Texas Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Wrongful Death Case Against Oilfield Drilling Contractor

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that may have important consequences for oilfield workers. A drilling contractor working at a remote location refused to put a bunkhouse on its drill site so that its crews could rest on site. Instead, the contractor paid extra wages to one of its crew to drive other crew members back to a man camp in the nearest town. While on the way, the driver fell asleep and crashed the vehicle, killing two of the crew and injuring two others.

The survivors of the dead crew members and the injured crew members sued the drilling contractor, arguing that the contractor was liable for the driver’s negligence because the transportation was provided to further the contractor’s interests and because the contractor had the right to control the driver’s conduct. The drilling contractor argued that it was not liable because it did not control what type of vehicle was used, the driver's qualifications, how many passengers were in the car, what route was taken, or whether the drillers could stop along the way. The trial court and the first-level court of appeals agreed with the drilling contractor and refused to hold the drilling company liable.

The families and the workers have appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the drilling contractor had the right to control the driver’s safety but chose not to. They also argue that the driver was paid extra to drive the crew, therefore, he was acting in the course and scope of his employment and furthering the drilling contractor's business at the time of the crash. Accordingly, they contend, the company should be liable for the driver’s negligence. It is very important to oilfield workers throughout the industry that corporations operating in the oilfield be held financially responsible for all of their profit-making activities.

Robert P. Schuster, P.C. has investigated vehicle crashes---and successfully held companies accountable---for decades. We have achieved unparalleled success in North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Illinois, and elsewhere by relying on basic, fundamental principles. Caring for and believing in our clients. Thorough investigation and preparation. Creative and strategic focus. Unrelenting hard work. If you or a family member has been injured in a vehicle crash, the lawyers and staff at Robert P. Schuster, P.C., will be happy to answer your questions and assist you in any way we can. Please call us at 1.307.732.7800---or email Bob Schuster directly at bob@bobschuster.com.

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