Drilling offshore for oil or gas is physically demanding and dangerous work. Heavy equipment, adverse weather, and long hours make for hazardous work conditions. Offshore oil rig accidents occur all too often, causing injuries and deaths to workers. Many of these accidents are preventable and are caused by employer negligence. In many cases, rigs are towed into place and considered vessels in navigation, giving rights under the Jones Act and general maritime law for workers injured while employed by the ship. The Jones Act recognizes the inherent risks of working offshore and gives seamen and many offshore oil rig workers and their survivors the right to recover just damages.
Offshore platforms--no matter whether they are jack-up rigs, semi-submersible platforms, or bottom setting platforms--are massive structures often towering 100 feet or more above the water. They house heavy equipment and people who live and work on them for weeks at a time. They can be inhospitable and challenging settings in which to work, with steel cables and iron pipe swinging overhead of all of the offshore workers.
Accidents and injuries can be caused by:
Federal law requires that the U.S. Coast Guard or the Minerals Management Service prepare a report for all deaths, serious injuries, and major fires that occur on offshore platforms related to exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas. Serious injuries occur frequently in platform accidents involving cranes. Typically, riggers, roustabouts, and deck hands assisting with the crane operations are at greatest risk when accidents occur.
Accidents resulting in serious injury and death can also be caused by loss of well control resulting from a failure of equipment or an underground blowout. A blowout is suspected in the fire and explosion that led to the collapse and sinking of Transocean's Deepwater Horizon oil platform as it was drilling about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast in April 2010. Eleven crew died in that incident and three were critically injured. We at Arnold & Itkin were proud to represent nearly a third of the entire crew who was aboard.
We know that while the fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon was catastrophic, fires and explosions are a common event on offshore platforms, leading to serious, sometimes fatal injuries. It is for this reason that we are so committed to helping our clients get the legal assistance that they need.
According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, there were more than 900 fires and explosions, 1,548 injuries, and 60 fatalities related to offshore energy exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico from 2001 to 2009. Another study conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, shows that hundreds of oil platform injuries and fatalities occur each year at offshore worksites. The study combines incidents from loss of well control, fires and explosions, collisions, and spills, as well as other types of accidents in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf Region between the years 2006 and 2010.
Between 2006 and 2010, the number of reported fatalities fluctuated each year:
The number of injuries, on the other hand, decreased from 353 in 2006 to 285 in 2010. For the number of total combined incidents, the two regions experienced a decrease from 770 in 2006 to 615 in 2010.
As one of the most dangerous offshore job sites, oil rigs can be extremely hazardous--especially when the equipment used is poorly maintained or inexperienced crew members make mistakes. Unfortunately, many employers of offshore oil rigs are unable to regulate all activity that takes place on their oil rigs, including the training of their employees and the safety of some of the equipment. As such, accidents take place on the platform of offshore oil rigs that can lead to injury and wrongful death.
At Arnold & Itkin LLP, our team is extensively knowledgeable in Jones Act claims and other types of maritime law claims. Oil platform accidents can occur in multiple ways, including due to a fire or explosion, from a fall, equipment failure, or due to any other type of deck accident.
Injuries upon the platform can range from minor injuries to fatal injuries for even the most cautious and responsible seaman, including the following:
If you were injured while working at an offshore site, contact an offshore injury lawyer regarding your claim. Our law firm will be able to help you understand your rights and options at a free, no-obligation consultation.
To learn more about offshore injuries sustained on oil platforms, contact an offshore accident attorney from Arnold & Itkin LLP today. We offer a 100% free consultation!
Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.