Texas workers injured in oil field accidents, as well as their families, have the right to seek damages from the liable party. However, sometimes it falls to the court to determine who is liable for the accident. Such is the case in a lawsuit against the operator of an oil field near Quinton, Oklahoma regarding a fire that killed five men in January. While acknowledging that negligence contributed to the fire and the deaths that resulted from it, the operator claims that the fault lies with the subcontractors in charge of the site’s operations.
Five men, ages 26 to 60, lost their lives in the fire that broke out on January 22nd, one of the worst oil field accidents in U.S. history. Both sides acknowledge that insufficient safety measures in place at the drill site caused the fire. At issue is the consistency of the drilling mud, a thick fluid used to prevent blowouts by controlling pressure inside the well and cooling the drill bit. The lawsuit alleges that, in an attempt to misrepresent the productivity of the well to potential investors, as well as to save money, the operator ordered its contractors to use drilling mud that was too light and thin.
However, the president of the company that operates the well counters that the company provided a range of options for workers to choose from when designing its drilling program and did its due diligence in dictating mud weights to the contractors in charge of the site. Therefore, the president of the company alleges, it is the contractors who committed negligence rather than the operator. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the men who died also names the consulting company as defendants.
Due to the dangerous nature of oil field employment, workers and their families have the right to hold those responsible to account when accidents do occur. Therefore, those affected by oil field accidents may wish to consult an attorney.