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North Dakota Personal Injury Law Blog

Workers' comp available for silica damage despite new regulations

Employees involved in the manufacture of glass, ceramics, bricks, pottery and artificial stone may be exposed to the dangers posed by crystalline silica. In the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota, many workers' comp claims are filed by workers who are typically also exposed to these dangerous particles. Without the necessary personal protective equipment, workers can become victims of life-threatening diseases.

Crystalline silica is a mineral originating from the crust of the earth, and it is present in sand, mortar, concrete and stone. Safety authorities say about 100 particles of silica could be compared to a single grain of sand. These minuscule particles become airborne and are inhaled by workers during activities such as crushing, drilling, sawing, grinding and cutting materials in the manufacturing and oil and gas industries.

Dangerous product: Man alleges asbestos caused his lung cancer

Lung cancer that is caused by asbestos can develop years after the victim worked in circumstances in which he or she was exposed. Asbestos is a dangerous product of which fine particles are inhaled, and they collect in the lining of the lungs and other organs. Victims in North Dakota and other states may be entitled to file products liability lawsuits against manufacturers of asbestos-containing products to which they were exposed.

A man and his wife in another state filed such a lawsuit recently. The man was apparently diagnosed with lung cancer last September. Allegedly, the disease was caused by asbestos to which the plaintiff was exposed from 1958 through 1988. He named three companies as defendants, alleging that they failed to use available, safe substitutes for asbestos in the products they manufactured, installed, sold and distributed.

Family claims negligence caused fatal job injury on oil field

The North Dakota workers' compensation program is a no-fault system by which benefits are paid to injured workers regardless of who was at fault. An employee may not sue an employer, except in the case of the job injury following gross negligence by the employer. Such a claim was recently filed against two oil field contractors in another state.

The husband of a 31-year-old contract worker filed a civil lawsuit against two contracting companies, alleging their negligence caused his wife's death. According to court documents, the woman lost her life on a construction site in the oil field on Dec. 1. Records indicate that she died after being struck by a rigging pipe.

Products liability lawsuit needs careful planning

When a North Dakotan suffers injuries that were caused by a defective product, grounds likely exist for a civil lawsuit against the manufacturer, designer, retailer or other entity in the supply chain of the item. However, navigation of a products liability lawsuit is challenging. Various aspects must be considered, and the skills of experienced legal counsel is typically necessary.

Despite the differences in details of each case, the goal of every products liability lawsuit is similar. It involves the pursuit of compensation for financial and other losses following a serious injury or death caused by a defective product. In all cases, evidence must be gathered once the services of an attorney are obtained, and the viability of the claim is assessed. The required documentation will likely include proof of purchase, original guarantee or warranty (if applicable), along with the defective product (if available).

Will electronic logging devices prevent truck accidents?

There are mixed feelings about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's newest guidelines that recently became effective. Most semi drivers in North Dakota and other states will have to use electronic logging devices (ELDs). Reportedly, the aim is to reduce the number of truck accidents nationwide.

Prior to the new regulations, the logging system was based on a paper grid system on which drivers manually recorded their hours on the road. Authorities say falsified logs were prevalent. One trucking owner who installed ELD devices in his company's trucks several years ago reports that the recording of hours, speed and location of drivers at all times has worked for his business.

Burn injuries are prevalent in the oil and gas drilling industry

The oil and gas drilling industry has inherent dangers that could be life-threatening. The rapid pace at which oil is extracted in North Dakota makes oilfield workers vulnerable. This is because companies often prioritize profits over safety -- a value system that frequently results in severe workplace injuries. Along with many other hazards, there will always be a risk of explosions and serious burn injuries to workers in this industry.

Burn injuries can also be caused by chemicals, sunlight, electricity and radiation, and smoke inhalation can damage the lungs. Burns are classified according to severity, with first-degree burns only involving damage to the skin's outer layer. Burn wounds classified as second-degree are those in which the next layer of skin is also damaged, and third-degree burns are the most severe injuries that destroy all the layers of the skin.

Job injury: EPA asked to reveal hazardous fracking chemicals

Entities across 21 U.S. states along with the District of Columbia have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a policy change in which the types of hazardous chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing industry are disclosed. Fracking sites, such as those in North Dakota, expose their employees to toxic chemical hazards that can cause occupational injuries. Frequently, emergency workers are unable to provide prompt treatment because of their inability to identify the substance that caused the job injury.

The group, known as The Partnership for Policy Integrity, along with scientists, health professionals and first responders want to know the details of 41 chemicals that they believe are used in the hydraulic fracturing process without being declared. They say the manufacturers of the toxic substances regard the ingredients and formations of their products as confidential. Furthermore, initial procedures at fracking sites are often carried out by contractors who spend a limited time at the oil well before moving on to the next one, and they are not subject to similar chemical control measures as the permanent operators of the wells.

Fracking worker dies in workplace accident after fitting fails

Fracking will always be a dangerous employment field, regardless of whether it is in North Dakota or another state. Although there are specific safety regulations to protect workers in the oil and gas industry, compliance is never guaranteed. It is still unclear whether a safety violation caused a recent fatal workplace accident on a fracking site in another state.

Authorities say the incident remains under investigation. Reportedly, a member of a fracking crew at a well suffered a severe injury during the initial phase when a fitting failed. By the time the pressure reached 2,400 pounds, the failure had occurred, sending debris flying. Two workers suffered injuries, and they were both rushed to an area hospital.

Fatal workplace accident kills father of 3-year-old son

Construction workers' jobs are varied, and the dangers workers face are not always recognized. A fatal workplace accident recently claimed the life of a 28-year-old father of a toddler. The victim was an employee of a North Dakota-based construction company but worked at the firm's facility in a neighboring state.

Reportedly, the incident occurred shortly before 5:30 p.m. on a recent Tuesday while the worker was busy replacing a truck's wiper blade. Under unknown circumstances, the man fell into the space between the truck's tire and the bumper. This was where a co-worker found him. Emergency services were called, and they transported the man to the hospital.

Product defect in Tundra truck leads to lawsuit against Toyota

Owners of Toyota Tundra pickup trucks in North Dakota may not be aware that the 2016-2017 models of their vehicles were recalled. This recall followed a product defect that could lead to personal injury. An owner of one of these trucks recently filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff claims he stepped onto the rear bumper of the truck in Sept. 2016 to reach the cargo bed. However, the bumper broke off the truck, and the man fell to the ground, causing two bone fractures -- one in his wrist and another one in his hand. The plaintiff further alleges that he took the vehicle to the dealer the following month, and although the dealer acknowledged the defect, the costs of the repairs were for the account of the plaintiff.


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