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Personal Injury Lawyer

Offshore jobs are considered dangerous due to a variety of factors.These jobs usually involve working on oil rigs in the ocean and extracting mineral resources. There is a myriad of jobs that fall under this category, including:

  • Ballast control operators
  • Cooking staff
  • Derrickmen
  • Drillers
  • Drilling engineers
  • Electrician
  • Geologist
  • Helicopter pilots
  • Offshore installation managers
  • Production technicians
  • Pump operators
  • Welders
  • Well services supervisor

Dangerous Work

Offshore work is often physically demanding and often in extreme weather conditions. The work itself is also dangerous. All of these factors mean that the rate of injury and fatalities in offshore work accidents is high. In fact, it is estimated that the fatality rate for offshore workers is at least seven times higher than the average American worker’s risk of suffering a fatal work injury. According to statistics from the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there were 489 offshore workers killed in one four-year period.

One of the worst offshore injury disasters occurred in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven men who were working on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform were killed when the rig exploded and then sunk, resulting in the largest offshore oil spill in United States history.

Some of the most common causes of these fatalities were caused by:

  • Chemical exposures
  • Confined spaces
  • Electrocution
  • Explosions
  • Falls
  • Fires
  • Struck-by/caught-in/caught-between
  • Vehicle accidents

What Are Some of the Risk Factors?

When you think about the overall environment that offshore workers exist in, it is not surprising so many suffer injuries and death. Companies have been known to throw workers on the job without providing adequate training. One reason is that training workers cuts into production hours and that cuts into a company’s bottom line.

There is also so much activity going on, with everyone engaged in different tasks – in the middle of the ocean. Workers are also coming on and off the rig in helicopters (which presents a significant danger in itself).

The Difference Between Offshore Injury Cases and Workers’ Compensation Cases

In most occupations, if a worker suffers a job-related injury or illness, they are usually entitled to benefits under their state’s workers’ compensation laws. These laws provide benefits for the worker that covers their medical expenses and wages while they recover. If they are left permanently disabled, the worker is entitled to benefits that cover their lost future earning capacity.

But when an offshore worker is injured on the job, they pursue benefits under the Jones Act. Because the worker is injured at sea, and not in a specific state, any legal action falls under maritime law. In a Jones Act claim, the injured worker can recover financial compensation for:

  • All of their medical expenses, including any for future treatment of their injuries
  • Lost wages, both past and future if the worker is left with permanent disabilities
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Permanent disability
  • Loss of life enjoyment

If the worker dies from their injuries, then the family may be able to pursue wrongful death action under the Jones Act.