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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 maritime accident 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 a maritime injury attorney who understands the detailed differences between maritime law and land-based employment law. When an accident occurs at sea, international, federal, and local laws may all apply to your case, so you need a team of experienced maritime attorneys fighting for you.
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.
If you have been injured in an offshore accident, our experienced maritime lawyers are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to get started.
What Causes Offshore Injuries?
A dangerous maritime environment combined with heavy equipment and explosive chemicals creates the possibility of workplace accidents. From transportation to the workplace to dangerous conditions onsite, offshore workplaces are riddled with potential hazards. 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.
Maritime law, also referred to as admiralty law, governs activities on navigable waters. Navigable waters include any body of water capable of being used for interstate or foreign commerce. For example, a river running across state lines is a navigable water governed by maritime law, but a lake solely within a single state is not. Maritime law encompasses international, federal, and local laws.
When you are injured while working at sea, our maritime injury lawyers will evaluate two primary methods of compensation.
Maritime Common Law
Under maritime common law, a worker injured at sea is entitled to maintenance and cure. You might compare this payment to what a land-based worker receives from workers’ compensation.
Maintenance is your daily living expenses, such as room, board, food, and transportation. Cure is any necessary medical expenses associated with your injury, such as hospital and doctor bills, surgery expenses, prescriptions, medical equipment, and testing costs.
Maintenance and cure won’t provide significant compensation, but it can help. One advantage of maintenance and cure is that it is a no-fault system of compensation. It allows 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.
DEATH ON THE HIGH SEAS ACT
If the victim was working more than three nautical miles off the coast of the US and its territories, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) controls the lawsuit. Florida is unique since its territorial waters extend to the shoreward edge of the Gulfstream.
Under DOHSA, the family members of victims killed in vessel and aviation accidents that occurred on the high seas can file a claim. DOHSA does not include workers killed on drilling rigs and platforms. Instead, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act applies to those claims.
Only those who were financially dependent on the victim may seek financial damages under DOHSA. Unlike Jones Act claims, DOHSA claims are limited to financial damages only. The plaintiff will not be compensated for loss of support, mental anguish, companionship, or bereavement. Instead, the damages may include the following:
- Loss of current or anticipated financial support and contribution,
Loss of economic benefits,
Funeral expenses, and
Care of dependents.
To have a successful claim, you must prove that either the vessel owner, the employer, or a crew member was negligent and caused the victim’s death.
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 maritime injury 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.
After an offshore accident, there are many steps and moving pieces as part of filing a claim. Let us handle this for you. Our maritime injury lawyers can help you with all aspects of your claim, including:
- Completing required paperwork,
Assisting you in giving necessary statements to your employer,
Conducting an in-depth investigation into the incident,
Analyzing your employer’s investigation and findings,
Preserving evidence for your claim,
Evaluating the amount of damages you may be entitled to, and
Negotiating a fair compensation amount.
Now is the time for you to focus on your recovery. We will take care of the legal process and keep you informed of updates to your case.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE MY CLAIM?
Depending on the type of claim, you generally have three years to file. The Uniform Statute of Limitations for Maritime Torts imposes a three-year deadline and applies to following:
- Maritime torts,
Claims based on unseaworthiness of a vessel,
Jones Act claims, and
Death on the High Seas Act claims.
Maritime torts are accidents that occur on navigable waters and are substantially related to a traditional maritime activity. Claims based on unseaworthiness of a vessel are where the victim goes after the vessel’s owner for financial compensation.
For maintenance and cure claims under general maritime law, there is no applicable statute of limitations. However, courts typically apply the same three-year deadline.
There are many nuances and exceptions to the filing deadlines. You should discuss your case with a maritime accident lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your right to compensation and justice.
HOW LONG WILL MY CASE TAKE?
There is no set timeline on when a maritime injury case will be resolved. Not only is every accident different, but so is every employer, state, and occupation. A variety of factors impact the time it takes, such as the complexity of the incident, the severity of your injuries, the damages being sought, and the cooperation of all parties.
Maritime law has many procedural steps to follow at certain times, which may prolong the process. Even the court where your case is filed can have an impact, as some courts move more quickly than others.
Most maritime injury claims settle out of court. However, if you are not satisfied with the amount your employer or the insurance company offers, we may prepare your case for trial. These cases will take longer than those that settle.
Since each maritime injury claim is different, it is impossible to provide general estimates as to how much your claim is worth.
A maritime injury attorney can calculate the value of your claim after learning all of the facts and legal issues of your case.
WILL I BE FIRED FOR WORKING WITH AN ATTORNEY?
You have the right to seek legal counsel. If your employer unlawfully dismisses you, that employer will likely face serious consequences and you could be compensated for it.
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?
To protect yourself physically and financially, follow these steps.
Get necessary medical treatment
If you are seriously injured, first seek medical care. Do not return to work if your injuries inhibit your ability to perform your job.
Report the incident
Inform your employer of the accident, but don’t answer questions until you speak to an offshore injury attorney. Keep the facts accurate and report your injuries immediately to prove your injuries occurred while at the worksite.
Complete required reporting forms
Review your employer’s accident reporting policies and procedures. Once the accident report is generated, ensure that it accurately reflects what happened before signing. Do not sign anything admitting that you were at fault. Obtain a copy of the report. Do not sign anything else before speaking with a maritime injury lawyer.
Visit an independent physician
Your employer may recommend a physician to diagnose your injuries. Seek an independent physician to ensure the evaluation of your injuries is not skewed in any way. Remember to follow the physician’s orders. Failing to do so may impact your ability to financially recover.
Contact a maritime injury lawyer
Call our maritime 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.