Oklahoma Supreme Court Says Injured Oilfield Workers Can Sue Well Operators
The Oklahoma Supreme Court decided unanimously that oilfield workers hurt in oilfield and oil well accidents do have the right to bring a civil lawsuit against the well operator. The decision is the result of a lawsuit filed by Attorney Jacob Biby for Frank Benedetti, an oilfield worker who was permanently disabled after slipping and falling down an icy stairwell on-the-job. Benedetti sued for negligence and the defendant – Cimarex Energy Co. – tried to counter by saying they could not be sued on those grounds due to the protective laws.
Both the county court and the appellate court agreed with Cimarex, but Attorney Biby persisted. The case ultimately went to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, who agreed with Biby and his client. Before the decision was made by the Supreme Court, natural gas well operators were suspiciously protected by a workers’ compensation law that made them exempt from civil liability. The Supreme Court found the exemption to be “unconstitutional” and ordered that section of the statute stricken from the law.
With the legal protection removed, gas and oil well operators can be brought to civil court with personal injury claims filed by injured oilfield workers or the surviving families of decedents. As Attorney Biby of Martin Jean & Jackson discussed in an interview published by NewsOK, the addition of civil liability in oilfield accidents allows injured workers to gain a more complete recovery after being wrongfully injured on-the-job. A workers’ compensation case in Oklahoma can only provide benefits for permanent disability but not lost wages and noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering. Injured workers can now pursue both types of cases.
If you would like to see the full NewsOK article featuring Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney Biby, you can click here to visit the newsgroup’s official website. If you have been injured while working on an oilfield and believe your employer’s negligence was to blame, you can contact our firm by dialing (580) 290-1006. During an initial free consultation, we can determine if you have a valid injury claim to file against the well operator. Martin Jean & Jackson has offices in Tulsa, Stillwater, and Ponca City.