The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) is a federal law that extends the protections of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Longshore Act”) to oil & gas workers who work on fixed offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
If you work on the outer Continental Shelf, you can claim no-fault benefits for the following costs associated with a work-related illness or injury:
- Medical costs
- Physical therapy costs
- Vocational rehabilitation costs
- Compensation for lost wages (commonly referred to as “disability benefits”)
Since these are “no-fault” benefits, your employer is required to pay regardless of the circumstances that led to your condition. But these minimal benefits often do not make an injured person whole, and they also do not ensure that the at-fault party is held responsible.
To do that, you may need to bring “third-party” OCSLA claims against the oil company, platform operator or another contractor. At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we have extensive experience representing offshore workers against oil companies, oilfield services companies and other offshore contractors, and we will fight to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Were You Injured While Working On the Outer Continental Shelf?
With the exception of Texas, the territory of every coastal state in the U.S. extends three nautical miles off of its shore. Texas’s border extends nine nautical miles offshore. The undersea land beyond the states’ borders is known as the Outer Continental Shelf.
In order to make sure that workers on the Outer Continental Shelf could claim the same benefits as employees who work on land, Congress passed the OCSLA in 1953. The OCSLA does not provide specific benefits to workers on the Outer Continental Shelf, but rather provides that they are entitled to the benefits offered under either (i) the Longshore Act or (ii) the closest state’s workers’ compensation law. Most workers on the Outer Continental Shelf qualify for benefits under the Longshore Act.
Locations that fall under the OCSLA include artificial islands and any platforms, rigs or other facilities that are:
- Temporarily or permanently attached to the seabed;
- Erected on the outer continental shelf; or,
- On the outer continental shelf to explore, develop or transport natural resources.
As a result, crewmembers onboard ships and floating rigs are not covered by the OCSLA. However, these workers are generally eligible for compensation under the Jones Act.
Filing an OCSLA Claim
The OCSLA is a complicated statute, and the first step in filing a claim for compensation is to make sure that it applies to your situation. At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, our experienced OCSLA attorneys are skilled at evaluating offshore injury claims, and we can make sure that you are taking appropriate action to protect your legal rights. We regularly represent clients with serious offshore injuries in “third-party” claims under the OCSLA, the Longshore Act, the Jones Act, and other applicable maritime laws.