Offshore Accident Lawyer: Learn How To Choose A Perfect Lawyer

Introduction

Today we are going to discuss the importance and requirements of an Offshore Accident Lawyer. Maritime workers find employment in a variety of fields such as shipyards, marine terminals, fishing, aquaculture, seafood processing, commercial diving, and marine transportation. Working in such a category can be exciting and dangerous also.

No matter how many safety precautions are taken, accidents and injuries are common which sometimes get fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control, maritime workers face a higher risk of fatality, injury, and illness than the average American worker.

The injuries can be caused by dangerous conditions on offshore platforms, crew boats, Jack-up rigs, tankers, slips and falls, equipment failures, collisions, fires, unsafe work practices, negligence, and the ocean itself. Workers are often insufficiently trained and work long hours with few breaks, making the risk of injury even higher. 

As a result, at times of serious injury occurs in an offshore accident, it causes both emotional and financial devastation for the victim. Offshore injuries usually require costly medical care (sometimes long-term) and are covered by laws that are different from land-based workers.

So, it is always advisable to contact an offshore accident lawyer. Who experienced personal injury and maritime law to get the fastest and best recovery possible.

Reasons for Offshore Accident

Maritime industrial jobs are physically demanding and come with inherent risks far more dangerous than land-based work. So, the Injuries are common ranging from minor to horrific and even death.

Oil Rigs

Workers on oil rigs use complex equipment to drill and perform several other tasks. Many workers are not often properly trained on equipment functionality, which increases the risk of offshore accidents due to human error.

Deck Condition

The deck of an oil rig can be a chaotic environment where all workers perform different tasks altogether, and they must constantly be on high alert. Workers surround by trip hazards, fall hazards, electrical hazards, crush hazards, and pinch point hazards. Also, they can easily get injured by heavy equipment, slip on wet surfaces or fall when the sudden shakes of the vessel cause them to lose their balance.

Equipment Malfunction

Equipment failure on an offshore vessel can result in severe injuries. Workers can burn or electrocute, crush, and even lose limbs. Operating machinery on an oil rig requires a high level of caution, experience, and concentration to prevent injuries from occurring.

Fires or Explosions

Fires and explosions are some of the most deadly causes of offshore accidents. This can be caused due to improperly stored fuel, poor pipeline maintenance, or collisions between vessels. In such cases, workers may have to jump off the rig into the ocean often from a height of at least 100 feet.

Although, workers are trained in the proper way to jump. But, the stress and panic of the situation may result in severe injury or drowning. Accidents caused by fire and injury can lead to the loss of an entire vessel and the people working on it.

Other Vessel

Injuries commonly occur on tugboats and barges. These include falling overboard, handling heavy lines, etc. If helicopters are used to transport workers offshore, there’s a risk of injury from a helicopter crash also due to bad weather or any other malfunctions.

Types of Offshore Injuries

Traumatic Brain Injury

Offshore workers consistently put themselves in construction and industrial environments surrounded by heavy equipment or materials. A blow to the head due to slip, fall, or being struck by an unsecured cargo could happen in case of negligence or equipment malfunction. Thus, causes traumatic brain injury which may result in permanent and serious circumstances.

Spinal or Back Injury

Operating equipment, carrying heavy loads, and hard labor is stressful work. These require many hours of standing, lifting, or pulling. So, back or neck injury is not uncommon and can result in chronic pain, limited mobility, and even Paraplegia or Quadriplegia. Sometimes long-term disabilities associated with spinal and back injuries remain even after medical attention is administered promptly.

Slips and Falls

Injuries due to slips and falls are the most common yet serious. Accidents caused by slips and falls can result in broken bones. In some cases, slipping on the deck of a ship or platform can send you overboard, which immediately escalates into a very hazardous situation.

Loss of Hearing

In several scenarios, workers work in environments that are loud enough for a normal human being. So, workers may experience diminish in their hearing due to working in a significant loud area after some time. If hearing protection is not provided or mandated, Tinnitus or total hearing loss can develop.

Loss of Limbs

People under stress or unknowingly walk into the path of a truck, get stuck their legs in cables under tension, or get a limb crushed beneath unsteady cargo loads like coils, pipes, tires, etc. These injuries often require amputation. The loss of a limb is a life-changing injury and often requires a prosthetic.

Crushed or Broken Bones

This type of injury is also very common in case of machinery failure or when safety procedures are not followed. Offshore workers put themselves into situations like this every day. Crushing injuries can also result in internal organs damage and create life-threatening situations.

Drowning

A fall from the deck of an offshore facility can quickly escalate into a life-threatening injury, especially if a recovery attempt is not immediate. Although workers are trained for these scenarios, unfortunate can happen. Additionally, hypothermia can become an issue even in relatively warm waters.

Lung Damage

Workers can suffer serious chemical injuries when safety procedures are not followed or not enforced. Working in offshore facilities means dealing with some serious and toxic chemicals. When these chemicals are inhaled accidentally, severe long-term lung damage can occur. In some cases, exposure to high quantities of these chemicals can become immediately life-threatening. Even, smaller exposures can result in such injuries that can become chronic.

Factors that affect Offshore Accident Cases

Offshore accident cases can complicate. Factors need to consider for,

I. Who you can legally bring a claim against,
II. How workers’ compensation affects claims,
III. How much insurance coverage is available,
IV. In which jurisdiction you can bring your lawsuit.

