According to a preliminary report from the Railroad Commission of Texas, the explosion occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. on January 29 at a pair of oil wells off County Road 127 near Deanville in Burleson County. Workers were upgrading a wellhead when an unexpected amount of natural gas entered the 8,500-foot-deep well and ignited.
11 workers form Chesapeake, Eagle Pressure Control, and C.C. Forbes were working on the well at the time of the explosion. One worker was pronounced dead at the scene. Three others were airlifted to hospitals in Houston and Austin.
The worker killed in the explosion was identified as 38-year-old Windell Beddingfield of Tyler in a court filing. Beddingfield was an employee of Eagle Pressure Control. His mother, Linda Milanovich, filed a request for an injunction before a state district court in Caldwell last week to preserve evidence in advance of a potential lawsuit.
One of the three workers died Thursday evening, reports indicate. Chesapeake announced the third death on Monday morning. Local media has identified the deceased worker as 25-year-old Brian Maldonado of San Diego. He reportedly suffered third-degree burns to more than 90 percent of his body, and had to undergo surgery at Dell Seton Medical Center in Austin last week.
Chesapeake Energy assumed ownership of the oil wells in a $4 billion deal last year. The company hired workers from Eagle Pressure Control and C.C. Forbes to perform maintenance and other improvements to the wells when the blowout occurred. None of Chesapeake’s employees were injured in the accident.
Maldonado’s death makes this is the deadliest oil field accident since January 2018, when an explosion at an oil rig outside Quinton, Oklahoma killed five workers. It is still unclear what caused Chesapeake’s well to ignite. State and local authorities are still investigating the incident.
Companies or businesses involved in these types of accidents are legally required to pay their injured employees compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Business owners and operators must keep up with their state’s workers’ compensation laws and provide compensation insurance to all their employees.
Employers who misclassify employees in order to pay lower workers’ compensation premiums or deduct workers’ compensation premiums from employee wages may be charged with workers’ compensation fraud. The penalties for a workers’ compensation fraud conviction can be severe and often include, fines, community service, jail time, and more. The fines a business will have to pay will depend upon the value of how much was defrauded in a specific case.
South Florida Workers’ Compensation Fraud Attorney
If you’re accused of workers’ compensation fraud, then you should hire an attorney. Contact Brian Silber, P.A. for a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced workers’ compensation fraud defense attorneys.