Remedies Available in Outer Continental Shelf Injury Cases
Outer Continental Shelf refers to all submerged lands, subsoil, and seabed that belong to the United States and are lying seaward and outside of the states' jurisdiction. The OCS is the part of the internationally recognized continental shelf of the United States.
What laws apply to workers injured on the OCS?
The expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling into the Gulf of Mexico led Congress to establish new laws to govern that activity, passing the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). OCSLA applies to maritime injuries suffered on structures either permanently or temporarily affixed to the Outer Continental Shelf.
For maritime workers who have sustained serious injuries while working on the Outer Continental Shelf, they are afforded serious protection under OCSLA. This federal law extends certain protections to these workers, such as the ability to obtain medical treatment and financial compensation. However, filing a claim to obtain this compensation is not always easy. In fact, many claims that are completely legitimate are often denied. For this reason, it is crucial that injured workers seek counsel from a knowledgeable offshore injury lawyer.
OCSLA applies the adjoining state's personal injury law to injuries occurring on an OCSLA situs. Notably, if OCLSA applies, the adjacent state's statute of limitations also applies. If the adjacent state is Louisiana, for example, an OCSLA claim will only have a statute of limitations of one year. While some situations related to "traditional maritime activity" allow the general maritime law's three-year statute of limitations to apply, a thorough investigation by a maritime lawyer into the detailed facts of your case must be made.
What are my remedies?
Under OCSLA, workers who are employed on offshore platforms for the purpose of exploring and developing natural resources along the Outer Continental Shelf are given protection under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). Workers who are injured while working aboard offshore platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf may also be entitled to recover benefits under state workers' compensation programs, depending on the specific state in which they live.
OCSLA provides that the injured worker shall receive benefits identical to those found under the LHWCA, and the payment of all medical expenses associated with the injury. If the worker sustains is injured or killed at the fault of a third party, a claim for damages is also available as an OCSLA "third party action". In a third party case, an injured worker's damages include pain and suffering, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, cost of medical treatment, and more.
For workers who are injured while working on the Outer Continental Shelf, one of the largest complications is determining whether better benefits can be procured under state or federal law. At Arnold & Itkin, our maritime injury lawyers are proven in trial and proud of taking a detailed team approach. Should you choose to work with us, you can rest assured that we will be able to evaluate your case to determine the best course of action. To get started with your case today, do not hesitate to request your free case evaluation.