Oil Field and Oil Rig Accidents in Montana

By Anders Blewett

If you live in Montana, it is difficult to ignore the massive role the oil industry has on its economy.  There are 45 oil fields in Montana and according to Montana’s Petroleum Association it employs 7,499 people directly and 20,920 people indirectly. This region, known as The Bakken, is an oil rich formation that spans 200,000 square miles across Montana, North Dakota, and parts of Canada. The Bakken Fields in Montana and neighboring states have become infamous for their dangerous work places and the tragic oil field accidents that have occurred. While the Bakken oil boom has been an undisputed boon to Montana’s economy which has produced thousands of well-paying jobs, progress must still be made with regards to safety and reducing the number of injuries caused by oil field and oil rig accidents.

The Impacts on the Montana Economy

New oil field jobs have allowed Montana cities and towns to grow quite dramatically and offer better wages. For example, the city of Sidney, Montana is expected to double its population within the next few years. The amount of rent paid by oil rig workers for apartments in Sidney has sky rocketed from $300 monthly to $1500-$2000 monthly in some cases. Even unrelated jobs, such as office assistants can earn up to $21 per hour. Given the incredible economic opportunities that are flowing from the Bakken oil boom, it’s simple to see why some oil companies might overlook safety in their quest for profits.

Recent Accidents and Reaction

One key problem with the oil fields is that the expansion of oil extraction operations and the implementation of oil extracting technology has fast outpaced oil safety regulators and overwhelmed their capacity. The number of workers who have suffered injuries caused by oil rig accidents in Montana have been sizable, with many accidents being caused by explosions, fires, defective machinery and equipment or other unsafe work conditions.  Most recently, a string of explosive oil field accidents have occurred in Montana’s neighboring state, North Dakota. While no one was directly hurt in the explosions, clouds of toxic fumes spread to local towns which had to be evacuated. In reaction to the accidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation has warned that oil from the Bakken Fields is more flammable than traditional oil. This warning will allow better classification of transported oil and make cleanup teams more prepared for accidents. Unfortunately much of the recent progress regarding oil safety has come only after major oil field accidents and incidents.

Legal Remedies Available in Montana

If an oil company is responsible for an oil spill on your property or causes you personal injury, then you may be entitled to compensation. Such damages may include: lost income, clean up costs, loss of use of land, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Montana law requires polluters to clean up contaminated property regardless of the value of the property.  The reality is that cases involving oil accidents are quite complex and in most cases require the assistance of an experienced Oil Field Injury Lawyer in Montana to analyze all sources of recovery and to determine whether a party, other than your employer, is responsible for causing the accident or injury.

Do You Require Legal Assistance?

The Montana Oil Field Injury Attorneys at Hoyt and Blewett PLLC have decades of experience representing injured people in cases against multinational oil companies and railroads. The lawyers at Hoyt and Blewett can walk you through the legal process and determine your legal rights and what damages you may be entitled to. If you have been affected by oil spills and would like to discuss your legal remedies, do not hesitate to contact us.