On January 12, 2015, a documentary series "Fault Lines" featured
a documentary about the Bakken oil field entitled "Death on the Bakken
Shale." The documentary asserted that the Bakken oil field has the highest
oil field accident fatality rate in the United States.
Numerous Deaths in Recent Years
Those that produced the documentary looked at data from OSHA, the state
medical examiner and the Department of Labor that at least 40 workplace
deaths have occurred in the United States' portion of the Bakken old
and gas fields since 2011. Also, from 2009 to 2013, there were 9,000 injury
claims filed in North Dakota alone.
Welder Fearful Prior to Fatal Event
The documentary focused on three oil-field workers that died while on the
job. One was a 28-year-old Marine that had completed tours of duty in
both Afghanistan and Iraq. He received instructions to perform welds on
a tanker that had oil in it. He was so concerned about the assignment
that he texted his fiancé about his fears. Part of the text allegedly
read, "don't (feel) comfortable welding this at all." The
tanker then exploded, killing the welder.
Workers Compensation Payments Reported
Following the death, the state's Workforce Safety and Insurance Agency
(WSI) reportedly determined that the father of the deceased be paid $10,000
in burial expenses and another $15,000 for the loss of life. The documentary
relates how WSI noted the return of $700 million in workers compensation
insurance premiums to companies that operate in the state.
Due to the level of workers compensation payouts, attorneys have occasionally
considered filing negligence lawsuits alleging that companies intentionally
put workers at risk in some cases. When it is possible to reasonably allege,
a victim's family might consider the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit
under a state's wrongful death statutes.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or loss of life in a Bakken oil
field accident, it is possible to discuss the matter with an attorney
focused on relevant areas of the law. In such cases, Odegaard Brauckmann
Law offers a complimentary consultation. For more information, please