Offshore drilling rigs are widely used for oil drilling and exploration but working on these can also lead to serious injuries and in some cases, even fatalities. The Willis Law Firm has personal injury lawyers and can help workers (oil rig drilling platforms) and their families, who have suffered a personal injury or even death due to an offshore or crew boat accident.
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Oil Drilling Accident Injury? We Are Here to Help Workers Nationwide
Texas has a lot of industries but oil drilling happens to be one of the biggest. In this sector of the state’s economy, inshore as well as offshore workers are employed for drilling and exploration of crude petroleum as well as for completing wells. These workers are also required to operate a wide variety of equipment to bring the crude oil to the point of shipment from where it goes to a refinery. This industry is not just one of the biggest but also one of the most dangerous in Texas. Serious injuries and fatal burns are often caused by blowouts on land-based oil wells as well as offshore drilling rigs. Sometimes, serious injuries and fatalities are also the results of poorly maintained or defective equipment, pipelines, and machinery. Workers in this industry have to work at great heights and face the risk of falls, such as from derricks.
What are the Dangers of Offshore Oil Drilling?
Offshore oil drilling is dangerous as there are a huge number of things that can go wrong at any moment. Workers in this industry are typically required to be on the job for around 12 hours each day and they continuously work for a period of up to 2 weeks. Needless to say, it’s an exhausting job but other than that, there are also some other inherent dangers. Workers have to regularly handle combustible materials with huge cranes swinging overhead. In this industry, a lot of heavy equipment is used and it’s everywhere. Employers in the industry are required to keep the working conditions as safe as possible for the workers but even deck navigation can quickly go from dangerous to disastrous in no time. This is the reason, steel-toed boots and hard hats are mandatory in this industry.
Thankfully, serious oil rig accidents do not occur frequently but when such accidents happen, these are often catastrophic. Even though huge disasters are rare but even smaller accidents in this industry can be devastating for an individual. Seamen are at a higher risk of traumatic brain injuries, slip and falls as well as spinal cord injuries and other accidents. Oil companies have been fined millions of dollars due to unsafe working conditions for the workers by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While conditions have improved for the workers but working on an oil rig remains dangerous.
Typical Accidents and Injuries for Oil Drilling Workers
- Explosions triggered by the ignition of flammable liquids due to sparks flying from equipment use
- Production tank fires
- Explosions and well blowouts
- Workers struck by casing, cables or swinging pipes
- Heavy equipment or loads of cargo crushing workers
- Getting feet or hands caught in heavy machinery
- Improper maintenance leading to equipment failure
- Worker falls from unguarded heights, slippery stairways, platforms, unsecured ladders, hoists and derricks
We Fight for the Rights of Victims of Catastrophic Explosions on Oil Rigs.
Some of the biggest and most awful maritime accidents in the world have been caused by oil rig explosions which is widely regarded as the worst kind of oil rig accident. Oil rig employees have also suffered due to innumerable minor explosions. These minor explosions often do not make headlines but these blasts kill or injure many people.
One of the most unfortunate things about these minor explosions is that the maritime company responsible for the oil rig pressures the workers and families who are affected by these blasts. It is to prevent them from seeking legal help in the name of staying faithful to the business. There is also the issue of some maritime companies treating the explosion victims on-site. During on-site treatment, the diagnosis is often incorrect in order to shield the company from their responsibilities towards the employees. It is important for employees to realize that keeping mum after an oil rig explosion is not going to help their co-workers.
Companies need to be held accountable for any mishaps including the small oil explosions. If they are not held accountable, they will keep ignoring the safety standards until there is a big enough explosion that directly has an effect on their business. Get in touch with our law firm immediately to get legal help in an oil rig explosion case.
What are Jack-Up Rigs?
It’s an enormous piece of machinery that is extremely dangerous. This big mobile platform rests on the seafloor where it functions as a type of barge. It can be lowered or raised with the help of gears that are driven by electric hydraulic motors. The jack-up rigs are regularly used for offshore natural gas and oil drilling. It’s a piece of very complicated machinery and as is the case with other such huge machinery, there are certain risks involved for the workers handling it.
What are the Dangers of Jack-Up Rigs?
There are several inherent dangers. If the jack-up rig isn’t secured properly, it can capsize. Without careful maintenance, the mechanical equipment on-site can easily malfunction. There is also the risk of fire and explosion due to all kinds of electrical lines required for operating the rig. Head trauma is another common injury suffered by jack-up rig workers. In fact, head traumas often occur on a jack-up rig due to tools falling from a great height or due to a blast leading to concussions. There is also the danger of blunt force injuries caused by heavy pieces of machinery striking a worker.
Workers on a jack-up rig have to perform a number of complex operations that put them in danger. Statistics also confirm the dangerous work environment on a jack-up rig. In fact, as per the data released by the U.S. Minerals Management Service, 1548 serious injuries and 60 deaths have happened in the Gulf of Mexico during offshore oil production, in less than 10 years. More than 900 fires and explosions have also taken place during this 10 year period. Maritime employees are at a much higher risk as compared to the construction workers in the US. In fact, they are twice as likely to sustain serious injuries.
What Are Your Rights After a Jack-Up Rig Accident
Jack-up rigs are huge mobile platforms and they keep changing locations in the same general area. As per maritime law, these mobile platforms are considered maritime vessels as these move from one place to another in the seas. In legal terms, it means that various aspects of the maritime laws, as well as the Jones Act, also apply to workers on jack-up rigs. It would be extremely difficult to sue a jack-up rig employer without a jack-up rig being considered a maritime vessel.
