August 20, 2019
Oilfield Accident Attorneys – Personal Injury Lawyers
Oil Patch Defendants Always Say it’s Not Their Fault: but Yours
If your drilling employer is a workers’ comp insurance non-subscriber, or the third party against whom you’ve filed an injury claim has private coverage, then he or she isn’t likely to automatically pay you for the harm you’ve suffered due to that negligence. That’s because the insurance company doesn’t want your employer to do that. And paying a claim will certainly produce even higher coverage rates for the defendant(s). Our experience in these matters has revealed that most non-subscribers, their insurance companies and attorneys will often one or two traditional defenses to avoid paying injured employees the restitution they deserve.
The primary liability defense afforded non-subscribers after an oilfield employee suffers an injury is to charge the plaintiff with sole proximate cause. This means the victim was totally to blame for his or her own injuries. In order to invoke the sole proximate cause defense, non-subscribing employers, their insurance companies and attorneys say and do anything to soil your good reputation as a worker by claiming you were careless or irresponsible and caused your own injuries. And since insurance companies are very experienced, and their attorneys very shrewd, when it comes to fighting your claim or civil case, your own cunning oilfield accident attorney to turn the tables of liability back on the negligent employer or third party is a powerful weapon on your behalf.
Defendants Question the Employer-Employee Relationship in Order to Avoid Paying You
When you are injured on a drilling rig, many clever employers place themselves in a position to claim you are technically not their employee, but rather, a contractor. This tactic is supposed to help them avoid responsibility for your drilling rig injury since no Texas employer is liable for their subcontractors or their employees’ injuries. So by claiming this technicality to deny the existence of an employer-employee relationship between you and the company, they then pose the question of why they should be for compensating an injured non-employee?
But most of the time, it’s a ruse. They hire their employees as employees, not as contractors or as temp workers through a third-party. They know that an actual employer-employee relationship exists and the injured worker has the right to obtain compensation against this non-subscriber. They’re just hoping no one will find out a release has been signed by this worker who is unaware of the employer’s subterfuge, then accepts compensation for his injuries that would never fully compensate him. But a skillful, well-seasoned drilling rig accident lawyer can quickly reveal this employer for what he really is, and prove the employer-employee relationship by meeting at least one, and often more, of the following standards of employment:
Social security or taxes have been withheld from your paycheck by the employer.
The essential equipment for the job was supplied to you by the employer.
Your work has been regularly managed, overseen or inspected by your employer.
A specific work schedule has been set for the job by the employer. You are not free to come-and-go as you please.
Your employer requires you to complete a task or sign a document that limits your rights while working for the employer. The most common examples are taking a drug test or signing a document that states you comply with an employee handbook.
You have been employed for an undetermined period of time and not just for a single job.
In cases where a worker is borrowed from another company, or a third-party agency, and then is injured on the job, the rules for determining the working relationship are similar to those above, but there can be some important differences. Some of these conditions may include:
If the borrowing employer has the power to hire or fire a borrowed worker at any time, the worker is clearly an employee. Otherwise, the worker is a contractor
Most of the time, if the borrowing employer is allowed to pick a particular worker, then the worker is an employee. If the agency that provides the worker is allowed to send any worker they choose, the worker is a contractor.
This answer is the same when it comes to tools and equipment. If the worker must provide them, that person is a contractor. If the employer provides them, the worker is an employee.
If the agency can substitute the borrowed worker for another at-will, the worker is a contractor. If the lending agency cannot, then the worker is an employee.
If the worker is borrowed indefinitely, then the worker is an employee. If the worker is borrowed for a specific project with a specific date of completion, the worker is a contractor.
If a worker is being borrowed or “leased” because of a skill that is unique or hard-to-find, then the worker is a contractor. But on the other hand, if an employer borrows a worker to fill a position that just about anyone can fill, then the worker is an employee.
If the borrowing employer agrees to pay the worker’s social security and income tax, then the worker is an employee. If the borrowing employer does not accept this responsibility, then the worker is a contractor.
A thorough investigation of your employer by a skilled drilling accident attorney proves the existence of any one of these standards. By accomplishing this, your employer finally knows he must is liable for all the damages owed to you. And his subterfuge, once it is brought out in the open usually doesn’t sit well with civil trial juries. So many times, this “he was my contractor” house-of-cards defense collapses. Then the employer will probably see reason and settle with you. Whether he does or not depends on the rest of the evidence you present. As you San Antonio drilling accident attorney, we will depose co-workers, review contracts and examine pay stubs to clearly prove establish that you were an employee when you suffered your drilling rig injury.