Some factors can affect your case, especially when you are attempting to show negligence on the part of the employer, including the following,
 

Amount of Risk taken

Working offshore comprises extremely high risk. So, some steps you may be required to take there may not even permit in many other industries. But, under pressure by authority or other employees, you might attempt unsafe practices or higher risks to get the job done. These practices are often common and your employer may try to show that high-risk behavior was not needed to attempt. 

Lack of Supervision

In many cases, there is no engineering oversight to supervise to check proper safety measures on offshore facilities. Equipment, structures are assembled and work progresses by those people who learned from experience rather than official training. Works that demand a high level of skill and knowledge like drilling, high-pressure pipeline works often get disordered and accidents are bound to happen. 

Improper Training

On offshore facilities, employees often use machinery and also perform tasks that are way outside of their regular duties even without proper training. Such activities like operating Crane, forklifts, or acting as fire crew in an emergency due to lack of personnel. These reasons can put the person at risk along with all other employees. 

Lack of Sleep

The offshore worker works at least 12 hours a day for weeks and is often woken up in the middle of the night in case of unloading or emergency purposes. It happens even when night shift personnel are in position but, the extra crew is needed on deck. As time equals money, employers want employees to work as fast as they can. This fatigue causes dizziness and leaves more room for error. 

Insurance Amount

Most oil companies are self-insured up to a certain point, after that insurance companies pay out the rest on the company’s behalf. Now, the insurance companies try to adjust their part of the claim as little as possible or make sure the oil company settles the large portion of the claim so they have to pay out less or no money.  

How Offshore Accident Lawyer can help

To avoid paying damages, it is very likely that employers may deny their involvement in any injuries to their employees on an offshore facility. Even, they usually try to claim that the employee’s actions are solely responsible for the accident.

These employers may claim that the employee had the right to raise voice and stop the entire work if, they saw something unsafe or minimise working hours. Some employers even attempt to retaliate against employees who bring a suit by making it more difficult for them to find other jobs in the industry. Due to all of this, it is difficult to decide if you want to pursue a lawsuit, especially feared of getting blamed for the accident or blacklisted from the industry.

An offshore accident lawyer comes into the picture at this point. These lawyers are experienced in offshore accidents, know how to detect these tactics, and make sure that evidence doesn’t get skewed to fit the employer’s version of events. They will help to bring up the facts of your injury, round up witnesses to the offshore accident, and get statements that show your side of the story. 

Offshore accident attorneys are also intimately familiar like an offshore accident lawyer with maritime law, which was created to protect workers in the event of injuries, accidents, and illnesses but, the law only protects people who work offshore, and specific requirements must be met to recover. So, to fight against an offshore facility employer who does have strong holdings in the industry, you need a powerful companion and Offshore accident lawyers are perfect to handle these situations.

Jones Act

The Jones Act provides certain protections to workers on sea vessels which includes jack-up rigs, oil rigs that are not attached to the ocean floor such as floating oil rigs and drillships. Under the Jones Act, covered employees can recover for pain and suffering, disability, medical expenses, and lost wages.

The worker’s offshore injury lawyer must show that the damages suffered were caused by the negligence of the employer. However, unlike all other areas of law, the burden of proof under the Jones act is lower than normal. It is considered a “featherweight burden” because you must only tilt the scales of justice in your favor by a featherweight to win. This gives the injured worker and his offshore accident lawyer a major advantage.

Accidents covered by Jones Act

  1. Oil Rig Accidents,
  2. Oil Tanker Ship Accidents,
  3. Drill Ship Accidents,
  4. Cruise Ship Accidents,
  5. Riverboat Accidents,
  6. Barge Accidents,
  7. Shrimp Boat Accidents,
  8. Tug Boat Accidents.

Statute Of Limitations In Offshore Accidents

The Statute of limitations is a deadline by which your injury lawsuit/claim must be filed or you lose the right to bring it. Because offshore injuries may fall under different Federal and State laws, the statute of limitations may also vary.  You should consult an offshore injury lawyer immediately to determine your rights and limitations.

Choose an experienced Maritime or Offshore Accident Lawyer

If you are an offshore worker and got injured, do these needful immediately,

I. File an accident report with your employer,
II. get medical treatment and keep the records,
III. find a good offshore accident lawyer to help you further.
IV. Do not discuss anything about the case with anyone else except your lawyer.
V. Do not sign anything provided by the employer or do not accept any money from the employer or employer’s insurance company.

Finding the right lawyer is one of the crucial things you need to do. It will help you get the compensation to pay all your medical bills, cover lost wages, and get back on your feet after the accident. Don’t settle for a personal injury lawyer or a workers’ compensation lawyer as they are not well versed with the maritime laws. Only settle for a lawyer who specializes in maritime law and offshore injuries having specialized maritime knowledge and experience. Try to get some information about their success in the past.

Note

Many workers pay their life every year working in offshore facilities. According to statistics, 1163 people died in maritime accidents in 2017 alone. This figure accounted for drilling platforms, freighters, tankers, passenger ships, and other types of maritime accidents.

Maritime accident injuries can be extremely severe and even life-threatening. As a victim, you can get fair compensation for your maritime accident injuries but, hardly without a maritime lawyer’s help. So, if you find yourself in a maritime accident, contact a maritime accident attorney from the state you belong to and proceed.

There are so many law firms who are professional, experts to stand along your side in this kind of situation and have excellent track records of benefitting other victims in the past.

Working offshore is demanding, exciting, challenging, and very dangerous. Always push yourself to the optimum in terms of output but, never expose much to danger which can prove harmful to you. Most importantly, care and keep yourself safe as your loved ones more are always waiting for you.

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