There's no denying that those who work on offshore drilling rigs have dangerous, arduous jobs. The industry is pocked by catastrophic explosions like 2010's Deepwater Horizon ignition and subsequent oil spill that killed 11 and jeopardized wildlife and countless individuals living along the Gulf Coast.
But while these type of offshore accidents typically garner a great deal of press coverage, there are countless other incidents that threaten the lives and well-being of those who work in the offshore oil industry. Because these occurrences draw far less media attention, they often go unreported.
But to those who die as a result and the loved ones they leave behind, these incidents are still significant and traumatic.
Exxon Mobil's denial of claim
Earlier this year, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. denied liability in a wrongful death claim filed by the survivor of an offshore oil worker. The 30-year-old died when he was overcome by toxic fumes inside of an oil storage tank in a western state.
The Glendive, Montana, resident died in 2010. At the time of his death, he was working for Nabors Industries, an Exxon contractor.
The spokesperson for Exxon claims that the worker's autopsy indicated that he died of natural causes. However, in the years following her partner's death, the worker's common-law spouse read a media account of another worker who died under similar circumstances. Suspecting negligence on the part of the oil giant, she filed a claim.
The oil corporation cited the autopsy results when denying the plaintiff's claim. However, the attorney for the plaintiff cited similar cases in the industry where workers succumbed to toxic fumes contained in the storage tanks the workers were inspecting.
The disposition of the case at this point is undetermined.
Grief can cloud decisions in the wake of oilfield deaths
When a loved one dies suddenly in an offshore accident, it can be difficult for survivors to cast off their grief and focus on the legal ramifications of a worker's death. But those who face similar circumstances where a breadwinner died as a result of working conditions on an oil rig or other industry site can seek civil justice by pursuing a wrongful death claim.