Hurt in Houston | Offshore Accidents

Offshore accidents are different than other accidents. State law governs most personal injury accidents. However, maritime law governs offshore accidents. If you have a maritime claim, you need an attorney who knows maritime law.

What Is Maritime Law?

Maritime law is also known as admiralty law. It is a body of laws governing private maritime business. Maritime means on the open water.

Some examples of things covered by maritime law include

  • Ships
  • Boats
  • Tugs
  • Ferries
  • Oil rigs
  • Platforms

The United States has its own Maritime Law. International rules also govern the use of the oceans and seas. Those laws are known as the Law of the Sea.

For most nations, including the U.S., maritime law is separate from other national laws. They have different rules and different courts. International law may impact some of these rules.

The U.S. participates in treaties and conventions through the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization. Those treaties and conventions influence legal rights.

Hurt in Houston | Offshore Injury Lawyer
Hurt in Houston | Offshore Injury Lawyer

What Does Maritime Law Cover?

Maritime law covers private nautical matters. It includes civil disputes and criminal offenses. Personal injury claims are civil disputes. Injuries that occur offshore, on rigs, and ships are maritime. It covers both insurance claims and civil matters between shipowners and seamen. It also covers platform and oil rig workers.

What Is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is a critical maritime law. Most lawsuits for personal injuries that occur offshore use the Jones Act. It provides seamen and sailors the right to sue employers for compensation for injuries at sea.

Not all injuries at sea are on ships. The Jones Act also covers injuries on

  • Oil Rigs
  • Natural Gas Platforms

We call those offshore injuries.

What Is the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act?

Other laws impact your injury law claim. One is the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The OCSLA defined the outer continental shelf (OCA). The OCA is all submerged lands seaward of state coastal waters under U.S. jurisdiction. Under the OCSLA, the Secretary of the Interior has authority over those lands.

The OSCLA is essential for personal injury claimants. It helped fill maritime law gaps. Other aspects of maritime law covered seamen or longshoremen. In other words, they focused on ships and boats. The OSCLA protects workers on oil rigs and platforms.

Hurt in Houston | Offshore Injury Lawyer
Hurt in Houston | Offshore Injury Lawyer

Is Working Offshore Dangerous?

Working offshore can be very dangerous.

The jobs often involve

  • Heavy equipment
  • Long working hours
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Dealing with bad weather

These working conditions can lead to a high risk of

  • Accidents
  • Injuries
  • Deaths

Working offshore is 7 times as deadly as working on the land. The high pay for offshore work is due, in part, to the risks.

Are Offshore Accidents Avoidable?

Sometimes. Many offshore accidents happen because of negligence.

Companies can take steps to improve safety. They can

  • Improve transportation to and from offshore platforms and rigs
  • Provide adequate safety training
  • Ensure compliance with safety rules
  • Properly maintain equipment
  • Provide the proper safety equipment
  • Enforce a safe shift length
  • Evacuate workers before bad weather events

When companies fail to take reasonable safety precautions, they are negligent.

What Are Common Causes of Injuries for Offshore Workers?

Almost every part of offshore work is dangerous. The biggest dangers come from

  • Transportation
  • Equipment and machinery
  • Fires
  • Electrocution
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Environmental damage

Transportation

The riskiest part of offshore work is transportation. Workers have to get back and forth to the rigs and platforms. They move workers by helicopter, boat, or ship. It often occurs in bad weather or other poor conditions.

The conditions can lead to accidents that lead to injuries and deaths. Up to 40% of offshore injuries occur during transportation.

Equipment and Machinery

Equipment and machinery are risky and cause the second most injuries and fatalities. They may malfunction. They are also inherently dangerous. Loss of the rig’s engine power also contributes to accidents.

Fires

Fire is a grave risk at sea. Ships and rigs are often difficult to escape. A fire can make getting to lifeboats and other rescue tools tricky.  Even if people escape the fire, where do they go? They can jump into the water but may not be able to survive. Plus, fire can cause burns and smoke inhalation.

It is no wonder that fires and explosions are among the leading causes of offshore fatalities.

Electrocution

Electrocution is a considerable risk. Water is a highly conductive medium. Combine the water with electricity, and things get deadly. Any exposed wiring can cause electrocution. The salt in the water corrodes material, which ups the odds of exposure.

One common cause of electrocution at sea is the extension cord. If a cord is defective or misused, it is dangerous. At sea, a faulty extension cord can mean death or injury.

Toxic Chemicals

Offshore work also leads to exposure to toxic chemicals. Even oil and natural gas can be toxic. Toxins can cause immediate harm. Long-term exposure can also lead to diseases.

Environmental Disasters

When you hear about an offshore accident in the news, it is often environmental. While these catastrophes are devastating, the news may omit the human toll. People can die or suffer injuries during these incidents.

How do these disasters happen? They are often the result of drilling accidents. Wrecks and bad weather can also cause them.

What Types of Injuries Happen Offshore?

People working offshore can experience the same injuries that people on land experience. For example, they can fall and get head injuries. However, they are also at higher risk for injuries that rarely occur onshore, like hypothermia.

Some common injuries include

  • Hypothermia
  • Drowning
  • Repetitive use
  • Back
  • Neck
  • Head
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord
  • Falls overboard
  • Shoulder
  • Lost limbs
  • Loss of hearing
  • Amputations
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Lacerations
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Broken bones
  • Rashes
  • Crushing

These injuries can be mild to severe. Some can even result in death, providing a basis for a wrongful death suit for survivors.

Famous Offshore Accidents

While minor offshore accidents occur almost daily, we rarely hear about them. An event that makes the news is often an environmental disaster.

Most people have heard of Deepwater Horizon. It was a rig in the Gulf of Mexico. When it exploded, it injured 16 and killed 11. Their bodies were never recovered. It led to a huge oil spill. People did not hear about it because of injuries to workers. Instead, they heard about it because it was the worst environmental disaster in history.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Offshore Injury Case?

At The Salazar Law Firm, we think you do.

Some cases are straightforward. Maritime claims rarely are. Most people do not understand maritime laws. We can investigate your accident to determine whether someone’s negligence was responsible for your injuries.

Negligence can be obvious but often is not. We will help you establish the proof you need to win your claim.

Ready to find out more? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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