Oil Rig Accident Causes Brain Injury: Compensation for Serious Work Accidents
A Texas jury recently awarded four men working on an oil rig $1.3 million in compensation for brain injuries suffered during a worksite accident. A news report by KGBT-TV in Texas reported that the electricians were working in the engine room of an oil rig that was dry docked. Another work crew accidentally caused the engine room to fill with carbon dioxide as the crew performed work on the fire suppression system for the oil rig. Two of the injured workers suffered serious brain injuries after being deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes. The four workers were found unconscious, foaming at the mouth, and experiencing convulsions. This case raises a number of issues about workers' compensation and personal injury claims arising out of a workplace injury. Two of the men are permanently disabled because of their injuries.
This tragic accident was apparently the result of the failure to follow appropriate safety procedures. According to the news report, there were a number of safety procedures that were not implemented, such as clearing the room and activating the stop valve. Inspection reports also showed that the CO2 alarm in the engine room had not functioned for over two years.
Serious incidents like these are not uncommon in many high risk jobs, so workers need to understand their legal rights and remedies when serious industrial accidents occur. If this accident had happened in Georgia, the injured workers could pursue two avenues to obtain compensation for their work-related injuries. Since the electricians were performing job duties during the incident, the Georgia workers' compensation system would normally provide an exclusive remedy against the workers' employer, subject to narrow exceptions. Workers' compensation claims typically provide three basic types of benefits:
- Medical Benefits: The employer's insurance company will pay for your medical bills. In fact, you should not even receive a bill because the hospital and medical bills should go directly to your employer or your employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. Medical benefits also include mileage for doctor's visits and the cost of prescriptions.
- Wage Benefits: If you are temporarily disabled, so that you cannot return to work, you can receive benefits to replace lost income. The amount of this benefit is two-thirds of your weekly wage, based on averaging your weekly wages over the 13 months preceding your accident. The amount of these wage benefits are capped at $500 per week.
- Permanent Partial or Total Disability Benefits: If you are partially or totally disabled, your level of disability will be rated. Based on the rating you will be entitled to permanent disability benefits.
This is really just a cursory overview of the benefits available when you file a workers' compensation claim, so the determination of benefits can be fairly complicated. If you have specific questions about your situation, we invite you to speak to an experienced workers' compensation attorney at Montlick & Associates.
Returning to the oil rig accident, there were other businesses that allegedly contributed to the accident, including a fire suppression company and a drilling contractor. When the negligence of entities or individuals other than an injured worker's employer contribute to a work injury, these parties are not immune from a personal injury lawsuit. Because a personal injury claim typically provides a more substantial recovery, our Atlanta work injury attorneys always evaluate the feasibility of pursuing both a workers' compensation claim against our client's employer and a third-party personal injury claim. This dual strategy can provide the fullest recovery for an injured employee.
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Our attorneys at Montlick & Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins, and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located, our attorneys are just a phone call away and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.