Anyone who has ever seen a news report of an oil platform accident is likely to picture flames, billowing clouds of smoke, and massive oil spill. However, as accurate as that can be, not all oil platform accidents are as the one described. People can suffer injuries from slip and fall accidents, people can be burned while welding or repairing platforms, workers can fall from gangways and steps, and a host of other problems can also be described as oil platform accidents. Even helicopter fatalities and injuries occur when someone is working on an oil platform. (USAToday.com, 2013)
And though this means that there are scores of ways that someone in the maritime industry might be injured or even killed in an oil platform accident, the rules and laws around such issues are fairly standardized. In other words, no matter what happens to you in an oil platform accident, whether severe or minor, there are laws meant to protect you and your interests.
You may mistakenly believe that because your line of work is one of the most dangerous around that you won’t have any right to claim additional compensation after an injury that was not your fault. While you may think that maintenance and cure are the only things you are owed, it could be that you can pursue compensation that goes far beyond that.
As an example, you may be able to pursue compensation for lost wages, medical bills, disability, pain and suffering, and more. Your surviving dependents are also protected under these same maritime laws, and it is important for everyone to know this even before you are injured in any sort of oil platform accident.
Why? Because few employers or vessel owners will actively admit to any wrongdoing or negligence. Not only does this present them with enormous financial risks, but it also puts them in jeopardy for criminal proceedings. There are federal laws and safety regulations that require any employer or vessel owner to do everything possible to reduce and/or eliminate risks. When they fail to do these things, they are negligent in the eyes of the law. This opens them up to your claims for compensation in addition to putting them at risk for legal punishment.
Of course, your claims that there was negligence at work are not going to be taken at face value. You will have to prove that you are correct in claiming that someone was negligent. This is why your best ally is an experienced maritime lawyer. This is someone who understands the many different ways that negligence occurs, and who can then scrutinize your case to identify all of the various points where negligence is likely to have played a role in the oil platform accident.
As a simple illustration, if you worked with people who were put on tasks for which they did not have training or adequate supervision, it can mean there was negligence. If you were injured in a fall from a walkway or gangplank that had not been properly inspected or repaired, it could be negligence. The owner of a vessel, the employer, and even co-workers can all be negligent in their duties, and in these ways they can become liable for the injuries caused by an accident.
Yes, working on an oil platform is seriously risky work, but it does not ever have to be life threatening or wildly dangerous. It only becomes so when someone or several someones are negligent in their duties. A good attorney can help you identify just who is to blame and help you get compensated.