Jack-Up Rig Accident Lawyers
Representing Jack-Up Rig Crews & Families
Jack-up rigs, alongside other offshore platforms such as semi-submersibles, present a high-risk environment for workers due to potential fires, explosions, and equipment malfunctions. The dynamic nature of offshore operations, with hazards like swinging cables and pipes, increases the likelihood of severe injuries or fatalities. If you or someone close to you has suffered injuries on a jack-up rig, it's important to know that you may be entitled to compensation under maritime law.
At Arnold & Itkin, we understand how overwhelming and challenging this time can be.
Call us now at (888) 346-5024 for a free review of your jack-up rig accident case.
Are Jack-Up Rigs Safe?
Jack-up rigs are a particular kind of oil rig that can be moved into place and held via legs extended to the sea floor. They are employed at sea level depths ranging from 50 to 300 feet deep. There are two main types of jack-up rigs in use: mobile offshore drilling units (MODU) and turbine installation vessels, used to install offshore wind turbines. As of December 2019, there were 355 jack-up rigs under contract worldwide.
The complex machinery used to keep jack-up rigs stable must be closely monitored and maintained to prevent disasters. If the rig is not stabilized, it may shift on the water and cause equipment to fall, severely injuring workers. An unstable jack-up rig may also capsize, putting everyone on board at risk. In some cases, rigs have collapsed or exploded.
In July 2013, a jack-up rig operated by Hercules Offshore caught fire and exploded about 55 miles off the coast of Louisiana after the rig's blowout preventer failed. Fortunately, all of the crew members were safely evacuated, but the collapse of the natural gas rig warranted a further examination of safety procedures.
Advances in machinery used to keep rigs stable include several systems for controlling the platform's leg movements, including electronic control via motors with soft starters, variable speed drives (VSDs), and hydraulic-operated lifts. Many manufacturers are pushing VSDs as the safest, most efficient way to control the oil platform's movements.
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations lists guidelines for the movements and installation of jack-up rigs. Many other countries have followed suit in regulating these rigs, some even placing more stringent guidelines on the operation of the platforms. The stricter guidelines can include a requirement that all production and wells be stopped unless the platform is fully stabilized on the sea floor. Despite troubling events that call into question the safety of jack-up rigs, continuous advancements in technology are helping to make them more stable. As with any oil rig, constant vigilance and maintenance are needed to ensure a safe rig, and any lapse in safety measures could lead to disaster.
Have You Been Injured on a Jack-Up Rig?
In less than a 10-year period, there have been more than 900 fires and explosions, 60 fatalities, and 1,548 injuries related to offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if employers and operators had paid more attention to safety procedures and the protection of their workers.
Jack-up rig accidents and injuries can be caused by a range of different issues such as:
- Equipment failures
- Loss of well control
- Slip and falls
- Rig collapses
- Adverse weather
If you have been injured aboard a jack-up rig through the negligence of your employer or a third party, you may be entitled to compensation for lost past and future wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, future medical expenses, and other costs. Many accidents are caused by a lack of emphasis on proper safety precautions, training, and other measures, placing workers in dangerous and perilous work conditions.
The Threat of Accidents on Jack-Up Rigs
When working at an offshore location, the environment is continuously changing and can become life-threatening in a matter of moments. Any aspect of a jack-up rig, from its legs on the ocean floor to the cranes high overhead, can malfunction when improperly maintained and cause serious injury to workers.
If you have been injured due to defective equipment on a jack-up rig, our firm is here to help.
As one of the most dangerous offshore incidents, jack-up rig accidents can become fatal if the proper safety response is not taken immediately. These types of mobile offshore oil platforms are held in place above the sea by legs that are stabilized by the ocean floor. Virtually any type of accident can occur to a worker on this type of rig, including a fall from a great height after the failure of a safety harness or a crushing injury from a falling object. The good news is that Arnold & Itkin is committed to protecting victims of these accidents.
Your Rights After a Jack-Up Rig Accident
In most cases, jack-up rigs and floating oil platforms are considered vessels in navigation, which means they give injured workers certain rights under the Jones Act and general maritime law. Since these platforms and rigs are often moving from location to location, they are essentially viewed as vessels.
This means that you can file certain claims that you may not have been able to file if the jack-up rig wasn’t deemed a vessel. For example, you may be able to recover maintenance and cure, injury compensation, and much more. If negligence was involved, you will need the help of a seasoned jack-up rig accident attorney to craft a strong case.
The Jones Act & Jack-Up Rig Injuries
The Jones Act was created in 1920 to protect injured seamen and compensate for their suffering. In order for this act to apply to a jack-up rig accident, it would depend on whether the jack-up rig was a fixed oil platform or a mobile rig. In the past, the Jones Act only included ships such as tugboats, barges, and fishing vessels, but it has evolved to include semi-submersible and jack-up rigs. As such, jack-up rig crews are typically considered seamen.
To be considered a seaman who is protected under the Jones Act, you must pass a three-part test.
- You must spend at least 30% of your time working on a vessel or fleet of vessels.
- The vessel must be operating on a navigable waterway.
- Your duties must directly further the ship's mission or function.
Unlike basic workers' compensation claims, filing a claim under the Jones Act requires the victim to prove that the employer exhibited negligence or did not maintain a seaworthy vessel. An employer is required to give seamen a safe place to work and exercise reasonable caution when maintaining the overall quality of the ship. If they fail to do so and an injury results, a Jones Act claim may be brought forward.
A crew member who has been injured on a jack-up rig may be eligible to recover damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. However, it can be difficult to prove that the injuries were a consequence of negligence, particularly if the work environment holds a certain level of risk. This is one of many reasons to involve a lawyer who has experience with jack-up rig cases.
It is important to note that many employers are reluctant to give victims the compensation they need and insurance companies often try to force victims into accepting a minimum settlement. Our firm knows how challenging this time can be, which is why we're here to offer support every step of the way. Our jack-up rig accident lawyers can take care of the details and allow you the time you need to fully recover.
What to Do After Your Accident: Call (888) 346-5024
Attempting to rebuild after a jack-up rig accident can seem impossible. Your employer may try to force you to return to work before you’re ready, or you may feel pressured to accept far less of a settlement than will actually cover your medical treatment and other losses. With Arnold & Itkin by your side, you can rest assured that we will fight with all of our experience, strength, and resources to seek a life-changing result for you and your family.