Houston offshore workers provide vital labor to the US economy. The oil and gas industry enables the American way of life—from transportation to heating homes to producing plastic toys. Yet this important work can come at the cost of offshore workers’ safety.
In 2018, one offshore worker was killed and 171 were injured on the job. These unfortunate statistics reflect working conditions that included 77 fires, three explosions, 19 spills, and six collisions in 2018. Negligence in the offshore environment injures and kills hard-working employees each year.
If you were injured in offshore work, you deserve compensation. Offshore injury lawsuits fall under maritime law, which differs significantly from laws governing land-based personal injuries. To seek maximum compensation for your injury, you must retain an experienced Houston offshore injury attorney. Call the Houston offshore injury lawyers at the Johns Law Firm to set up a free consultation on your offshore injury claim. If you would like to learn more about filing an offshore injury lawsuit, keep reading.
What Qualifies as an Offshore Injury?
An offshore injury occurs in various places on the US coast, in navigable waterways, or on the high sea. Victims might experience injuries or death on oil rigs, ships, harbors, docks, or other maritime vessels. Maritime workers can sustain injuries from improperly maintained equipment, supervisor error, reckless behavior, intentional actions, and dangerous weather conditions.
Maritime workers may experience these offshore injuries:
- Head injuries,
- Broken bones,
- Back injuries,
- Severed limbs, and
When you are injured on the job, you may receive payment for your medical bills and living expenses under maritime common law. However, a personal injury lawsuit allows you to recover much more, such as damages for pain and suffering and lost wages.
Types of Offshore Injury Cases
Depending on the role of the victim and where the accident took place, different maritime laws apply. An experienced maritime attorney at the Johns Law Firm can evaluate your case and determine what laws allow you to pursue maximum compensation for your offshore injury. The following laws may cover your maritime injury.
The Jones Act
Semi-submersible platforms are commonly used in the offshore oil and gas industry. These installations include mobile offshore drilling units, semi-submersible crane vessels, offshore support vessels, and offshore production platforms. Workers on these platforms may qualify as Jones Act seamen because the platforms are capable of navigation and the workers perform services in furtherance of the vessel’s mission.
The Jones Act is unlike most workers’ compensation systems. It permits seamen injured on the job to sue their employer for damages including lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. To recover damages, the injured worker needs to establish that his employer acted negligently.
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides compensation for injured maritime workers who work on docks, piers, wharves, and shipyards. Maritime workers covered by this Act include longshoremen, shipbuilders, and harbor workers.
The LHWCA allows workers to recover the following injury compensation, regardless of fault:
- Offshore injury medical treatment,
- Rehabilitation expenses, and
- Two-thirds of the employee’s weekly wage.
Even if the harbor worker caused the accident that led to the injury, the worker can still receive compensation. If the worker is killed, a surviving spouse and children can receive a wrongful death benefit. The Act sets the spouse’s wrongful death benefit at half of the worker’s average wage, with 16% added for the worker’s children.
The Act also contains a provision, in section 905(b), that allows an injured worker to sue a negligent employer or third party for full compensation. By filing a lawsuit, the worker can attempt to obtain additional damages such as pain and suffering. However, a 905(b) claim requires the worker to prove the employer or third party was at fault.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) applies to “all submerged lands lying seaward of State coastal waters (3 miles offshore) which are under U.S. jurisdiction.” The Act covers workers on the Outer Continental Shelf, including:
- Oil rig workers,
- Longshoremen on floating docks,
- Harbor workers,
- Ship repairers, and
- Workers manufacturing or servicing offshore wind energy turbines.
OCSLA extends the protections of the LHWCA to offshore workers on the Outer Continental Shelf not covered by the Jones Act. Under the OCSLA workers may receive payment for:
- Offshore injury medical treatment,
- Rehabilitation expenses, and
- Disability payments.
Family members of a worker killed while working on the Outer Continental Shelf can receive a wrongful death benefit. The OCSLA also provides an opportunity for a third-party lawsuit against a defendant who is not an employer or coworker.
Death on the High Seas Act
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) applies “when the death of an individual is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas beyond three nautical miles from shore of the United States.” The Act allows a personal representative of the deceased to file a lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative.
DOHSA limits compensation to pecuniary damages, including:
- Loss of support,
- Loss of services,
- Loss of inheritance, and
- Funeral expenses.
DOHSA does not allow family members to recover expenses such as pain and suffering, loss of care, and loss of companionship. An exception allowing additional recovery applies to commercial aviation accidents beyond 12 miles from shore.
DOHSA provides extremely limited remedies. Therefore, if your loved one sustains potentially fatal injuries more than three miles offshore, you must urgently take legal action. File a lawsuit immediately—while your loved one is alive—to maximize your ability to recover damages.
How Can a Houston Offshore Injury Lawyer Help?
Have you or a loved one been injured while working offshore? If so, you must speak to a skilled Houston offshore injury attorney. Maritime law is complex, involving different laws depending on the victim’s role and the location of the accident. Lawyers who handle land-based personal injury or wrongful death claims may not have the expertise needed for a maritime law claim.
The Johns Law Firm helps injured maritime workers and ship passengers. Our Houston offshore injury attorneys have maritime law degrees, and we bring the knowledge and skill necessary for these complicated injury claims. With offices throughout the Gulf South, we understand the offshore work environment and the dangers it presents.
Our Houston offshore injury lawyers spent years representing offshore employers and insurance companies. This strategic advantage provides us with insight into the tactics the defense will likely use against you. We counter their tactics as we advocate for your maximum settlement. Call our accident lawyers for a free consultation, where we can discuss your accident and advise you of legal options. If you choose us to represent you, we’ll advocate for your maximum workplace injury or wrongful death settlement. We work on contingency, meaning that you owe us no payment until we win your case. Contact us today to start your offshore injury claim.