Significant injury risk is part and parcel of life as an offshore worker. If you are involved in an accident while working on an oil rig, remember that you can contact a Long Beach or Los Angeles offshore injury lawyer for assistance.
Your lawyer can provide valuable assistance when you need it most. For example, offshore workers may suffer from life-changing injuries. You need a lawyer who will fight on your behalf when facing a challenge like that.
Continue with this article to learn more about your rights as an offshore worker and what a California maritime lawyer can do for you.
Are My Rights as an Offshore Worker the Same as a Seaman’s?
Both offshore workers and seamen work while out at sea. However, some factors clearly distinguish between those two professions.
First off, when you say that someone is an offshore worker, that typically means that they work on an oil rig. So they are out at sea but working on an established oil platform.
On the other hand, seamen typically work aboard different kinds of ships. Their duty may require them to work inside a particular vessel, but the ship itself is moving from one place to another.
Offshore workers and seamen also differ in terms of their legal rights.
If a seaman suffers an injury on the job, they can pursue compensation from their employer via the Jones Act. According to the Legal Information Institute, the Jones Act allows seamen to bring personal injury lawsuits against their employers.
Notably, offshore workers cannot lean on the Jones Act to obtain compensation if they receive injuries on the job. That is mainly because you do not classify offshore workers as seamen. Even so, seeking compensation for the injuries you sustained while performing your tasks as an offshore worker is possible— partner with an offshore injury attorney to claim the compensation you deserve.
What Are Some of the Major Causes of Offshore Injuries?
Oil platforms tend to be hazardous workplaces. In this section of the article, we will discuss the events that often cause offshore worker injuries so you can be more cognizant of them.
This may be surprising, but vehicle accidents are the leading cause of oil and gas industry fatalities. According to the CDC, vehicle accidents accounted for 42% of the oil and gas industry fatalities in 2017.
Many accidents occur while offshore workers go to and from the oil platform. Poor weather conditions and issues with the aircraft transporting the workers contribute significantly to those accident totals.
Over the years, many offshore workers have also succumbed to injuries they sustained from contact accidents. Contact accidents include being struck by an object or caught between heavy machinery pieces. If you sustained injuries from a contact accident, do not hesitate to seek compensation with your maritime attorney’s help.
You cannot ignore the risk of explosions on offshore oil rigs. The different elements commonly found on oil rigs turn them into combustible environments. Even one piece of heavy machinery failing can set off an explosion that injures many. Negligence may also play a role in oil rig explosions.
Exposure to Harmful Substances
Offshore workers should have ample protection against the harmful substances they must be around regularly. Those substances can cause immediate injuries as well as long-term health issues. Hold the right people accountable if you do not receive sufficient protection from those dangerous substances.
Accidental falls also happen on oil platforms. Therefore, oil companies must put in comprehensive safety features that can effectively prevent those accidental falls. That is especially important since those platforms can get slippery from oil everywhere.
What Are Examples of Offshore Worker Injuries?
Now that we know more about the accidents that tend to involve offshore workers let’s take this opportunity to discuss the injuries they commonly sustain. The common injuries offshore workers sustain are detailed below.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are fairly common for offshore workers, given the nature of their tasks. For example, many offshore workers must constantly move pieces of heavy equipment around. If they lift something incorrectly, they can pull a muscle or strain a ligament.
Offshore workers performing repetitive motions are also more susceptible to soft tissue injuries. In addition, these repetitive motion injuries can be particularly troublesome due to their long-term effects.
Falls, vehicle crashes, and contact accidents can cause broken bones. You deserve proper compensation if you suffered a broken bone from your accident. Reach out to an offshore injury lawyer and give yourself the best shot of securing that compensation.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A broken bone may not be your worst injury from a vehicle crash, fall, or contact accident. However, if your head absorbs plenty of the impact from the accident, you may develop a traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injuries can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life and render them incapable of performing tasks that previously came naturally to them. Therefore, pursuing compensation is a must if you suffered that type of injury while working on an oil platform.
Being in an explosion can leave you with severe burns. Aside from the pain they cause, burns can be difficult to live with because they cause disfigurement.
Lastly, offshore workers also must be wary of chemical inhalation. The immediate discomfort that stems from chemical inhalation is bad enough. However, this type of injury is more worrisome because of its long-term effects on an offshore worker’s health.
What Is the Harbor Workers Compensation Act?
