Offshore Accident Lawyer - Working offshore can be exciting, but it can also be dangerous. No matter how many safety precautions you take, accidents and injuries are common - and sometimes fatal. Offshore workers can experience devastating injuries caused by dangerous conditions on offshore platforms, crew boats, jack-up rigs, and tankers, and in the ocean itself. Workers often aren’t sufficiently trained and work long hours with few breaks, making the risk of injury even higher.
Common Causes of Offshore Accidents
Offshore and oilfield accidents are often preventable. They can happen during basket transfers, line handling, vessel collisions, and diving operations. Many accidents are the same as you’d encounter in many workplaces, such as equipment failures and slip-and-falls. But because working offshore is a more high-risk workplace environment, an injury may also result from a fire or explosion.
Offshore accidents commonly lead to head trauma, spinal injuries, severed limbs, and other serious injuries. These injuries are often specifically caused by:
Oil rig injuries: Workers on oil rigs use complex and cumbersome equipment to drill and perform other tasks. Many workers aren’t properly trained on how to use the needed equipment, which increases the risk of offshore accidents caused by human error.
Deck accidents: The deck of an oil rig can be a chaotic environment where frenzied workers must constantly be on high alert. Workers are surrounded by trip hazards, fall hazards, electrical hazards, crush hazards, and pinch point hazards. They can easily be struck by heavy equipment, slip on wet surfaces, or fall when the sudden lurch of the vessel causes them to lose their balance.
Equipment failure: When equipment on an offshore vessel fails, it can result in a number of severe injuries. Workers can be burned or electrocuted, crushed, and even lose limbs. Operating machinery on an oil rig requires a high level of caution to prevent injuries from occurring.
Fires and explosions: While not common, fires and explosions are some of the most deadly causes of offshore accidents. They can happen as the result of improperly stored fuel, poorly maintained pipelines, or collisions between vessels. When there’s a fire, workers may have to jump off the rig into the ocean - often from a height of at least 100 feet. Even though workers are typically trained in the proper way to jump, the stress of the situation may result in a jump that leads to severe injury or drowning. Accidents caused by fire and injury can lead to life-altering injuries and even the loss of an entire vessel (and the people on it).
Other vessels: Injuries also commonly occur on tugboats and barges. These include falling overboard, tow lines parting, and handling heavy lines. If helicopters are used to transport workers offshore, there’s a risk of injury from a helicopter crash.
CLAIMING COMPENSATION FOR OFFSHORE INJURIES
A serious injury offshore can be life-altering, especially if it’s classified as catastrophic. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances that contributed to them, you may be entitled to compensation for:
1. Lost earnings: A claim for lost wages can be very important for injured offshore workers and their families. If you are no longer able to work because of your injury, you can seek damages for the earnings you have lost, are losing, and will lose as a result of your injury.
2. Medical expenses: If you’ve suffered a serious injury offshore, there’s every chance your medical bills are piling up. You may be able to claim present expenses as well as anticipated future medical expenses. Claims may include costs for surgery, rehabilitation, physical therapy, mental health care, and transportation costs for receiving treatment.
3. Pain and suffering: This can be broken down into physical and mental pain and suffering: The pain of your actual physical injuries, as well as the pain and suffering from scarring, disfigurement, and ongoing complications; and the mental pain and suffering, including mental anguish, stress, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Investigating the Offshore Injury Claim
An offshore injury claim is a legal action taken by an individual who has been injured while working on an offshore oil rig, platform, or vessel. These claims are often complex and may involve multiple parties, including the individual's employer, the owner of the offshore facility, and the manufacturer of any equipment involved in the accident.
To make an offshore injury claim, the individual must typically prove that the injury was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another party. This may involve gathering evidence, such as witness statements, medical records, and documentation of the accident, and presenting it to a court or through a settlement negotiation.
The process for making an offshore injury claim will vary depending on the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred, as well as the specific circumstances of the case. It is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney who is familiar with the laws and procedures related to offshore injury claims in order to ensure that the individual's rights are protected and that they are able to obtain the compensation they are entitled to.
What Law Applies to an Offshore Accident?
The law that applies to an offshore accident will depend on the location of the accident and the nationality of the parties involved. In some cases, the law of the country where the offshore facility is located may apply, while in other cases, the law of the country where the individual is employed may apply. Additionally, international treaties and conventions, such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC), may also be relevant.
In the United States, the law that applies to offshore accidents is typically determined by the location of the accident. If the accident occurred in the waters of a state, such as the Gulf of Mexico, then state law may apply. If the accident occurred in federal waters, which are defined as being more than three nautical miles from the coast, then federal law may apply. Federal law includes the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), which regulates offshore drilling, and the Jones Act, which provides for the recovery of damages by seamen who are injured while working on a vessel.
Offshore Injury and State Personal Injury Law
If an offshore injury does not fall under specific laws such as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) or the Jones Act, it may be covered by state personal injury law. The state whose law applies is usually determined by the location of the accident. As the laws and applicable Acts vary from state to state, it is advisable to consult with an experienced offshore injury attorney to determine the available options for seeking compensation.
Statute of Limitations In Offshore Accidents
A statute of limitations is a legal deadline for filing a claim or lawsuit. The statute of limitations for an offshore accident will depend on the laws of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred, as well as the specific circumstances of the case.
In the United States, the statute of limitations for an offshore accident that occurs in federal waters, such as the Gulf of Mexico, is typically three years from the date of the accident. This deadline is established by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). However, the statute of limitations for an offshore accident that occurs in state waters, such as the coast of Texas, may be different and will depend on the laws of the state where the accident occurred.
It is important to be aware of the applicable statute of limitations and to take action as soon as possible after an offshore accident, as failing to file a claim or lawsuit within the deadline may result in the individual being unable to pursue legal remedies. It is advisable to consult with an experienced offshore injury attorney to determine the specific deadline that applies in the individual's case.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT OFFSHORE INJURY ATTORNEY
If you’ve been injured in an offshore accident, it’s critical that you have an experienced maritime or offshore injury lawyer by your side who can fight aggressively for your legal rights. Maritime attorneys are skilled litigators who understand federal and state maritime laws and international agreements, and have sound judgment when it comes to helping you win your case and getting you the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.
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