Working on an offshore oil rig can be lucrative, but it can also be dangerous. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, marine oil work has one of the highest rates of fatal accidents in the nation, with 37.6 deaths per 100,000 workers.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you need help with your medical bills and you also need income while you are unable to work. These can be crucial for injured workers in any industry, but for offshore oil rig workers, there are some additional legal complications. First, you must know what laws may apply to your situation. In this blog post, we’ll briefly look at some of the options.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law that covers many aspects of navigation and marine work. Among many other things, it provides a system under which seamen who are injured on the job are covered for past and future medical care related to the injury, lost wages while they are unable to return to work and, in some cases, compensation for their pain and suffering.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
While the Jones Act covers crewmembers of vessels, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or LHWCA, covers many others in the maritime industries. Originally, the LHWCA covered longshore workers, harbor construction workers, shipbuilders and other workers in maritime occupations. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act extends LHWCA coverage to some workers on offshore oil rigs whose jobs were not originally covered.
The LHWCA pays for an injured employee’s medical expenses and can provide income for employees who are unable to return to work.
Most Louisiana workers are covered under the state’s workers’ compensation system. There is also a federal workers’ compensation system that covers federal employees.
Under the Louisiana workers’ compensation system, employers must carry insurance for their employees. This insurance pays for the medical care of employees who have been injured on the job or who have work-related illnesses. It can also provide income for employees while they recover.
Note that there is a federal agency called the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs that oversees claims under the LHWCA and extensions such as the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as well as certain federal workers’ compensation programs.
Personal injury claims
Each of these categories has its own procedures and rules. Under most workers’ compensation systems, an injured employee doesn’t have to prove that their employer caused their injuries through negligence. However, if you have collected workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury, in most circumstances you will barred from also filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer involving the same injury, even if it turns out that your employer’s negligence did contribute to the accident in which you were hurt.
That said, you are not barred from filing a lawsuit against a third party who was responsible for your accident. For example, you might pursue a personal injury claim against another employer at your job site if their negligence contributed to the accident.
Pursuing a personal injury claim can be riskier than pursuing benefits through other programs. However, it can lead to a greater recovery in some situations.