A personal injury is an incident that occurs when a person suffers some harm or injury due to another person’s negligent or intentional actions. A personal injury can damage a plaintiff’s (i.e., the person that was allegedly harmed) emotional health, physical health, or both.
Mental health issues typically include emotional pain and anguish sustained in the accident but often must be supported by visits to a psychiatrist, etc. Physical injuries can include injuries to the plaintiff’s organs, limbs, muscles, bones, or other body parts.
After an accident, an injured person, in most cases, can file a private personal injury claim against the responsible party. Such private actions will be civil court proceedings and allow a successful plaintiff to collect compensatory damages for their injuries. Criminal actions may also be separately filed if the incident which led to the plaintiff’s injury was also criminal, such as an assault.
As mentioned above, personal injuries may occur intentionally, including cases in which a defendant deliberately injures a plaintiff. However, the most common personal injury cases are due to an individual’s unintentional actions or inactions. If an unintentional injury results from a person’s negligence, the injured party can initiate a civil lawsuit based on those negligent actions.
What Are Drilling Rig Accidents?
Drilling rigs are a class of machinery that bore holes into the earth’s surface. Drilling rigs can range in size from large structures used for commercial purposes to smaller truck-sized machines used for less intensive drilling projects.
Drilling rigs are typically used for mining and drilling operations that involve retrieving natural resources from beneath the earth’s surface. Natural resources that a drilling rig may obtain may include the retrieval of oil, minerals, petroleum, water, precious minerals, or other substances.
Drilling rig accidents can occur in many different ways due to both the machines’ complexity and the wide scope of drilling rigs. Many drilling rigs can drill very deep into the earth and, as such, require large amounts of power and long drilling structures. Further, drilling rigs can be massive structures that are isolated or based in the water.
Accidents that may occur in connection with a drilling rig include:
- Collapses of the rig structures or drilling pathways;
- Explosions and fires;
- Accidents that are related to specific drilling rig parts;
- Accidents caused by the toxic environment;
- Accidents resulting from friction or other heat-related accidents; and/or
- Accidents resulting from natural gas or oil spills and leaks.
With so many possible accidents that may occur while operating a drilling rig, special safety precautions must be followed whenever drilling rigs are operated. In most cases, a person must be properly licensed in order to operate a drilling rig.
What Are Some Common Drilling Rig Injuries?
As mentioned above, numerous accidents may occur while on or operating a drilling rig. Depending on the type of accident, there can be a wide range of injuries. Common injuries occurring while on or operating a drilling rig can range from minor injuries, such as burns, to more severe injuries, such as death. Examples of the most common drilling rig injuries include:
- Burns, either due to either hot materials, fires, or chemical exposure;
- Broken bones or crushed limbs due to falling structures;
- Minor or severe lacerations;
- Head, neck, or back injuries; or
- Various other types of personal injuries.
In some cases, drilling rig accidents can also lead to large oil or chemical spills affecting the surrounding environment. These accidents can create various waste hazards and injure many people, especially if there is an issue with mass toxic exposure. For example, groundwater may become contaminated.
What Legal Theories Apply to Drilling Rig Accidents?
As can be seen, there are various different scenarios in which an individual can be injured while operating or on a drilling rig. As such, liability for a drilling rig accident can be traced to many people.
For instance, an operator may be held directly liable for another person’s injuries if they were negligent in handling the machine. Further, a drill manufacturer may be held liable if a defect with the rig caused the accident to occur and resulted in an injury to a person. Additionally, the drilling rig itself may not be safe, and the owner of the rig may be held liable for not taking reasonable steps to ensure the rig was safe.
The following are legal theories that may apply to a drilling rig accident:
- Product Liability: Product liability is the set of legal statutes that hold a manufacturer, wholesaler, or product seller accountable for defective or falsely advertised products in the stream of commerce.
- Under product liability statutes, any party responsible for any part of the manufacture or sale of a defective product may be held liable for injuries resulting from that defective product’s use.
- For example, if there is a defect in the drilling rig that results in an injury to the operator, the operator may sue the manufacturer of that specific part, the business that distributed or sold the specific part, or even the installer of the part for their damages;
- Premises Liability: Premises liability is the set of laws holding property owners, such as the drilling rig owner, responsible for accidents and injuries on their property.
- Premises liability law requires that property owners, such as drilling rig owners and operators, ensure the safety of any person who enters their property. This includes workers.
- Additionally, the property owner must take all reasonable measures to prevent injuries to persons entering and remaining on their property.
- As a legal concept, premises liability is commonly associated with personal injury cases in which a person’s injury was caused by unsafe or defective conditions on a property owner’s property, such as falling or other unsafe structures;
- Negligence: Negligence is the legal theory that allows an injured person to recover for the carelessness of others, and was discussed above or
- Intentional Torts: Intentional torts are wrongful acts done to another person on purpose.
- It is important to note that it is not necessary to prove that the defendant (i.e., the person that committed the act) intended to harm the plaintiff (i.e., the person that was harmed). It is only necessary to show that the defendant intentionally did something that caused harm to the plaintiff.
- For example, if one person throws a tool off a platform and that tool strikes another person causing them injury, that person may be held liable for the injuries they caused to the other person.
Liabilities for accidents that occur on or as a result of the operation of a drilling rig result in a monetary damages award through a private personal injury suit brought against the responsible party by the plaintiff. The damages award will often cover expenses such as medical expenses, hospital bills, loss of earning capacity, loss of income, and other losses.
Once again, many drilling rig injuries are typically considered on-the-job or work-related accidents. In those cases, the legal consequences for the injured party’s injuries may also extend to an employer if the employer is found negligent. Additionally, workers’ compensation laws may come into play.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help With a Drilling Rig Accident?
As can be seen, drilling rig accidents can often lead to serious injuries. In some cases, these drilling rig accidents can affect multiple people all at the same time. For example, in the case of an explosion, multiple parties may be injured.
If you have been harmed while on or operating a drilling rig, it is in your best interests to immediately consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine your best course of legal action and help you determine the party or parties that may be held liable for your injuries.
Additionally, an attorney can initiate a private lawsuit against the responsible parties on your behalf. Finally, an attorney can also represent you in court, as necessary.