Cause of Oil Rig Explosion Revealed

On November 16, 2012, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing three rig workers, leaving two missing, and critically injuring four.  About 28 gallons of oil were spilled into the water.  There were 28 workers on the oil rig at the time of the explosion.  The explosion occurred on a rig 100 miles south of New Orleans.

The rig was owned and operated by a Houston company called Black Elk Energy.  In August of 2013, a report was released finally pinpointing the cause of the explosion, which has been shown to be unsafe welding practices.

This incident shows the critical nature of each and every job aboard an oil rig.  Given the sensitive nature of the rig, unsafely performing any task can result in serious consequences, even death.

Have you been injured in an oil rig explosion, or any other offshore accident?  If so, the offshore injury attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP can help.  Whether you are a rig worker that has been injured, or you have lost a loved one to an explosion or other serious oil rig accident, our attorneys can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve.  Contact us today.


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1,400 Tons of Molasses Spilled in Hawaiian Waters

On September 12, 2013, a pipeline in Honolulu, Hawaii leaked 233,000 gallons of molasses into the water.  The massive spill has been a catastrophe to marine wildlife in the area.  So far clean-up crews have recovered over 25,000 dead fish and other sea creatures.

Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done in the way of clean-up.  Unlike oil, molasses sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor, basically suffocating the wildlife.  However, one positive aspect of a molasses spill over an oil spill is that the ocean can resolve many of the problems on its own.  Bacteria living in the ocean can break down and absorb the molasses spill much more efficiently than it could have with oil.

Matson Navigation Company, the company responsible for the spill, may face lawsuits from surrounding businesses and others that have been severely negatively impacted by this disaster.  Matson has already promised that it will pay for all clean-up efforts, but the company still may face fines from government entities for the environmental impact of the spill.

Have you been impacted by the spill in Hawaii?  If so, contact the offshore attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP to find out if you may be eligible for compensation.

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Maritime Accidents Along Mobile River Increasing

The Mobile River is a busy place for maritime activity.  Ships are always docking, loading, and unloading, making it a popular place for those looking for employment.  However, in the past year, there have been a string of maritime accidents, bringing attention to the dire need for attention to workplace safety.

The most recent accident took place on September 7, 2013, and resulted in the death of Dustin Rogers, a dockworker working various maritime jobs along the river.  He was killed when a marine crane that was loading railroad tracks dropped one of the 3,000 pound tracks.

In April of this year, there was a huge barge explosion that seriously injured three people.  In the same month, a guard shack was blown into the water, killing one worker.

Over all, there have been 12 very serious maritime accidents, including two fatalities.  Each time, there has been an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspection.  Despite the fact that each company must follow safety regulations, it is each company’s individual responsibility to implement and enforce these regulations.

When companies do not follow safety regulations and fail to put worker safety above all other concerns, accidents become more commonplace and workers can lose their lives.  Whether you are a worker in a commercial fishing boat, a barge, a dredge, or a marine crane, the offshore accident attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP can help you hold the parties responsible for your accident accountable.  With an experienced attorney on your side, you will be more likely to recover complete compensation for your injuries.

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Recovering Compensation When Injured on an Oil Rig

Men and women that work as gas or oil workers and have been injured on a floating rig and jack-up rig are typically covered by maritime injury law, specifically the Jones Act. This also includes being injured when being transported by helicopter or boat to the rig. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 823 gas and oil extraction workers between 2003 in 2010 were killed on the job.[i]

Maritime lawyers handle a variety of cases for individuals seeking to recover compensation for disability, suffering, pain, and lost wages. This is often a result of negligence by the employer that was either a direct cause of any injury or something that contributed to it.

Offshore structures and drilling rigs create an exceedingly hostile work environment. The conditions that the gas and oil workers are expected to deal with place them in serious danger. In addition, the escalated levels of production activity along with individuals working together in a closed environment maximize both profits for the company and an increased likelihood of becoming seriously injured for the help.

