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Oil company agrees to pay $2.1 million after deadly North Dakota accident

Image courtesy of MGN

BISMARCK, N.D. (Valley News Live) An oilfield company was ordered to pay more than $2 million in damages after pleading guilty to a federal charge related to an accident at its western North Dakota facility that killed a war veteran.

Dustin Payne, 28, was working in the company’s Williston facility when a tank exploded in October of 2014 and he was fatally injured, according to the United States Department of Justice.

At the time of the deadly incident, the company was called Nabors Completion and Production Services (NCPS).

Payne was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite surviving two wars, Payne died after moving to North Dakota to work in the booming oil industry.

“Companies have an obligation to educate North Dakota workers and when they fail to meet those obligations, we will hold them accountable,” U.S. Attorney Drew H. Wrigley of North Dakota said.

The successor to NCPS, C&J Well Services, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to a willful violation of the statue requiring that tanks be cleaned before welding.

U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland sentenced C&J to pay a $500,000 file, $1.6 million in restitution to the victim’s estate, and a three-year term of probation.

During the probation period, the company must allow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “inspect its facilities and equipment across the country without a warrant, without advance notice and without a specified inspection reason,” according to the media release.

Payne reportedly welded an uncleaned tanker trailer that had flammable chemicals. He also didn’t receive any welding-specific training.

Federal law makes it illegal to weld on tanks or containers that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned.

“Employers that willfully fail to follow workplace safety laws will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said.

Do You Need An Oilfield Lawyer?

The oil industry continues to grow with the world’s demand for oil and natural gas.  With this increased demand, there has also been an increase in accidents causing serious injury and death to workers who often are inadequately trained or supervised.  We offer experienced, strategic support to protect the rights of our clients and their families after suffering a serious oil field injury or death.

After an accident, it is important to work with an experienced legal team that can collect and preserve all necessary evidence for your case including physical evidence, accident reports, corporate documentation, witness statements, and expert opinions.  Our team will begin an immediate investigation to identify the cause of the accident and pursue claims against all liable parties.

An oilfield injury or death may be caused by:

Company failure to take reasonable precautions

Improper employee training

Safety Violations

Improper maintenance of equipment

Defective products & machinery

Drug & alcohol abuse

Negligent operation

 Individuals injured by oil field accidents often suffer catastrophic injuries, including wrongful death.  Our team has the legal and medical experience to effectively handle a range of cases involving serious & complex injuries caused by explosions and burns, falls, defective products and equipment, toxic fumes and fires.

We are committed to pursuing an aggressive case against all liable parties and will seek to collect the full compensation you are entitled to for lost wages, pain and suffering, long-term care needs, disability and impairment, and any additional personal or financial losses you have sustained.

Oil Field Accidents and Injuries are on the Rise

Oil and gas industry injuries are the most dangerous and fatal in the country.  From 2003 to 2010, the U.S. oil and gas industry (both onshore and offshore combined) had a collective fatality rate that was 7 times higher than the rate for all U.S. workers combined. Louisiana had 5 catastrophic refinery and oil rig explosions between January and October 2017, more than any other state in the country.

What to do After an Oil Field Accident

  • Stop working immediately
  • Report your injury as soon as possible.
  • Ask for immediate medical treatment.
  • Do not give a formal statement, sign ANY paperwork, or accept any money from the company (besides your normal paycheck) prior to speaking with an experience oil field injury lawyer.
  • Contact an experienced Oil Field Accident Lawyer as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an oil field accident / explosion or a wrongful death has occurred, it is imperative that you Contact Giunta Law Today!

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