Earlier in this article, we touched on the Jones Act and its protection for seamen injured on the job. But what if you are an offshore worker? Is there a law that allows you to obtain compensation if you received injuries while working on an oil platform?
There is indeed a law that protects offshore workers and other maritime workers, and it is officially known as the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
For those unfamiliar with the law, it allows maritime workers to secure compensation after they sustain injuries while performing tasks related to their job. This law covers offshore workers, longshore workers, harbor construction workers, shipbuilders, and numerous other professionals.
What Kind of Compensation Does the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act Provide?
You recently suffered an injury on the job and planning to file for compensation via the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. So, what kind of compensation are you entitled to receive?
For starters, injured offshore workers can expect to receive compensation for their medical expenses. They should also receive compensation for any rehabilitation services they need.
The compensation will also cover any wages lost by offshore workers because they had to take a leave of absence. In addition, travel-related expenses should also be covered.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act also requires employers to pay out survivor benefits if an offshore worker dies from the injuries they sustained on the job. These benefits will go to eligible survivors.
Do You Have to Prove Fault to Receive Compensation via the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act?
If you are an offshore worker who received injuries while performing your duties, you should not hesitate to seek compensation. Offshore workers using the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act to recoup compensation do not need to prove that their employers were negligent because this law provides no-fault coverage. As long as you can show that your injuries are work-related, you will be eligible to receive compensation.
How an Attorney Can Help and What to Expect During the Legal Process
Hiring an offshore injury attorney following your involvement in an accident is a must. In this section of the article, we will discuss the different ways your attorney can help you out of this difficult situation.
Help with Your Reporting Obligations
Reporting your injury is critical if you eventually want to put yourself in a position to receive compensation. Notably, you must report your injury within 30 days of the event.
If you suffered a serious injury like a broken leg or a concussion, you might not remember to report your injury right away. Even if you do, you may have difficulty putting the report together. Thankfully, you can put your maritime attorney in charge of reporting to ensure that it will be on time.
File Your Claim for Compensation
Reporting your injury is not the same as filing your compensation claim. This is another task that you can entrust to your attorney. Your attorney can compose the written claim and file it with the relevant agency while you are recovering at the hospital.
Evaluate and Negotiate Settlement Offers
Upon realizing that allowing their insurer to provide you compensation will cost them more, your employer may decide to approach you with a settlement offer. However, their offer may not be enough to cover the losses you already sustained from the accident. Unfortunately, you may not realize that until your attorney points it out.
Aside from evaluating the settlement offer, your attorney can also negotiate with your employer. They can put forth a counteroffer and continue negotiating to see if you can receive fair compensation that way.
Ensure You Receive Sufficient Compensation
Maritime lawyers have worked with numerous clients in the past, so they understand how bad injuries can get from oil rig accidents. Even if you think your injury is relatively minor, your lawyer may advise you to get it checked out because they suspect it is more serious than it seems. Because they told you to go to a doctor for further testing, you may receive better compensation.
What Is the Process of Receiving Compensation Following an Oil Rig Accident?
Start pursuing your claim against your employer by hiring a Long Beach or Los Angeles offshore injury lawyer. After hiring your lawyer, you need to work on filing your injury report.
Next, you should work on filing your compensation claim. You have a year from the date of your accident to complete this filing.
Once you file your claim, you must wait for the court’s response. It may take a while for the court to respond. Maintain an open line of communication with your lawyer to keep track of the latest developments.
From here, you can either negotiate a settlement with your employer or take your claim to trial. Regardless of your chosen route, your lawyer can help guide you.
Los Angeles Harbor and Port
Starting with the Port of Los Angeles, over 9 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) make their way through this harbor every year, according to GoComet. Back in 2021, the Port of Los Angeles handled a record-breaking 10.7 million TEUs, which is the most ever in its recorded history. Unsurprisingly, the Port of Los Angeles is the most active container port in the country.
Not to be outdone, the Port of Long Beach also handles its fair share of cargo. Around 90 million metric tons of cargo move through the Port of Long Beach annually. It also accounts for a quarter of all the loaded containers that pass through West Coast ports.
California Maritime Lawyer
Maritime law is not an area of strength for most lawyers. Therefore, if you are planning to pursue a case against your employer following your accident, you need to partner with a lawyer with extensive experience in this field.
Charles D. Naylor has been practicing maritime personal injury law in California for over 35 years. His expertise will prove invaluable if you are an injured offshore worker hoping to secure compensation. Contact the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor and allow us to help with your case.