As the need for oil continues to rise, oil companies are pushing their offshore workers to the limit in an effort to stay ahead of the demand. The pressure on employees to work harder and faster with machinery creates conditions for a serious oil rig accident.
Offshore drilling accidents and injuries are covered under a different set of laws than those that govern land-based oil rig accidents. If injured on a certain type of rig, damages may be available under the Jones Act or general maritime law and you may be entitled to compensation and medical. Damages may also be available under the Death on the High Seas Act, or under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a Federal workers’ compensation program. These laws can be manipulated by powerful oil companies and their insurance companies in an effort to pay out the least possible amount to an injured worker.
“We will protect your rights to the fullest extent of the law; investigate your claim vigorously; our consultations are free, and representation of your Longshore/Offshore Act case will usually be at no cost to you.”
II. OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF LANDS ACT/ OFFSHORE RIG INJURIES
All workers involved in any operation conducted on the Outer Continental shelf for the purpose of exploring for, developing, removing or transporting by pipeline the natural resources, or involving rights to the natural resources of the sub-soil and seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf are covered under this Act. All compensation and benefits under this Act should be payable under the provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. Therefore, all definitions, rights, obligations and descriptions of a worker’s rights listed in the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act, apply to all offshore workers. To be qualified for coverage under the Outer Continental Shell Lands Act, your work must be performed three geographical miles from the coastline of any state. The boundary line of each state will determine the jurisdiction for the filling of any compensation claim and the laws guiding any potential third party case.
If you are working over the water or offshore within the three geographical mile boundary, you will be covered under the adjacent state worker’s compensation system.
- ATTORNEY’S FEES
Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act the attorney is paid for the work he actually performs, and he must submit his fee request to the Department of Labor for approval. His attorney’s fees will be awarded against the Employer/Carrier if the attorney is successful in pursuing your claim. An attorney is not entitled to an automatic 25% of your benefits as is dictated under the State of Texas Workers Compensation Act. It is important that you hire an attorney with experience with Offshore and Maritime injuries. Call us for “free” advice and representation on your federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act claim.
- PAIN AND SUFFERING AND THIRD PARTY CLAIMS OF OFFSHORE WORKERS
Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, an injured worker is not able to sue his/her employer for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of companionship, even if your employer’s negligence or carelessness contributed to your injury. However, you may have a claim against a third party, such as the general contractor on the rig or platform; another subcontractor; the owner/manager of the platform or rig; or any other party who is not your employer and may have been responsible for your injuries. In today’s offshore working environment, most workers are employed by a subcontractor working aboard the platform on behalf of the owner/manager. If you believe you may have a claim against a third party you should contact a lawyer for advice on how to proceed as soon as possible. It is important to determine the proper statute of limitations which would apply to your particular third party suit. Once the statute of limitation time passes, you lose all rights to sue any third party responsible for your injuries. Beware: each state sets a time limit by which you must file your third party law suit. The time limit can be as short as one year (Louisiana); so do not delay in evaluating this portion of your claim. The Law office of Dennis L. Brown specializes in these types of cases. Mr. Brown has been certified by the state of Texas in the field of Personal Injury Law since 1989, and focuses his practice on Maritime related cases.