The process of extracting oil from deep within the earth’s surface is a fascinating one. The most common method of oil drilling is known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for short. The process of fracking involves the injection of a pressurized liquid into the bedrock or subterranean layers of the earth. The pressurized liquid then works to open existing cracks or fissures in the rock. The opening of these cracks allows for the extraction of oil below the surface.
Some oil drilling takes place as deep as 30,000 feet below land. For reference, the average depth of the ocean is 12,430 feet. It is easy to imagine the massive amounts of force and pressure that must occur in order to plunge deep into the earth to extract oil. As a result of such powerful forces, accidents and explosions are prone to happen.
The consequences of an oil rig explosion can be severe and catastrophic, often leading to serious injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, oil companies do not always protect offshore workers the way that they should. Violations of laws and policies can lead to these massive blasts. If you or a loved one have been affected by an oil rig explosion in the United States, you should contact a skilled national oil rig explosion accident lawyer right away.
How Often Do Oil Rigs Explode?
According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), there were a total of 55 explosions in the United States’ oil and gas industry between 2007 and 2020. This equates to about four explosions per year. 2018 saw the most reported explosions, with six, and the low point was 2009, when just one explosion was reported. There are many potential factors that might lead to an oil rig explosion, including:
- Improper drilling techniques
- Weather-related events such as lightning or high winds
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Improper storage of hazardous and flammable materials
- Electrical faults
- Overheating or malfunctioning machinery
Oil rig workers should be aware of the potential warning signs of an explosion and must be prepared to take action in order to prevent potentially catastrophic events. Similarly, companies that specialize in offshore drilling must regularly inspect equipment and ensure that all safety protocols are being followed during this very dangerous process.
Determining Fault for Oil Rig Explosions
If you or your family have been injured in an oil rig explosion, you could have legal recourse. In order to bring a claim against an offshore oil drilling company or other third party, certain legal requirements must be met.
First, you must establish negligence. As a legal concept, negligence means that the other party failed to act within a reasonable standard of care. In oil rig explosions, this can mean that the company failed to properly maintain its equipment, and that failure led to an explosion. It can also mean that the company negligently hired or did not properly train or supervise its employees. Improper drilling procedures are a very common cause of oil rig explosions.
Once you have determined who was at fault, you must show that the negligent party’s actions were a direct cause of the explosion. Since most oil rig explosions happen off the coast of the United States, the BSEE, as a federal agency, is responsible for most oil rig explosion investigations. BSEE staff will thoroughly investigate the blast and will document their opinion as to the cause of the explosion. These incident reports are valuable to injured victims as they explain exactly how the explosion happened and what went wrong along the way.
Victims who have been injured in an explosion accident likely have suffered serious injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Chemical burns
- Loss of limbs
The serious injuries caused by an oil rig explosion generate an expensive personal injury case most of the time. Offshore oil companies have found themselves paying billions of dollars in claims following recent major explosions. In most instances, the company’s procedures were inadequate, directly leading to unnecessary pain and suffering for victims and family members.
Filing Suit After an Oil Rig Explosion
Oil rig explosion litigation can be complex. When legal action is necessary, it often means going up against major United States oil production companies. One such famous case was the Deepwater Horizon suit, originating from the explosion of an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana in 2010. The explosion resulted in the deaths of 11 workers, along with 17 reported injuries. A total of 77 cases were filed against BP for its role in failing to follow industry standards and federal laws leading up to the explosion. Ultimately, BP ended up paying more than $6 billion in settlements and government fines for its role in the blast.
The BP litigation is an example of just how large-scale oil rig cases can become. While not all explosions are so massive in scope, victims still must deal with companies who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. Insurance adjusters work on behalf of offshore oil drilling companies. These adjusters are trained to be reluctant to pay out large claims.
If victims are forced to file litigation after an oil rig explosion, it is imperative to have an experienced attorney with knowledge of how to handle these types of cases. Given the complexities and large amounts of resources required to fight major oil companies, it certainly pays to have a strong law firm on your side.
Hire a National Oil Rig Explosion Attorney
Oil drilling companies are sued on a regular basis. However, in order to make them pay for their mistakes, you need a law firm that is prepared to fight. Here at Burg Simpson, we take these cases seriously. Our national oil rig explosion accident attorneys have recovered more than $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for injured victims. We are not afraid of or intimidated by large corporations on the other side of a case.
We offer free consultations for all potential and prospective clients, and there is no fee unless we win. To speak with one of our lawyers, please contact us using the online intake form or give us a call at (866) 695-1839.