The development of technology to extract oil from the Bakken Shale fields of Montana and North Dakota has brought an unprecedented economic boom to the region. Well-paying jobs have attracted a lot of Montana workers to the oil industry. The work is tough and it can be dangerous. When a Montana oil field worker suffers a workplace injury accident or an occupational disease, they may be left wondering how to provide for their family.
The first source of financial recovery will usually be Montana’s workers’ compensation system. As long as the injury occurred while on the job, benefits are available to cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages due to temporary or permanent disability. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid regardless of whether the employer was at fault. The employee is generally barred, however, from bringing a civil lawsuit against the employer and recovering damages above and beyond what is payable by workers’ compensation.
In some cases, however, it is possible to bring a lawsuit against a third party and recover additional damages, including pain and suffering damages, wage loss amounts not covered by workers’ compensation, and loss of future earning capacity. This type of lawsuit, known as a third party lawsuit, is available if the injured work accident victim can prove that a third party other than the employer or a co-employee was at fault in causing the accident. For example, if a worker is injured by a truck driven by a contractor at the site, or by defectively designed drilling equipment, the worker can sue the responsible third party.
The information in this post is general information only and should not be taken as specific legal advice. If you have been injured on the job in the oil fields, consulting a Montana oil field accident law firm may be your first step to financial recovery.
Source: Mont. Code Ann. § 39-71-412, accessed on Dec. 28, 2014