Offshore Accident Attorney

Offshore Accidents

Louisiana Offshore Injury Lawyer

The oil and gas refinery business in Louisiana boasts some of the highest paid jobs in the region during hiring seasons. It’s no wonder these jobs are sought after by entry level and skilled offshore workers. The work carries the reputation of leading to increased earnings over time, as the liquefied natural gas industry continues to flourish, thanks to Louisiana’s ample natural reserves.

Along with good pay and a stable source of income, the Louisiana offshore drilling market unfortunately also holds many threats to worker safety. The dangerous conditions relate to the work itself—gathering methane gas in remote areas not serviced by pipelines—but drilling companies must always adhere to safety measures. While it’s true that no drilling company has ever intentionally created an offshore accident, the dangerous nature of the work makes any safety lapses potentially fatal.

Companies must constantly remain vigilant for dangerous conditions. The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (LMOGA) claims that refinery safety remains at an all-time high. “In 2010, the rate of job-related nonfatal injuries and illnesses for refinery workers was 0.7 per 100 full-time workers, compared to a rate of 4.0 for the US manufacturing sector and 3.6 for all industries and government combined.” These numbers support claims of refinery workplace safety. However, the CDC reports starkly different numbers from 2003-2010 for the drilling industry. The CDC states that between those years, the onshore and offshore drilling industry had a “collective fatality rate seven times higher than for all U.S. workers.” These fatalities illustrate that any lapse in drilling safety can create catastrophic injuries for workers. These fatalities decimate the families of those workers.

Recommended practices by industry professionals, along with federal and state mandates for safety, force the industry to maintain high standards. Some of the LMOGA recommended practices involve the “Process Safety Performance Indicators” to help offshore workers predict dangerous conditions. Other industry recommended practices involve managing the risks of worker fatigue under dangerous conditions. Offshore accidents rarely cause minor injuries. Offshore accidents in Louisiana leave deep and permanent injuries, or worse—fatalities. Tightening safety measures not only makes good business sense, it makes sense ethically as well.

Risks of Offshore Work

The industry’s leading trade association points out the economic benefits of the Louisiana offshore oil and gas industry: “The direct impact comes from the taxes, royalties, fees, salaries, and other money spent in Louisiana by the oil and gas industry. The indirect impact results from the salaries and wages earned by oil and gas employees being spent in the state as well as service companies, which do business with oil and gas companies and then do business with other companies.” With all the emphasis on making offshore drilling safer and profitable, the reality is that this type of work continues to hold risks for offshore workers.

Because of the equipment used and the location, the offshore worker in Louisiana faces the possibility of injury each time he or she goes into work. What types of accidents are the most common? The CDC report on labor force statistics from 2003-2010 breaks down the percentages of events resulting in fatalities as follows:

  • Transportation events (51%)
  • Contact with objects or equipment (16%)
  • Fires and explosions (13%), and,
  • Exposure to harmful substances/environments (13%).

Additionally, 75% of the of fatal injuries “were associated with aircraft, all of which were helicopters.” Of those injuries, “mechanical failure or loss of engine power” was most commonly cited as the underlying reason, followed by bad weather. Drowning was also cited at a lower percentage among those who survived the impact.

The CDC report also provides the percentage of fatally injured workers who were employed by the oil and gas extraction industry—a whopping 68%. The largest percentage of these workers were employed by “well servicing companies,” drilling contractors, or oil and gas operators. Employees working in the transportation and warehousing of materials, construction and “the transportation of workers and their equipment to and from offshore drilling platforms” made up the majority of the remaining percentage of offshore workers.

Although not every injury results in a fatality, what should be clear from these numbers is the high rate of injury as compared to other professions. This is dangerous work, no matter where in the chain of command an offshore worker is positioned. Employees charged with moving drilling equipment and workers to and from offshore platforms are not free of risk, eventhought they often do not work in close proximity to the explosive oil and natural gas extraction process. Workers at every level ought to be aware of the risk they face, and should know their legal rights.

Legal Remedies for Offshore Accidents

Workers can do little to change safety standards while working aboard vessels. They are only protected by industry standards and, more importantly, how well their companies have adhered to those standards. So what can someone do who has been injured in an offshore accident?

The Jones Act covers many types of offshore employees. If you are considered a Jones Act seaman, your rights may be protected under this specialized area of the law. The Jones Act protects all traditional types of seafaring crewmembers, including the gas exploration and drilling employees in the oil and gas industry. Please keep in mind that not all employees of oil and gas industry are covered under the Jones Act. The designation only applies to those offshore workers who spend a certain percentage of their workday at sea (aboard a vessel).

The Jones Act allows negligence suits to be filed directly against the employer. This can be an economic life-saver if you’ve worked on an unsafe vessel. The Act differs from workers’ compensation laws (State and LHWCA) that generally do not allow employees to sue their employers for negligence. A major benefit of an employee being covered under the Jones Act is that he or she can recover additional damages for many more types of accidents. There are distinct time limits that a Jones Act lawsuit must follow. It is important if you have been injured or someone you love has been injured or killed in any kind of an offshore accident, that you speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Louisiana offshore accident attorney.

The Law Offices of Matt & Allen is here to help answer any possible questions you may have about your employee status under the Jones Act and what types of legal actions may be available under your circumstances.

Offshore Accident Practice Areas

Below are a few specific injury-prone circumstances and positions we have seen in the past. For more information, click on each link to find out how the Law Offices of Matt & Allen can help you secure the compensation you deserve and get back to the life you’ve enjoyed.

Common Types of Injuries

If you have been injured in an offshore accident, contact the experienced Louisiana offshore injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Matt & Allen today.