• February 01, 2017

William Elton Williams Killed in Saratoga, TX, Oil Well Accident

Saratoga, TX -- January 31, 2017, William Elton Williams was killed following an accident where he somehow fell from an oil well.

Authorities from the Hardin County Sheriff's Department responded to the fatal accident scene at an oil well site off of Rosier Park Road.

At around 10:30 p.m., 58-year-old Williams, a Slatex Well Services employee, was working on an oil rig at the time. For reasons that have yet to be determined, he fell from the machinery to the ground below.

It's unclear exactly how far he fell, but he sustained fatal injuries in the accident. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities at this time continue to investigate the fatal incident. They have not released any additional details at this time.

Map of the Area


When it comes to deaths resulting from work accidents in Texas, the compensation process can be very complex for those not experienced with the subject. If the employer involved in the accident is a subscriber to workers' comp, then workers' comp is the sole remedy for compensation in most instances. The problem with workers' compensation is that it guarantees that the injured person will lose money, since the benefits never add up to what the worker was making for the injury. However, if an accident is egregious enough, the Texas Constitution provides a remedy. It is a constitutional right of every Texan to be able to sue someone for gross negligence.

Texas Legislature defines gross negligence as:

an act or omission:

  1. which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and
  2. of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.

Rather than trying to explain what gross negligence means in layman's terms, why don't I tell you about a case my firm handled a few years ago. A worker was killed after an incident where he fell roughly 60 feet from a cherry picker. When investigators got there, the worker was wearing a safety harness, and all the details surrounding the event just made it seem like a tragic accident. A lot of investigations would just end there, saying something along the lines of, "The guy had the proper safety equipment. Maybe he just wasn't using it properly and fell." However, our independent investigations revealed a much more disturbing chain of events. Here's what actually happened.

The victim actually did not have a safety harness at the time of the accident. Down below, the victim's supervisor and a co-worker suddenly got into a fight over something or another. In their struggle, they hit something on the machine that caused the bucket to tip over, dumping the worker out of the bucket and down to the pavement below. Seeing this happen, did the two workers call for help? Eventually, yes. But not before they left their co-worker, who was struggling for life on the ground, to go buy a safety harness. With the new safety harness in hand, they returned to find their co-worker had died of his injuries. They then put the safety harness on his body and waited for authorities to arrive.

When our investigations uncovered this, I was speechless. Hearing about someone engaging in such negligent and selfish behavior really just makes your jaw drop. If someone's negligent actions causes that kind of reaction, then chances are that meets the requirements of gross negligence. These are actions and decisions that show a blatant disregard for other people's safety, and Texas Law has found it necessary to hold these people accountable for their reckless and dangerous behavior.

I'm not saying that actions like this led to Mr. Williams's death. The simple fact of the matter is that the details surrounding this accident are very scant, and it'd be irresponsible to go throwing around accusations without knowing all of the details. Only after a thorough, independent investigation is finished can anyone be sure of the exact events leading to the victim's death. If it so happens that the death resulted from grossly negligent actions, then those responsible must be held accountable.

--Grossman Law Offices


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