Types of Offshore Accidents and Injuries
Maritime workers sustain offshore injuries for many reasons. They work long hours and deal with extremely dangerous conditions while performing offshore work. When a seaman is injured in an accident, maritime law provides several legal avenues to recover compensation for maritime injuries and damages.
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Common Causes of Offshore Accidents
Working at sea poses inherent dangers. Additionally, working with heavy machinery and equipment poses its own risks. For many reasons, seamen perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
Common offshore accidents include:
Accident on Decks
Seaman and crew members perform many of their duties on deck. Deck accidents may occur because of slippery or wet surfaces. Crew members may be hit by falling objects, moving equipment, or cables.
Due to rough seas, unsecured ladders, and missing rails, falls from open decks may occur. Workers can fall into open hatches or, worse, into the ocean.
Fires and Explosions
Explosions and fires on oil platforms are a huge risk. They may burn out of control and spread quickly. In addition, fires and explosions may occur on ships and other vessels because of malfunctioning equipment, failure to follow measures, and carrying dangerous materials.
In some cases, malfunctioning ventilation systems or inadequately maintained exhaust, fuel lines, or pumps can start a fire or cause an explosion. The types of offshore accidents are perilous because workers may not be able to stop the fires, and they have nowhere to go but into the ocean.
Offshore Drilling Rig Accidents
Seamen working on offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico face rough seas, work long hours, and deal with complex and dangerous equipment. Injuries are common when a person is careless, tired, or negligent. In addition, failing to follow safety regulations, maintain equipment, and require adequate rest periods often causes injuries on offshore driving rigs.
Defective Equipment or Equipment Failure
Seamen depend on the equipment they use to operate correctly. Defective equipment or malfunctioning equipment can result in loss of limbs, amputations, and crushing injuries. In addition, a worker who is pinned can die if they are not freed from the machine quickly.
Additionally, improperly maintained equipment can cause electrical shocks and severe burns. Equipment that is not secured correctly may fall, crushing workers to death.
Barge and Tugboat Injuries
It may appear safer to work on a barge or tugboat than an offshore rig or jack-up rig. However, seamen working on barges and tugboats also have a high risk of injury from accidents.
Slip, trip, and fall accidents are common. Also, accidents involving tow wires and tow winches can cause catastrophic injuries and death. In addition, workers may fall overboard or from heights on the barges.
Barges are difficult to maneuver, which can result in accidents. When a barge disconnects from a tugboat, crew members may be unable to navigate the large vessel. Many employers understaff these vessels, which increases the risk of injuries and accidents.
Jack-Up Rig Accidents
Jack-up rigs drill in shallow water. These vessels are built for stability, but they can tip over or collapse if they are not adequately secured to the seafloor.
Highly specialized equipment used on jack-up rights can fail, leading to fires and explosions. Workers may fall, be struck by falling objects, or suffer concussions from a blast. Because the machinery is enormous, there is always a risk of being injured if a piece of the machine strikes a worker.
Accidents on Oil Platforms
Oil and gas leaks can cause fires and explosions on oil platforms. In addition, during a storm or high seas, the oil platform could become unstable, resulting in unsafe conditions on all parts of the platform. Using swing ropes to get off the platform is a safety risk that workers continuously are required to undertake.
What Types of Injuries Are Caused by Offshore Accidents?
The injuries offshore workers sustain range from bumps, bruises, and lacerations to life-threatening conditions. Sadly, seamen often sustain multiple injuries and continue working. In some cases, they work until they collapse or develop a medical condition that requires emergency medical treatment.
Common offshore accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Loss of vision and eye injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including partial and complete paralysis
- loss of limbs and amputations
- severe burns and electrocutions
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals and toxic substances
- Back and neck injuries
- Injuries and damage to internal organs
An offshore worker may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and damages. Several maritime laws compensate seaman, longshoremen, and other maritime workers injured on the job.
An injured maritime worker may be able to file a claim under:
- Jones Act
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)
- Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA)
The best way to know whether you have a claim under one of the above maritime injury laws is to discuss your case with an attorney. The laws apply to specific workers and jobs. Furthermore, the benefits you can receive under the various laws differ.
A maritime accident attorney analyzes the facts of your case to determine which law governs your workplace injury. If more than one law applies in your case, a lawyer can explain which option will give you the best chance of winning your case and provide the best benefits for your injuries and damages.
In many cases, injured maritime workers can receive compensation for lost wages and medical treatment. Some laws compensate injured seamen for pain and suffering, decreased earning potential, and mental anguish. In addition, family members may receive wrongful death benefits under the law that governs their loved one’s accident.
Contact a Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Offshore accidents cause traumatic injuries and deaths for offshore workers. Seaman, longshoremen, and other maritime workers deserve to be treated fairly and receive the compensation they are entitled to under maritime laws. Contact a Houston maritime accident attorney at (713) 500-5000 for a free consultation.