Houston Offshore Accident Attorney
The sea can be a dangerous place. Anytime you are leaving land, you are at risk of serious injury. No one knows this better than the men and women who work every day aboard boats, barges and other vessels. Workplace injuries at sea fall under a different law than most other injuries.
By having many major ports, Houston has large populations of people who spend significant amounts of time at sea. When those people get back on land, they deserve justice for any boating injuries they have incurred due to the negligence of shipowners.
Offshore Accidents in Houston, Texas
Texas is a major state for offshore drilling for oil and gas. Texas produces the most crude oil out of all five states that do so in the country. Texas refineries produced 36% of the country’s crude oil in 2016 – three times the amount of the second-place state, North Dakota. Texas’ oil and gas industry employs thousands of workers. Unfortunately, this is a very dangerous industry that’s prone to disasters and employee injuries and deaths. The Jones Act helps offshore maritime workers financially recover for on-the-job injuries.
Why Do Texas Offshore Accidents Happen?
The oil and gas industry is inherently dangerous because of the nature of these two substances. Oil and gas are highly flammable and produce toxic fumes. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the most dangerous hazards for offshore workers in this industry are transportation accidents, getting caught between objects, explosions and fires, falls, and working in confined spaces. Offshore accidents typically happen when a person or entity is negligent in some way that compromises the safety of the task at hand. The following are examples:
• Operator negligence resulting in helicopter and water vehicle accidents.
• Defective equipment/engine failure causing transportation accidents.
• Improperly-trained workers coming into contact with heavy machinery.
• Lack of proper safety gear to prevent serious accidents and injuries.
• Uncontrolled or leaking flammable materials catching fire or exploding.
• Preventable exposure to toxic chemicals or harmful substances.
• Fall accidents from insufficient protection, carelessness, or weather conditions.
Sadly, these types of accidents are relatively common in offshore drilling. In 2016, there were 151 injuries and two deaths in national offshore incidents. There were 475 incidents total, with the majority involving lifting (155) and fires/explosions (86). Survivors of offshore accidents and loved ones of those who die may be eligible for compensation from the drilling company, equipment manufacturer, and/or other parties, partially thanks to the Jones Act.
The Importance of the Jones Act to Offshore Workers
The Jones Act, also called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 or “Maritime Law,” is a federal law that gives maritime workers the chance to secure compensation for work-related injuries. Common covered injuries are burns, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, traumatic amputation, broken bones, lacerations, and lung damage from chemical fume inhalation. Workers who suffer injuries while working on offshore drilling facilities benefit from coverage through the Jones Act.
Who Benefits from the Jones Act?
The Jones Act applies to all offshore workers. It gives injured workers the right to sue offshore ship owners, captains, and fellow crew members if any of these parties’ negligence caused the injuries or if the water vessel was unseaworthy. To qualify for benefits under the Jones Act, a maritime worker must have a “substantial” connection to the vessel in both duration and nature. A provision of the Jones Act, called “Maintenance and Cure,” is a type of workers’ compensation that provides weekly medical benefit and wages to offshore workers injured at sea.
Offshore workers who suffer injuries at sea may qualify for compensation through the Jones Act, as may the surviving family members of those who die at sea. The Act protects workers from having to pay for work-related injuries out of pocket. After an offshore drilling accident, injured parties should work with attorneys to fight for maximum compensation through all available remedies.