Injured While Working Offshore? Here’s Why You Need a Lawyer

Nov 4, 2020 | Oilfield Accidents, Work Accidents

In many ways, offshore oil injuries combine the dangers of fishing vessels, energy production facilities, and construction sites. So, it is not surprising that offshore oil accidents often cause catastrophic injuries.

Fishing is a surprisingly dangerous industry. Frequently, these injuries occur far from shore, and many vessels only have rudimentary emergency treatment facilities. So, by the time these victims arrive at hospitals, their conditions have usually deteriorated significantly. Energy production facilities usually feature vast amounts of highly-flammable material. The toxic fumes by themselves often cause serious injuries. And, most construction sites feature large, dangerous contraptions. Many construction site owners, like all other business owners, often cut corners when it comes to worker safety.

It takes a special kind of lawyer to take on such industries. That’s the kind of representation you’ll find at Williams Hart & Boundas. Our assertive lawyers understand how much your family needs fair compensation for serious injuries, and we feel passionately about victims’ rights. That’s a combination that’s hard to beat.

Types of Injuries
Workers at construction sites, on offshore fishing vessels, and at energy production facilities face two basic kinds of injury risks. The same thing applies to offshore oil rig injuries.

Occupational Disease
Initially, victims who suffer from illnesses related to toxic exposure and other occupational disease often show no symptoms whatsoever. Many cancers and breathing problems have latency periods which last for several years or even several decades. Furthermore, the misdiagnosis rate for such chronic diseases is alarmingly high. So, by the time symptoms appear and doctors properly identify the problem, the claims deadline has long since passed.

A variation of the discovery rule protects victims in these situations. Until victims know the true extent of their illnesses and connect these illnesses with the proper legal cause, they are under no obligation to file claims. So, even if your current condition is rooted in something that occurred on an offshore oil rig decades ago, you still might have legal options, as outlined below.

These same rules apply if a pre-existing or non-work-related condition contributed to occupational disease. Maximum compensation is usually still available in these situations.

Trauma Injury
Most offshore oil rig injuries near Houston happen suddenly and without notice. Some examples include:

  • Falls: Either a slip and fall injury or a fall from a height often causes serious injuries, like broken bones and head wounds. Frequently, these wounds never entirely heal, even after extended physical therapy.
  • Burns: This category includes both chemical burns and heat-related burns. An unintentional spill or the rig owner’s failure to properly provide goggles and other safety gear can cause a severe chemical burn. Heat-related burns often overlap with equipment failures.
  • Equipment Failure: Cranes, loaders, and other equipment is exposed to a great deal of wear and tear out in the Gulf of Mexico. In many cases, this wear and tear exceeds recommended tolerance levels. As a result, this equipment fails frequently, and serious injuries normally result.

Trauma injuries often trigger tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Additionally, these victims are usually unable to work for quite some time. Generally, compensation is available for these economic losses, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and emotional distress.

Your Legal Options
Depending on the type of offshore vessel and the extent of injury, offshore injury victims can file claims under one of several worker protection laws.

DOHSA
The Death On the High Seas Act compensates survivors of fatal offshore accidents. That incident could be a trauma injury or an occupational disease. Compensation is available if the ship owner was negligent in some way. In the above slip-and-fall example, if our hypothetical victim died, the DOHSA might not apply, because the standard of proof is higher. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and provide a definitive answer.

Jones Act
Ship owners have a legal duty to fully compensate injured seamen. These victims must prove that shipowner negligence contributed to their injuries. For example, if a worker slipped on a grease stain during a storm, the ship owner is legally responsible for the injury, even though Mother Nature had something to do with it.

Ships are floating vessels. That includes powered and unpowered vehicles. This category does not include many oil rigs which are attached to the sea floor. As outlined above, compensation usually includes money for economic and noneconomic losses. Finally, seamen are all workers who spend at least 30 percent of their time aboard a ship. The injury itself could happen miles away from shore or while the ship is docked.

LHWCA
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act takes care of workers who are injured on a fixed offshore oil rig. Essentially, LHWCA is a federally-administered workers’ compensation program. No-fault benefits are available to pay for medical bills and replace lost wages. If the accident was fatal, a lump sum is usually available, as opposed to basic wage replacement.

A lawyer is the best way to obtain fair compensation for your serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced offshore accident attorney in Houston, contact Williams Hart & Boundas. Home and hospital visits are available.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. The provision of this material does not create an attorney-client relationship between the firm and the reader and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this newsletter are not a substitute for legal counsel. Do not take action in reliance on the contents of this material without seeking the advice of counsel.

The information contained in this blog may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. Accordingly, information in this blog is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and should not be relied upon as such. Readers should conduct their own appropriate legal research.

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