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Business boom has drawbacks

Rising claims for commercial autos and increased workers' compensation claims are negative effects of the growing oil industry in Texas and across the nation. One representative with an insurance company that specializes in the field observed that numerous factors increase the danger as the workers travel. They might be driving on unpaved roads or work at night; in addition, they are carrying dangerous loads. All of these factors will increase the likelihood of an industrial accident.

Texas is particularly affected with more auto claims. Certain areas of the state are busier as the industry has benefited from more effective production methods. On the downside, the number of deaths has risen drastically. An energy specialist reported that vehicular deaths have escalated over the past decade just in Texas, due in part to big rigs on the road and to unincorporated areas that aren't used to handling the traffic. He further explained that lawyers are increasingly suing oil companies because of all of the money behind them, which results in large awards.

The Texas Department of Transportation also reported an escalating number of accidents and is conducting a media education campaign to fight the problem in two areas that include 85 counties. One region suffered a 7 percent increase in vehicle fatalities between 2012 and 2013 while fatalities in the other region rose 13 percent during the same time frame. Overtired drivers, distracted driving and refusing to buckle up further compound the risks.

A company could require a driver to disregard federal regulations by driving extra hours or not taking breaks. A workers' compensation lawyer can determine if a client who is injured as a result of those conditions is eligible to file a claim for benefits.

Source: Claims Journal, "Commercial Auto, Workers’ Comp Top Oil Patch Losses", Stephanie K. Jones, June 18, 2014

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