The Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota have provided substantial returns for oil companies. Unfortunately, sometimes safety takes a back seat to profits. In November of 2010 a Montana man, now 30 years old, suffered devastating injuries in a fire at a drilling rig. Recently, the man recovered a settlement worth at least $10 million.
The man was employed as a contractor at a North Dakota drilling site when the fire broke out. He suffered disfigurement from burns to his chest, hands, face and head as a result of his burns. He has already gone through a dozen surgical procedures, and says he will need many more in the future. He will never be able to work again due to his permanent disability.
The man brought a lawsuit against a company that was on the site but was not his employer. He alleged that the company failed to provide adequate training or fire-retarding clothing. He also alleged there none of the fire extinguishers at the job site were in working condition.
A worker who is injured on the job in an oil field accident has the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. The benefits include compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and temporary and permanent disability. An employer who pays workers’ compensation benefits is immune from a civil lawsuit. But if another company on the job site caused or contributed to the accident, a work accident victim can sue that company and recover additional damages, including pain and suffering.
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Attorneys say Montana man severely injured in Bakken fire gets $10 million-plus in settlement,” Matthew Brown, Nov. 20, 2013