When you start a job in the oil or natural gas industry, you should understand the risks that you might be facing in the workplace. You should also talk to one of our Houston oil and natural gas injury attorneys to understand your rights as a worker. If you want to protect your right to sue for on-the-job injuries in Texas, you must reject workers’ compensation within the first 5 days of starting a new job. Otherwise, you may be limited in your right to sue after a serious workplace injury. For help understanding your rights and help understanding your potential case if you were injured on an oil rig, contact the Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm today.
When Can I Sue for Workplace Injuries in the Oil Industry?
Workers’ compensation is optional in Texas. In states where workers’ comp. is mandatory, workers have no choice but to file a claim through workers’ comp. to get compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. When you use workers’ comp. in Texas, you do not need to prove that your employer was negligent to get compensation, but you face the following drawbacks:
- You cannot receive damages for pain and suffering
- You receive only 2/3 of your normal wages as compensation
- You may not be able to choose your doctor if you want your care covered
Suing in a court of law allows you much higher damages and often eliminates these other drawbacks.
If you accept workers’ compensation when you start your job, you typically give up your right to sue. Instead, you must use the workers’ compensation system to get damages after most workplace injuries. However, Texas law allows you to opt out of workers’ compensation. By opting out, you keep your right to sue after an injury and may be able to take your employer to court if they negligently caused your injuries.
The way you handle a workplace injury is up to you – you can either use workers’ comp. or file a lawsuit. Using workers’ comp. may seem simpler, but it is a complex process, and many injured workers find the restrictions oppressive and the payouts much lower than anticipated. If you sue for your injuries, the process may take a longer time before you see compensation, but the compensation has the potential to be much higher. However, you can only sue if there was negligence that caused your injuries. Workers’ comp. allows coverage even if the accident was a true accident; there is no need to prove fault.
Talk to an attorney to explore your options and understand the choice that you are making. The decision to reject workers’ compensation must be made within your first 5 days working at a new job, but it can affect you months or years later if you suffer a workplace injury.
Can I Sue if I Didn’t Reject Workers’ Comp.?
One of the best ways to protect your right to sue is to reject workers’ compensation. However, if you accepted workers’ comp. and now face serious oil drilling injuries or oil refinery injuries, you may be stuck with workers’ comp. There are exceptions under these workers’ comp. rules that still allow you to sue for injuries, which our attorneys can help guide you through.
Workers’ comp. is not offered by every employer. That means that if you did not reject workers’ comp., it may be because your boss actually does not provide it. This means you still have the right to sue, and you should talk to a personal injury attorney immediately.
If you did accept workers’ comp., there are situations that workers’ comp. still allows you to sue for. Though it is rare, you can always sue your employer if they intentionally injure you. Fights at work, dangerous practical jokes, and other intentional injuries can be the basis of a lawsuit, even if you have workers’ comp.
You can also sue for injuries at work if a third-party caused your injuries. Workers’ compensation is a deal between you and your employer, but if you were injured by a co-worker’s negligence or a defective product manufactured by a third-party, you may be able to sue them even if you have workers’ comp. In cases of injury by a coworker, the coworker may not be able to afford the damages you faced, but you may still be able to reclaim some of the damages by suing them. In the case of injury by a defective product, you can typically take the equipment manufacturer to court and claim full damages for your injuries.
If you work in offshore oil, you may be able to sue under maritime law. This can help victims recover compensation for offshore oil rig injuries.
Dallas Oil Worker Injury Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was injured while working in the oil industry, contact The Queenan Law Firm today. Our Dallas injury attorneys represent injured roughnecks, roustabouts, and other oil workers injured on the job. Our attorneys fight to get you the compensation you need. If you are trying to decide whether to reject workers’ comp., call our lawyers today for help. If you were injured on the job, call our law offices to set up a free consultation on your potential injury case. Our number is (817) 476-1797.