Employees of oil rigs often face many hazardous conditions due to the nature of their work. Employees should seek the advice of an oil rig explosion attorney to help guide them through the potentially complicated process of recovering from their employer or another negligent party. With the aid of an attorney, injured parties may be able to recover awards for damages like medical expenses, wages lost due to the injury and other forms of compensation.
After being injured in an oil rig explosion, the injured employee should seek medical treatment. Employees should also receive treatment and ensure the doctor records, in detail, the injuries and surrounding circumstances for future reference. It is likely this information may be valuable to the attorney representing the case.
Oil rig employees should also immediately report the incident and any injuries suffered as many laws require notice of injury to the employer within a certain number of days.
There are many potential laws under which an injured oil rig employee, or seafarer, can recover under maritime law. A seafarer is considered a “ward of admiralty” due to the seafarer’s particular vulnerability to the perils of the sea and foreign travel. Below are a couple laws under which seafarers may recover.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act creates a negligence or wrongful death action in favor of the personal representative of a seaman killed in the course of employment. The Act provides a remedy against a seaman’s employer when he is injured or killed through the negligence of the employer. The Jones Act does not distinguish between deaths occurring in state territorial waters versus those occurring on the high seas.
This would require showing an employee’s status as a seaman as well as establishing the employer’s negligence. To be considered a seaman:
(1) An employee’s duties must contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission [and] (2) A seaman must have a connection to a vessel in navigation (or to an identifiable group of such vessels) that is substantial in…both its duration and its nature. The Fifth Circuit’s rule of thumb is that a maritime worker who spends less than 30% of his time working on a vessel does not qualify as a Jones Act seaman.
After establishing the employee’s status as a seaman, the injured employee must show the employer was negligent. According to the Federal Bar Association, the Jones Act has a “relaxed,” “featherweight,” or “slightest” causation standard under which a seafarer only needs to prove that an employer’s negligence played any role, “no matter how small,” in causing the seafarer’s injury.
In other words, if the employee spent more than 30% of his time working on a vessel and shows some evidence that the employer’s negligence played some role in causing the injuries, then the employee may recover under the Jones Act.
Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act has procedures and benefits much like workers’ compensation. Like seafarer definition above, the definition and type of worker is relevant in determining which laws apply. According to the Federal Bar Association, “Longshore and harbor workers are individuals who are not seafarers but who are nevertheless employed to work around vessels, such as loading and repairing them.” This includes industrial injuries that occur on land. In other words, this act may apply even if you do not spend 30% or more of your time on an offshore vessel.
As stated above, reporting an employee’s injuries is a very important step in recovering from an employer. Under this Act, an employee must give notice of a claim under the Act within thirty (30) days of sustaining an injury or become aware/should have become aware that the injury is related to his or her employment.
Each law has specific requirements that must be met in order for an employee After suffering from an injury of any degree, rig workers can and should contact an attorney familiar with oil rig accidents to help navigate the requirements under the law and see if there is a viable claim for recovery.
Contact our Oil Rig Explosion Lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an oil rig explosion accident, our oil rig explosion lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP can help. Please contact us for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights before they are jeopardized by a corporation, employer, or insurance company.