An oil rig injury can have a profound effect on a family, as workers in the industry are often in physically demanding positions. Any accident, no matter how minor, can affect a victim’s ability to work and provide for themselves and their loved ones. If negligence is responsible for an accident, it can be arduous to figure out who is responsible, as multiple companies may be in control of a single petroleum platform. Most platforms are owned by one company and leased by another, so several companies may be responsible for individual components of the platform. Complicating the situation further is application of the Jones Act, which gives many platform workers additional rights following an incident.
What are some examples of an oil rig injury?
Isolated from the mainland, workers on a petroleum platform have to be careful as medical treatment may be too far away following an accident. Defective wellheads, drilling systems and other industrial equipment can cause accidents. Safety fallbacks that malfunction may result in an explosion or cause extreme amounts of pressure to build up around the drilling site. Gas leaks may poison workers or cause equipment to fail, resulting in possible accidents. Poor upkeep of the platform itself may leave it unprepared in the event of dangerous weather or a fire. Workers and managers neglecting to follow proper safety procedures, like proper hazardous material storage, can also put others in harm’s way.
For example, the Deepwater Horizon platform explosion and subsequent oil spill was the result of several safety failures. On the day of the explosion, a dangerous amount of pressure built up in one of the platform’s marine risers. Within minutes of the pressure building up, a blowout of methane gases occurred, which ignited once it reached the surface, engulfing the platform in fire.
There were many leading factors that caused the explosion. Workers reported malfunctioning equipment just weeks before the explosion that was not repaired. The people in charge of monitoring pressure also misinterpreted the instruments recording the ambient pressure in the well. These were just a handful of the contributing factors, but it’s clear that negligence was a major part of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
What should someone do if they suffer an oil rig injury while on the job?
Platform workers usually benefit from additional rights granted to them under the Jones Act. The Jones Act applies to seamen in a number of businesses and gives workers two additional rights. First, it obligates employers to offer “maintenance and cure” to its seamen. Maintenance and cure is medical treatment, board and support during convalescence in the event of an accident. Second, qualified seamen are able to file a lawsuit against an employer in the wake of an accident if negligence is the cause. That differs from worker’s compensation claims in most other businesses.
Anyone harmed while working on a petroleum platform should consider speaking to Terry Bryant and his team of experienced lawyers. Terry Bryant’s firm has experience representing people under the Jones Act and has helped many petroleum workers get the compensation needed to support themselves and their families.