In 2010, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform killed eleven workers, injured seventeen more, and dumped five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next three months. While this catastrophe helped to publicize the perils of deep-sea oil and gas drilling, the fact is that oil platforms have always been dangerous places to work, even if most accidents, including fatal ones, never make it into the local newspaper.
The reason the general public never hears about most oil platform accidents is a classic case of “out of sight, out of mind” — most drilling platforms are located miles offshore, and only the companies that operate them, and the people who work on them, are even aware of their existence.
While oil-platform workers tend to be well-compensated, compared to their associates on the mainland they still have it rough. Workers have to commit to six-month stretches of living in complete isolation, and are often called upon to work 12-hour or longer shifts in order to meet deadlines or production quotas.
It’s rare for an oil or gas platform to simply explode, as happened to the Deepwater Horizon. More often, platform workers are injured in less dramatic fashion: exposure to toxic chemicals, poorly maintained machinery, or the negligence of their fellow workers, are just three examples. The tension of living for months at a time on a remote oil platform can also result in assaults or fistfights; sometimes the injuries sustained in these brawls are severe enough that the injured parties have to be taken back to the mainland for medical treatment.
As the Deepwater Horizon demonstrated, oil platform accidents can be followed by months of obfuscation on the part of oil companies, as well as the owner of the platform. The rights of workers employed on platforms operating in U.S. waters are preserved by the Jones Act (officially called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920), an extension of mainland disability laws to sailors, fishermen and other marine workers.
If you have been injured in an oil platform accident—or if your loved one has been killed—the Jones Act entitles you to recover damages from the responsible parties; at the very least, you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills and time away from work. In cases of gross negligence or recklessness, of course, the settlement can be much more substantial.
If you have been injured in a maritime accident, whether your case falls under maritime law or civil law, our lawyers can help. If you lost a loved one in a fatal maritime accident our attorneys can help you get civil justice and compensation to help you recover from your loss.
Call today, or email us, to arrange for a free initial legal consultation to learn more about your rights and the best approach in taking legal action against any parties who can be held accountable for your loss.
Law Offices of Preston Easley
2500 Via Cabrillo Marina
San Pedro, California 90731