Working on a ship out at sea or on an offshore oil rig can be extremely dangerous. There is a possibility of a seaman or an oil rig worker suffering from a personal injury or accidental death. There were 52 fatalities within the gas and oil subsector between 2016 and 2019 where most of the injuries would happen in the offshore context.
Read on to learn why you need to have an offshore injury lawyer by your side when your personal injury case involves maritime law.
What Is an Offshore Injury Lawyer?
An offshore injury lawyer is an attorney who specializes in maritime law. Ivey Law Firm has a number of lawyers who deal with cases that happen in an offshore setting every day. Offshore refers to on a ship or at an offshore facility (i.e., oil and gas companies drilling under the ocean).
Maritime laws might include the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Jones Act (also known as the Merchant Maritime Act of 1920) is the federal law that states that companies in the maritime commerce industry must comply with maintenance requirements for their operations and boats while protecting the rights of crew members. The Jones Act is under federal law because it is beyond a specific state’s jurisdiction.
Those who enact the Jones Act must be seamen. This means the injured party must be in the service of a vessel or fleet of vessels under common ownership while the vessel/fleet of vessels is navigating on U.S. waterways.
The Jones Act looks for negligence and unseaworthiness. This means that negligent activity caused the injury and the vessel was not properly equipped with equipment and a competent crew. Injured seamen have to prove that the employer was negligent. This means that the employer:
- Provided inadequate safety training
- Didn’t provide proper safety gear and protective clothing
- Didn’t ensure the work area was safe
- Didn’t ensure the equipment was working properly
- Wasn’t enforcing breaks
- Neglected to hang warning signs in unsafe areas
- Neglected to inspect the deck, stairs, or ladders for safe functioning
Your offshore lawyer will help you find proof for your case. They will stand by you every step of the way.
Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The Death on the High Seas Act is for the families of the individuals killed at sea due to the negligent behavior of their employer. This is for those who are ineligible for actions from the Jones Act meaning that they are not seamen. This act covers the spouses, dependents, and children of seamen who were fatally injured at least 3 nautical miles from the shoreline.
Other Maritime Laws
Not everyone who is injured offshore is a seaman on a ship. These next two laws specifically focus more on oil rig employees and longshoremen. Your lawyer can help you determine which channel you take when fighting for offshore workers’ compensation benefits.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) is a type of compensation for offshore workers needing workers’ compensation for on-the-job injuries. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is similar to the workers’ compensation benefits. It is for those who may work near/on waterways used for commercial shipping. This act assists faultless accidents and doesn’t require proving the employer’s negligence.
What Are Your Rights to Compensation?
When you suffer from an offshore injury, you are legally entitled to receive compensation while you recover. This includes medical costs and living expenses. Under the Jones Act, you can claim:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Emotional trauma
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) helps to alleviate some of the financial burdens that come with losing a loved seaman, including funeral costs and medical bills.
When Should You Hire an Offshore Lawyer?
You should hire an offshore lawyer when you are injured in an offshore accident where your employer is likely to stonewall you every step of the way. These offshore injuries include:
- Deck injuries (slip and falls, dismemberment)
- Equipment malfunction
- Explosions and fires
- Overuse (repetitive use injuries)
- Spinal cord injuries
Make sure that you do not sign anything, give a formal statement, or settle/accept any money without talking to a maritime lawyer first.
Your employer will likely want to deny responsibility for your injury. They will probably dispute your claim to protect the company’s reputation. If they can’t dispute your personal injury case, they may try to prevent you from getting another job in the industry. This is a retaliatory tactic also known as blacklisting.
An offshore lawyer will be able to help you navigate your case. They are trained to detect these retaliatory tactics and can handle the complexities of a maritime law case.
Why Do You Need an Offshore Injury Lawyer?
Not all lawyers are created equally, it’s important to find an offshore lawyer who understands maritime law.
The complexity of maritime law can be confusing, especially during or after a life-altering injury. Having a knowledgeable legal advocate on your side can improve your chances of recovering the maximum compensation amount for your damages. An offshore injury attorney can help you to figure out how to pursue legal action.
An offshore injury lawyer will be able to:
- Answer all of your questions
- Explain your legal rights and options
- Help you get the information you need to pursue legal action
- Help you protect your rights
Your personal injury lawyer has the resources that you may need to get you through this tough time.
Get the Help You Need Today
You’re not alone and you don’t have to face this battle by yourself. Ivey Law Firm can help. We are standing by to help you take legal action on your personal injury case.
Contact our offshore lawyers today to see what we can do for you.