October, 2011 | The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan

Subsurface Rights and Trespass Concerns a Frequent Issue in Texas Oil and Gas Industry

Subsurface trespassing is an all too common issue in oil and gas disputes. Everything might seem well on the surface, but part of owning property and exercising one’s rights is having the ability to exclude trespassers from invading a piece of land. This includes the surface and the subsurface. When a subsurface trespasser is draining your minerals, the result can prove extremely costly and even lead to environmental degradation. When there is a concern of a subsurface trespass, it is often critical to obtain legal representation to research property rights, titles and deeds, and agreements that govern tracts of land for use in oil and gas production.

Monetary awards may be given in regards to how a trespasser has made money from the subsurface minerals and, in some instances, how that area has declined in value due to the damage done. Remediation costs may also be taken into consideration depending on whether environmental damage has been caused.

In directional trespass cases, plaintiffs may be able to prove a bad-faith conversion of oil and gas. The value of the converted minerals or hydrocarbon may be assessed. If the defendant alleges that the conversion of oil was done in good faith – meaning that party did not know they were trespassing – some courts will deduct the cost of drilling and production and only award net value of the converted oil or gas. Sometimes the valid landowner will receive royalties rather than net profits.

Directional and horizontal trespassing is generally deemed neither necessary nor reasonable. When you have an oil and gas litigation concern, consider enlisting an experienced Texas oil and gas lawyer to help you. To learn more, contact Austin oil and gas attorney Gregory D. Jordan at (512) 419-0684.

Workers’ Comp and FMLA Issues 101 for Employers & Employees

If an employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, an employee has a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for medical bills, lost earnings, and vocational rehabilitation as needed. When a worker files a claim in good faith, that worker is protected by state laws while he or she recovers. Employees should promptly make their supervisor, human resources, and other appropriate employment contacts aware of any work-related injury issue. Promptly filing a claim will ensure it is disclosed within the proper time constraints. Individuals should almost always consult a company manual to see if it outlines the procedure to report a workplace injury.

Employers cannot retaliate, fire, or harass a worker for filing a workers’ comp claim. Employees who assist a colleague are also protected. Wrongful termination, harassment, and other forms of workplace aggression against an employee who files a worker’s compensation claim are not tolerated by the courts.

Of equal importance is the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Businesses generally must allow workers to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave when they or a family member is dealing with a serious medical condition. Workers are allowed this type of leave leading up to and after a pregnancy, and for child adoption, surgery and when care is needed by an immediate family member. Businesses of more than 50 workers are typically required to follow this guideline.

The FMLA generally entitles a worker to return to their previous or equivalent position with equal pay, benefits, terms, and status. Employers cannot retaliate against workers for going on or returning from FMLA leave. Discrimination, termination, and other forms of retaliation are strictly against FMLA laws. Some employers may not be as well versed on FMLA leave, so if there is any question or concern with an FMLA situation, employers are strongly advised to consult legal counsel on how to institute a fair FMLA policy to ensure compliance with appropriate laws.

Employees and employers should have a knowledgeable Austin employment lawyer on their side when faced with worker’s compensation or FMLA issues. To learn more, contact Austin employment attorney Gregory D. Jordan at (512) 419-0684.

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