The Jones Act allows you to file a lawsuit and get compensation for your injuries as well as maintenance and cure. Since jack-up rigs are rightly considered Jones Act vessels, the workers have the right to sue for compensation under American Law. If the injuries were caused by negligence, it is important for you to seek the help of an experienced attorney for crafting a strong claim under the Jones Act.
What is the Jones Act?
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 or the Jones Act, as it is now called, offers specific protection under the Admiralty law. This law offers protection to all US citizens (working as seaman) who suffer illness or injury due to negligence or un-seaworthiness aboard a vessel that has been operating in the navigable waters. This statute governs the maritime commerce that is carried on between US ports. There are also several key provisions in the Jones Act that are specifically beneficial for maritime employees.
It was enacted as a federal statute for encouraging American merchant marine growth. In part, the act was also created to provide relief to injured workers. It was designed to ensure that workers get proper compensation for injuries suffered when working aboard a vessel. A maritime lawsuit needs to be filed to get compensation and these days, it is popularly known as a Jones Act claim. An important distinction you need to know is that the settlement under the Jones Act is typically much greater than the claim in a workers’ compensation lawsuit. This is due to the reason that claims under the Jones Act are entitled to a much wider type of recovery as compared to claims under workers’ compensation.
The settlement under the Jones Act can provide compensation for mental anguish, medical care, cost of living during the recovery period, disfigurement, suffering, physical pain, lost wages as well as the loss of future earning capacity.
Rights of Workers Under the Jones Act
Qualifying seaman are able to file a maritime lawsuit under the Jones Act if they develop an illness or suffer an injury while working aboard or on a vessel. As a worker, you are entitled to compensation under the Jones Act for injuries suffered due to the negligence of another employee, operator or the vessel owner. This compensation claim stems from the duty of the vessel owner to provide a safe working environment. It also applies to all the equipment on the ship.
The Jones Act grants you certain rights as a seaman. These rights include:
- Working in a reasonably safe work environment.
- Ability to file a maritime lawsuit in case negligence leads to injuries.
- Get compensation for maintenance and cure due to an illness or injury suffered while working.
- Additional compensation may be granted in case the crew of the vessel is deemed un-seaworthy.
- Additional punitive damages in case maintenance and cure payment is wrongfully denied by the employer.
The family of a seaman also has the right to sue the employer for a wrongful death action under the Jones Act in case a work-related illness or injury led to the death of their loved one. Call the Willis Law Firm today to know more about your rights under the Jones Act.
How Does the Jones Act Claims Process Work?
The Jones Act, in essence, was enacted to encourage the operators and owners of vessels to maintain a safer work environment for workers and to allow the seaman to get back on their feet after suffering an injury. The operators and owners are much more likely to maintain a safe work environment if they have to make a significant payout due to accidents caused by negligent or hazardous conditions. However, you are required to have an experienced attorney by your side for the claims process under the Jones Act. A lawyer with previous experience in representing injured seaman is likely to be better versed in handling a maritime lawsuit as compared to someone who has absolutely no experience in filing claims under the Jones Act.
Jones Act Claims Process – Overview
- The worker has to report the injury to their captain or supervisor.
- An accident report is asked for by the company.
- The worker gets required medical treatment.
- The worker hires a professional attorney with experience in representing injured seamen.
- The worker has the option of filing a suit or settling the case.
There are some important things you need to know. One of the things is that you have the right to get medical care and proper medical care cannot be withheld by the employer for any reason. We have represented victims in cases where workers have been forced by employers to sign waivers and fill out accident reports before they are allowed to see a doctor. Such treatment is not only unethical but it also violates your rights.
You need to tell your employer that you do not want to fill out a form before you’re allowed to see a doctor. Your case will become much stronger if your denial doesn’t change anything. In the accident report, you will be asked who was at fault. You should ideally only say that either you’re not sure or it was the employer’s fault. If you mention that you were at fault or your negligence led to the accident, your case might end before it has even begun.
How Long Do Jones Act Lawsuits Take?
Each case is different and takes its own time. However, we will attempt to explain some of the factors that can help in shortening or lengthening the lawsuit under the Jones Act.
One of the first things is the case investigation. Investigation usually involves what exactly happened, the cause of the accident and how the accident has affected your long-term term health, and all this takes a lot of time. Evidence collection and building a case out of it also takes a great deal of time. Also, hiring expert witnesses for bolstering the presentation in front of the judge to bring light to the facts takes a lot of time.
Another factor that affects the time taken is the willingness of the other party to settle. Our experience tells us that with a strong case built by our experienced team of lawyers, the defendant is likely to settle fairly quickly, in most cases. However, there are times when our team of lawyers needs to take the case to trial before the defendant gives in and does the right thing. Many potential outcomes lie between these two extreme scenarios but it’s possible that your case may take some time. However, it’s not something you should worry about.
Get in Touch with our Offshore Oil Rig Accident Attorneys Now
Here at the Willis Law Firm, our team of experienced work injury lawyers is eager to help oil rig accident victims to get the desired financial compensation. If you are the victim of an amputation/limb loss injury, skull fracture or a burn injury that has been caused by the negligence or carelessness of another person, give us a call now and let us explain your rights.
If you have suffered any kind of serious injury when working on an oil rig, give us a call now for a completely free review. Our team of experienced lawyers will fight for your rights and legal protections and work for your best interests.