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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