The most common types of dangers on a drilling rig include:

  • Accidents involving slips and falls
  • Blocker cable breaks
  • Falling objects
  • Faulty grating
  • Negligence when operating equipment
  • Cathead slips

Based on the specifics of each offshore oil rig accident, the injured party is likely able to collect compensation through a competent maritime injury attorney in a court case involving personal injury law. In addition, those that have been injured when performing work on a fixed platform will likely be covered by other federal law including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Maritime injury law is complex, challenging to understand, and extremely complicated. Any individual that is suffered when working on a fixed rig or floating rig should seek out a competent attorney to handle their case.

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Seamen Find Protection under the Jones Act of 1920

The Jones Act of 1920, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, is a form of workers’ compensation. The specific act holds business enterprises and organizations that are typically engaged in marine commerce fully liable for the death or injuries of individuals working at sea under specific circumstances. These circumstances include negligence of the employer. It is a structure that is based on FELA (Federal Employment Liability Act)[i] law.

The Act’s Coverage

The Merchant Marine Act is a law that directly applies to any employee that works in maritime commerce. This would include individuals involved in the production or exploration of offshore energy resources. In fact, the act also directly applies to a non-traditional employee (seamen) including those that work in drilling, mapping and surveying, deep-sea diving, offshore construction, or offshore maintenance.

The Act’s Jurisdiction

Any individual that has been injured or ill and is currently seeking compensation under the Merchant Marine Act must first initiate competent legal action, usually through a maritime lawyer. The action must be located in the jurisdiction of the defendant, or in the judicial district of the principal office of the defendant. As an example, if the employee was injured at sea just off the California coast, but the employer’s headquarters are located outside of Houston, they would seek to hire a Jones Act attorney in Houston to file for restitution.

Typically, to be fully protected under the Merchant Marine Act, the individual needs to be an American citizen or a resident alien of the US during the time he or she was injured. Many individuals hire a Jones Act lawyer in Houston when they have suffered a serious illness or an injury at sea, as a way to seek recompense for their pain, suffering, injuries, recovery time and all the associated expenses.

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Hijacked Ship Sinks

Life at sea can be tough. Rugged waters, arduous work schedules and long periods away from the family all make sea duty difficult. Most sailors enjoy the life, nevertheless, because of the adventure, travel, and pay. These people, full of wanderlust, often forget the possible dangers. One crew became sadly aware of the omnipresent threat of piracy on the high seas in late 2010. On November 26, 2010, the Albedo, a ship sailing under a Malaysian registry, came under attack while sailing 900 miles off the coast of Mogadishu, Somalia. Pirates overtook the crew of 23 sailors, with the expressed intent of holding the men for ransom. The ship remained seized and in possession of pirates, in waters near Somalia, until July 7, 2013, when it sank.


The men held captive suffered through over two-and-half years of anguish. Pirates raid vessels for profit. In this case, the monetary reward was ransom, payable by the company or family. Enrich Shipping owned and operated the Albedo but refused to pay the millions of dollars required to secure its release. Paying the ransom was beyond the means of the company, officials declared on various occasions. This reality meant the families of the captives had to locate a maritime attorney to help negotiate a feasible ransom. After paying $1.2 million to the pirates, families gained the release of seven crewmembers. This July 2012 release left an estimated 15 of the crew onboard, as one person died earlier.


The final scene of this saga occurred almost a year later on July 7, 2013, when the Albedo sank after months of taking in seawater. Sources confirm the remains of four of the captives. Meanwhile, the European Union Naval Force and Maritime Patrol continues searching for survivors. The families surely want a conclusion to this whole affair. More than likely, a skillful maritime attorney will now sift through the evidence and paperwork to ascertain the culpability in these deaths. It is not certain just whose negligence contributed to this situation. This type of incident is why speaking with a maritime attorney is important.

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