPublica report exposed how nearly every state has made cuts to its workers comp programs in the last decade. In states dependent on the oil industry, state legislatures slash workers comp programs to appeal to the oil companies. Legislators who call for “reform” in workers comp programs write laws that increasingly favor oil companies and insurance providers. Meanwhile, reports of devastating oilfield injuries, as well as the costs in medical bills, lost wages and reduced productivity, continue to mount.
Man Loses Arm In Oilfield Injury
The report detailed the case of Dennis Whedbee, a 50-year-old derrickhand, who lost part of his left arm in an oilfield injury. At a drill site in North Dakota, Mr. Whedbee was hit by oil and sludge pressurized at more than 700 pounds per square inch. His fellow workers staunched the bleeding with a sweatshirt and a ratchet strap. Nearly three years after his oilfield injury, Mr. Whedbee and his family are contesting the decision by the state’s workers comp insurer not to cover the costs of a prosthesis that would restore the use of his left arm.
Are Oil Companies Writing State Oilfield Injury Protection Laws?
One remarkable case of how states’ workers comp programs are undercutting workers who suffer from oilfield injuries comes from Oklahoma. State Sen. Brian Bingman, the Republican president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate, told reporters that the state’s high worker’s comp rates have received complaints as being “way too high” and “the number one issue” in attracting oil companies. A 2013 workers comp reform bill was reportedly written, not by any legislator, but by an attorney at a drilling firm and a lobbyist for the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce.
Options For Oilfield Injury Cases
With the rise in oilfield injury incidents, the dangerous nature of the job, and the eroding protections offered by state agencies, workers are looking at limited prospects for their physical and economic recoveries. Many workers who have suffered from an oilfield injury consider contacting an attorney to sue for compensation. An experienced attorney understands the methods employers and insurers use to minimize or avoid paying workers comp claims for serious oilfield injuries.
Know Your Rights in an Oilfield Injury Lawsuit
To find out how we can help you with a oilfield injury lawsuit, contact us today at (713) 352-7975. Our friendly staff will ask a few questions about your case and connect you to an oilfield injury lawsuit attorney. You can also fill out the “Free Case Evaluation” form at the top of this page.