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Offshore workers often face workplace dangers. Though these employees play a key role in the US economy, they encounter risky work environments. Offshore workers are seven times more likely to be killed on the job than employees in other industries.
When a worker is injured or killed on the job, the employee and their family may struggle. On top of medical bills, the worker has likely lost the ability to earn necessary income. All the while, oil industry employers try to blame the worker for the accident and avoid paying compensation.
If this sounds like an overwhelming situation, it is. However, you don’t have to handle an offshore injury accident alone. If you were injured or you lost your loved one in an offshore accident, you need a knowledgeable attorney on your side.
You don’t want to fight the powerful oil industry on your own. An offshore injury attorney can help you understand your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. It’s important to hire an attorney who understands the detailed differences between maritime law and land-based employment law.
Maritime law is a system all its own, and you should trust your claim only to someone with plenty of experience in this field. At Grossman Attorneys at Law, we have been helping employees who experience catastrophic accidents for decades. Here, we’ll share an overview of offshore workplace injuries as well as the legal remedies available to offshore workers.
What Causes Offshore Injuries?
A dangerous maritime environment combined with heavy equipment and explosive chemicals creates the possibility of workplace accidents. Here are some of the causes of offshore injuries:
- Explosions when chemicals build up in enclosed spaces or combine with other substances,
- Fires when combustible materials ignite,
- Slip and falls on wet surfaces or unstable platforms,
- Machinery malfunctions from manufacturing defects or worker error,
- Exposure to toxic chemicals involved in oil extraction, and
- Enclosed spaces that increase the risk of injury in an accident.
While not all offshore injuries are preventable, workers often suffer the consequences of employer negligence. Your employer has the duty to provide a safe work environment, and when you face unsafe conditions, your employer could be liable for the harm you suffer.
What Injuries Do Workers Sustain?
An injured offshore worker has several legal options, depending on the specifics of the accident. Maritime injuries are governed by different laws than land-based injuries, so a traditional workers’ compensation attorney might not know how to help. However, at Grossman Attorneys at Law, we know maritime law and use our insight to fight for your maximum compensation.
When you are injured while working at sea, we’ll evaluate two primary methods of compensation.
Maritime Common Law
Under maritime common law, a worker injured at sea is entitled to maintenance and cure- payment of medical treatment and partial wages. You might compare this payment to what a land-based worker receives from workers’ compensation.
Maintenance and cure won’t provide significant compensation, but it can help you pay for medical treatment and basic living expenses. One advantage of maintenance and cure is that it is a no-fault system of compensation. Allowing for payment for injuries, and even diseases or conditions that arise while in service of the vessel. This means that even if you were responsible for your accident, you can still claim compensation.
Jones Act Lawsuit
The Jones Act is a federal law that gives maritime workers the right to sue their employers for workplace injuries. To file a lawsuit under the Jones Act, a worker must be classified as a seaman. To be classified as a seaman, a worker must meet these requirements:
- Contribute to the operation of a vessel on navigable waters, and
- Spend 30% or more of work time in the service of a vessel.
Employees such as ship crew, fishers, cooks on vessels, oil rig workers, and others may be considered seamen under the Jones Act.
Jones Act negligence
A lawsuit under the Jones Act is fault-based. This means that you must prove that your employer’s negligence caused your injury. If you were entirely responsible for your accident, you cannot sue under the Jones Act, but if your employer is even the slightest bit negligent you may still recover.. This means that a maritime lawsuit requires evidence of wrongdoing , which is not necessary to claim maintenance and cure.
Jones Act damages
However, a Jones Act claim can provide you with substantially more money. Under the Jones Act, you can recover for economic and non-economic damages, including the following:
- Medical bills,
- Rehabilitation expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future wages,
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
An offshore injury lawyer can help you calculate damages based on your financial and emotional harm. Then your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company in an effort to win you maximum compensation. If a settlement can not be reached, then a lawsuit will be filed and the decision will be left up to a jury to decide fault and then damages.
Jones Act wrongful death
If your loved one died offshore, you might bring a wrongful death lawsuit under the Jones Act. The personal representative of the victim’s estate files this action, and the proceeds of the lawsuit go to the family.
Whether you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit under the Jones Act depends on the victim’s location at the time of the accident. If the victim was working more than three nautical miles offshore, the Death on the High Seas Act controls the lawsuit. Florida is unique since its territorial waters extends to the shoreward edge of the Gulfstream. A knowledgeable offshore injury attorney can help you evaluate the offshore accident circumstances and advise you on available legal options.
What Can Grossman Attorneys at Law Do to Help?
When you experience a catastrophic offshore injury or the death of a loved one, you need the best attorneys in the business. You’ll find experienced, passionate attorneys who are committed to personalized service at Grossman Attorneys at Law. Here are some more things you should know about our law firm:
- We have successfully litigated seaman claims in state and federal courts;
- We have brought maritime law claims on behalf of Longshoreman and oil rig workers on the Outer Continental Shelf before the Department of Labor and the Office of Administrative Law Judges throughout the United States;
- We handle cases in all district offices and before administrative law judges in all jurisdictions;
- We are known for responsiveness, thoroughness, investigative and negotiating skills, and accessibility to our clients;
- We go to any location and are available at night and on the weekends;
- We have a successful record of settling claims and winning at trial;
- We focus only on injury law and insurance disputes;
- We subscribe to cutting-edge services that allow us to research potential expert witnesses and unusual medical conditions; and
- We charge no attorney fees or legal costs until we recover compensation for you.
To find out more about our law firm and how we can help you, contact us for a free consultation. We’ll discuss your situation and share legal strategies for the recovery of damages.
When we meet with offshore injury victims, we often hear these questions.
Why Do I Need an Offshore Injury Lawyer?
Maritime law differs significantly from land-based personal injury and employment law. For instance, the Jones Act allows you to sue a maritime employer while land-based employees covered by workers’ compensation can’t sue. You need an offshore injury lawyer who understands the complicated nature of maritime law.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire Grossman Attorneys at Law?
It costs you nothing to hire us. We know that times may be tough when you’re out of work, so we don’t charge anything until we win your case. Then you pay us an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement or award.
What Should I Do After a Maritime Accident?
First, get urgent medical treatment. Inform your employer of the accident, but don’t answer questions until you speak to an offshore injury attorney. Call our lawyers right away, and we’ll tell you what steps to take to improve your chances of recovering significant compensation.
Our offshore injury attorneys are experienced in the investigation and prosecution of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act claims before the Department of Labor and the Office of Administrative Law Judges throughout the United States. We handle cases in all District Offices and before ALJ’s in all jurisdictions. We are known for our responsiveness, thorough and hands-on litigation style, investigative and negotiating skills, and our accessibility to our longshoremen clients. We go wherever you need us to be. You need to hire a team of lawyers with proven results in not just settling claims, but winning at trial. We have.