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Montana oil field worker sues for severe burns

The Bakken oil fields in eastern Montana and western North Dakota have meant a lot of high-paying jobs. But the work is dangerous, and oil field workers risk injury and death every day they are on the job. Recently a Montana man who suffered severe burns in an oil field accident recovered a multi-million dollar settlement for his injuries.

The 32-year-old man was working in a convenience store in Sidney, Montana when talk of high wages lured him to the oil fields. At a drilling site in North Dakota, he was instructed to use a solvent to clean some pipe. Unfortunately he was not told the solvent he was using was flammable. Nearby, a fellow worker was heating the pipe with a propane torch.

The torch ignited the Montana man's clothing, with tragic results. He was engulfed in flames for several minutes. There were no operable fire extinguishers in the vicinity. Coworkers rolled him in the snow in an attempt to smother the fire. EMTs rushed him by ambulance to a casino parking lot, where a helicopter took him to a Williston hospital.

Since the accident the man has had multiple surgeries at a burn center in Minnesota. His injuries have left him with a permanent disability; he will be unable to work for the rest of his life.

When a Montana worker is injured on the job, he or she is entitled by law to workers' compensation benefits. The benefits are paid regardless of who is at fault in the accident, and they cover medical expenses, lost wages, retraining and disability expenses. If a company other than the employer was at fault in causing the accident, the worker can file a lawsuit against that company and recover damages over and above the workers' compensation benefits.

Source: KAJ18.com, "Danger in the Bakken - Part 2," Victoria Fregoso, Jan. 31, 2014

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