The oil fields of Montana's Bakken Shale have led to many new jobs for the region. But critics of the oil and gas industry say that a culture of maximizing production and minimizing costs has led to unnecessary oil field accidents. The recent death of a 23-year-old roughneck from a crush injury illustrates the problem.
When a Montana oil field worker is injured on the job, his or her first avenue of recovery is usually a workers' compensation claim against his employer. If the negligence of a third party, other than the worker's employer, contributed to the accident, the worker can also bring a civil lawsuit against that third party for damages. This appears to be what attorneys for an oil field worker injured on the job in a 2009 accident in Goldsmith, Texas did. The strategy paid off: in October of this year, a West Texas jury awarded the worker and his family $11 million in damages arising out of a 2009 accident that caused severe damage to the man's right arm.