Offshore workers work hard. Their days are long, the working conditions are harsh, and they have few of the creature comforts that many people take for granted. Because of the long days and harsh working conditions, offshore workers are well compensated and lead fairly comfortable lives (as long as there is work out there).
During the oil boom in 2011, the average salary of a offshore worker and other industrial personnel was nearly $100,000 a year. Currently, Petroleum Pump and System Operators earn a little more than $65,000 a year, Equipment Operators earn more than $60,000 a year, and Engineers can earn more than $130,000 a year. But just as working offshore as a seaman or an engineer can be profitable, it is also very, very dangerous.
Often times, workers blame themselves for getting hurt on the job. But it’s not always their fault. And even if a worker bears some responsibility for getting hurt, that does not mean someone else did not contribute.
Offshore workers face on-the-job hazards every single day they show up to work
Offshore workers face hazards every day they go to work. Slippery decks, heavy equipment, casual maintenance, ineffective or absent training practices create the perfect environment for serious head injuries—a powder keg ready to explode.
And when that powder keg does explode, sometimes a hardworking, tough person finds themselves life flighted to a hospital and diagnosed with a traumatic brain or head injury. Traumatic brain and head injuries are some of the most horrific injuries a seaman can suffer. These types of injuries happen often in the offshore industry. Too often. And while some accidents cannot be avoided, many others would have never happened if corners weren’t cut and workers were provided with proper safety equipment and training.
Two types of head injuries – open and closed
An open head injury is when something hits the head with enough force to penetrate the skull. Open head injuries can be terrifying to witness because they are incredibly bloody and life-threatening. A closed head injury is when the brain is injured because of a blow to the head, or a sudden, violent motion that causes the brain to bang against the skull. Even though an open head injury sounds worse, the risks of a closed one are bigger because it is harder to diagnose.
Causes and complications of offshore head injuries
Experience tells us that traumatic brain injuries and head injuries tend to happen when companies take shortcuts to maximize profits. Most debilitating or fatal traumatic brain injuries and head injuries are a result of operator error, mechanical failures, improper training to workers, a complete lack of safety training, and fatigue caused by employees being overworked.
Other reasons include:
- An employer rushing the work
- Objects/chemicals not being properly stored
- Lack of slip and skid protectant which can lead to a slip and head injury
- Other unsafe work practices
- Outdated machinery
- Lack of proper machinery
- Outdated equipment
- Lack of equipment
The Jones Act helps offshore workers who have been injured
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, allows seamen negligently injured during the scope of their employment to receive compensation. Notably, compensation does not solely refer to lost wages. The Jones Act allows seamen to receive compensation for their medical bills, expenses related to the injury, lost present and future earnings, pain and suffering, and other similar losses.
To qualify for compensation under the Jones Act, the maritime worker must be a seaman. The term seaman is defined in the Jones Act and has been interpreted by the courts. Unfortunately, it isn’t always simple to find out if a maritime worker is a seaman. Really, it is an extremely fact intensive question. However, our offshore injury attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard LLP are here to figure out if you are a seaman and investigate any and all claims to which you may be entitled.
Our Jones Act lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP assist injured seamen and offshore workers nationwide. We provide free consultations, and we only get paid when our clients win. Call us now at 800-489-2216 or send us a message for a free, confidential consultation to learn more.