What Happens if My Workers’ Comp Claim is Denied After an Oilfield Accident?  - Sand Law North Dakota
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What Happens if My Workers’ Comp Claim is Denied After an Oilfield Accident? 

16th August 2023

There are a lot of dangerous jobs in North Dakota, of course. There were 34 work-related deaths in our state in 2021. But oilfield work is especially hazardous. There have been more than 70 deaths in North Dakota oilfields since 2006. However, not all oilfield accidents are fatal. Though, they can lead to severe, life-altering injuries. When an accident occurs, workers rely on workers’ compensation to provide financial support for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation.

However, there are instances where insurers deny legitimate workers’ compensation claims. The following is a look at the causes of oilfield accidents, common reasons for claims denial, and the steps to take if an insurer denies your claim.

The attorneys with Sand Law are ready to answer all your questions and fight for your rights if an insurance company has denied your workers’ comp claim. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling 701-609-1510 for a free consultation.

Causes of Oilfield Accidents in Fargo, North Dakota

Oilfields are inherently hazardous workplaces due to the combination of complex operations, heavy machinery, high-pressure systems, and flammable materials. Accidents in these environments can result in severe injuries, fatalities, and environmental damage. Here’s a look at some of the common reasons these accidents occur.

Equipment Malfunctions

Oilfields contain several types of hazardous equipment, such as drilling rigs, pumps, valves, and pipelines. If any of these critical components experience malfunctions or failures, it can lead to accidents. Equipment breakdowns can result from poor maintenance, wear and tear, manufacturing defects, or inadequate inspections.

Human Errors

Human errors also play a significant role in oilfield accidents. These errors can stem from various factors, including fatigue, lack of proper training, communication breakdowns, and misjudgment. Operators, technicians, and other personnel must make split-second decisions in a high-pressure environment, and mistakes can have catastrophic consequences.

Inadequate Training

Oilfield operations require specialized training to ensure workers know the potential risks and how to operate equipment safely. Inadequate training can lead to improper use of machinery, mishandling of materials, and failure to follow safety protocols, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Lack of Proper Safety Protocols

Accidents in oilfields can occur when workers fail to follow safety protocols and procedures. These protocols include guidelines for working near flammable substances, using personal protective equipment, handling chemicals, and responding to emergencies. Ignoring or bypassing safety protocols can result in accidents that might otherwise have been preventable.

Pressure and Flow Hazards

Oil and gas extraction involves high-pressure systems prone to leaks, blowouts, and explosions. Improper pressure management, valve failures, or equipment malfunctions can result in sudden releases of highly pressurized substances, causing fires, explosions, and worker injuries.

Transportation Accidents

Oil and gas transportation involves moving heavy machinery and hazardous materials across rugged terrain. Accidents can occur while transporting equipment, materials, or fuel, leading to collisions, rollovers, and spills. More than 200 U.S. oil and gas workers died in motor vehicle collisions between 2003 and 2009. Oilfield workers are nine times more likely to die in a vehicle accident than workers in any other industry.

Flammable Materials

Oilfields are filled with flammable and combustible materials, including oil, gas, chemicals, and solvents. If these substances are not adequately contained, stored, and handled, they can ignite and cause fires, explosions, and toxic exposure to workers.

Complex Processes

Operating an oilfield involves several intricate processes, such as drilling, extraction, refining, and transportation. The complexity of these processes increases the potential for errors, accidents, and tragic outcomes.

Common Reasons Claims are Denied

Several factors can lead to the denial of workers’ compensation claims after an oilfield accident. These include:

Delay in Notifying a Supervisor

You must report the accident to your employer immediately. Failing to do so could raise suspicions about the legitimacy of your claim. Employers and insurance companies often require immediate notification to investigate the incident and ensure that the injuries are related to the workplace.

Failure to Seek Medical Treatment

Insurers may assume your injuries aren’t severe if you don’t seek timely medical treatment after an accident. They may also assume the accident wasn’t the reason you’re hurt. Seeking medical attention promptly is crucial for documenting the extent of your injuries and their connection to the accident.

The Statute of Limitations

In North Dakota, the deadline (or statute of limitations) to file a workers’ comp claim is within one year of the injury. If the accident was fatal, a representative of the deceased has two years from the date of the victim’s death. Failing to meet either deadline could result in a claim denial. It’s essential to understand and adhere to these time limits.

The Employer Refutes Liability

Sometimes, employers might contest the claim by arguing that the accident didn’t occur during employment or that the worker was not following safety protocols. This dispute over liability can lead to a denial of the claim.

Steps to Take if Your Claim is Denied

Don’t give up if your employer or insurer denies your claim. There are several steps you can take, including the following:

  • Review the denial letter: Read the insurance company denial letter carefully. This will help you understand why the denial occurred. You’ll also learn about the specific documentation required to appeal the decision.
  • Consult an attorney: Speak with an oilfield injury attorney immediately. They can guide you through the appeals process, ensure proper documentation, and advocate for your rights.
  • Gather evidence: Collect all relevant evidence, including medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and any correspondence related to the accident and your claim.
  • File an appeal: Work with your attorney to file an appeal according to the guidelines provided in the denial letter. This typically involves submitting additional evidence and documentation to support your claim.

How an Oilfield Injury Attorney Can Help You Receive Compensation for Your Damages

An experienced oilfield injury attorney can provide several benefits. These advantages include the following:

  • Legal expertise: Attorneys understand workers’ compensation laws and regulations and will use that knowledge to protect your rights.
  • Evidence gathering: A skilled lawyer also knows what evidence is necessary to prove your claim and can help you gather and present it effectively. You may be able to take action against a third party that contributed to the accident. An attorney will collect the proof needed to give you the best chance of getting the money you deserve.
  • Negotiation skills: Your legal representative can negotiate with insurance companies and employers to ensure you receive fair compensation.
  • Appeals process: If the insurance company denies your claim, an attorney can guide you through the appeals process, increasing your chances of success.

Contact Sand Law ASAP to Schedule a Free Case Review

Acting quickly is crucial if you’re facing a denied workers’ compensation claim after an oilfield accident. Contact Sand Law online or call 701-609-1510 to schedule a free case review. We’ll help you understand your legal options and determine the best course of action to pursue maximum compensation. We have offices in Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Williston, Minot, and Watford City.