Drilling rigs and other offshore structures can be hostile work environments. They present many dangers for oil and gas workers. Increased production activity has resulted in larger numbers of people working closely together as a means of maximizing profits. More people on a site significantly increases the likelihood of a serious accident occurring. Common drilling rig dangers include:
- Cable or block breaks
- Slip and fall accidents
- Faulty grating, pipe tongs
- Cathead slips
- Falling objects
- Equipment operating negligence
- Wrongful death
- Offshore explosions leading to death, burns, or other serious injuries
- Unseaworthiness claims
- Other negligence
Depending on the circumstances of an offshore rig accident, you may be able to collect compensation under federal maritime law or state personal injury law. An experienced maritime attorney will be able to help you determine what rights you have specific to the circumstances of your injury.
The four avenues of compensation:
- The Jones Act
- The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA)
- General Maritime Law
- Longshoremen & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, is a federal statute that extends the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to seamen. It enables seamen that have been injured during the course of their employment to bring a personal injury lawsuit against their employers. Under this act, the plaintiff can bring an action in federal or state court. While general maritime law does not include the right to trial by jury, the Jones Act does.
The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA) states that when an individual passes away by cause of either a wrongful act, negligence, or default that occurred while on high seas beyond three nautical miles from the shore of the United States, a civil suit may be brought against the person or vessel responsible. The action will exclusively benefit the deceased’s spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative.
If you have been injured on a fixed platform, your case is likely covered by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. This act deems fixed oil platforms an island of the contiguous state. In this event, your injury would be covered by the workers’ compensation laws of the nearest state. If the injury is caused by a third party, such as a negligent contractor or equipment manufacturer, you could also file a lawsuit against the third party.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that states that employees injured on a job that occurred on navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas, are entitled to payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services. The LHWCA also entitles dependents of the injured individual survivor benefits, if the work injury causes, or contributes to the employee’s death. Injuries also include occupational diseases, loss of hearing, and illnesses arising from employment.
Maritime injury law is complicated. It is in your best interest to seek out an experienced maritime attorney in order to receive maximum compensation for your injury. If you or someone in your family has been injured or killed in an offshore accident, please contact the Cochran Firm today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.