Offshore injuries are some of the most significant and devastating types of workplace injuries. Many times, they lead to long-term severe injury or death. Working on an offshore vessel comes with its risks, as employees are exposed to unsafe work conditions, heavy and dangerous machinery, and fires.
A five-year study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that at least 598 employees died while working on offshore oil rigs. Over those five years, the occurrence of deaths per year increased by 70%. In the state of Texas alone, the number increased by 21%. During this period, an additional 20,000 other offshore workers were non-fatally injured. The fatality rate in the offshore industry is seven times higher than other industries.
What Types of Offshore Accidents Occur?
Offshore injuries can occur in many ways. Seamen are constantly exposed to conditions like rough weather and moving machinery. A CDC study found that transportation events were the most common cause of offshore fatalities, accounting for 51% of deaths over a 7-year period. Some of the more common types of injuries we see are:
- Back injuries. Back injuries are a common offshore injury. Though they do not usually cause catastrophic damage, they can significantly impede your ability to work, sometimes affecting future earning potential.
- Spinal cord damage. Spinal cord damage is a serious injury that can lead to paralysis. It can also lead to loss of limb function, which of course permanently affects your ability to work.
- Brain injuries. Brain injuries are one of the most severe types of damage in offshore accidents. They can lead to long-term cognitive issues and loss of neurological function.
- Burns. Burns are very common and very serious. Seamen work around machinery and liquids at extremely high temperatures. Burns from machinery, chemical burns, and oil burns can cause significant injury. A 7-year study from the CDC found that fires and explosions contributed to 13% of total offshore fatalities. Burns often have detrimental long-term physical and emotional effects.
- Amputations. Loss of limbs and/or fingers happens often in offshore accidents. This can occur as the injury itself, or as a procedure because of another injury. Amputations can significantly affect your ability for future work.
- Crush injuries. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for workers to be crushed in between two pieces of equipment or machinery. This can cause catastrophic damage to the entire body, loss of limbs, and other injuries.
Proving Negligence and Claiming Damages
Under the Jones Act, which protects seamen injured offshore, you are able to claim several types of damages. Claiming negligence in an offshore accident is similar to a traditional personal injury lawsuit because you must prove negligence before you can recover damages. However, unlike a personal injury suit, only a small percentage of negligence is necessary. For example, if your employer is found to be even 2% at fault, you will still be able to recover damages. Damages include:
- Medical bills, present and future.
- Rehabilitation expenses, such as physical therapy, medications, and others.
- Lost wages, present and future.
Offshore Injury and Maritime Law Attorneys in Texas
Contact maritime law attorneys Lapeze & Johns PLLC if you have questions about offshore injuries and how you are protected under the Jones Act. Based in Texas, we work with clients on the Gulf Coast and other areas. In fact, we have worked with clients all over the country in offshore injury cases. We have over 30 years of experience working as trial lawyers. We provide compassionate and effective representation for injured seamen. We will recover the compensation you deserve to rebuild your life. Contact us today to see how we can help.