America’s oil fields, including those of the Bakken Shale region of Montana and North Dakota, are helping the United States become more energy independent. They are also providing a good living for a lot of people. But the work can be dangerous, and sometimes deadly. The hazards were tragically brought to light once again recently in Texas, where a 43-year-old man was killed in an oil field accident.
The victim was operating an excavator as an oil field demolition company was razing some structures at a job site near Seagrave, Texas. The victim’s co-workers were tearing down an oil silo when the silo toppled prematurely and fell on the victim and his equipment. The crush injury was fatal; the victim was declared dead by a local official shortly after the accident. He is survived by a wife and five kids.
In Montana, when a worker is killed in an on-the-job accident the surviving next of kin are entitled to collect death benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation statute. The death benefits cannot make up for the loss of a loved one, but they can help the family cope with the financial disaster of losing the income of a spouse, parent and provider.
Unlike those seeking damages in a non-work-related personal injury lawsuit, those claiming workers’ compensation benefits do not need to prove negligence or fault on the part of the employer. But making sure the employer-or often, the employer’s insurance carrier-pays all the benefits to which the family is entitled is often another matter. Sometimes the insurance company or the employer will try to avoid paying certain categories of benefits, or require extensive documentation before doing so. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help the family navigate the system and maximize their recovery.
Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, “Oilfield worker crushed by silo tank in Terry County,” Josie Musico, March 6, 2014