Oil Rig Injury Attorney
Crude oil is in demand in the United States as we aim to pull away from foreign oil dependency and look to sustain our oil industry. In recent years, offshore drilling has become more favorable than ever before. Companies have erected oil rig platforms throughout the Gulf of Mexico to tap into the massive reserves of oil under the ocean and right off our coasts; the drilling and refining of crude oil happen right out at sea.
Oil companies provide thousands of workers with jobs, but these giant rigs can be an incredibly hazardous place to work. Working on a platform is known as one of the most dangerous jobs in America for good reason.
Drilling utilizes astounding pressure to retrieve oil. Any blockage or backflow in the system can result in an intense explosion, igniting the naturally-occurring hydrocarbons in the process. These are known as “blowouts.” Blowouts are usually sudden and can rupture pipelines, causing large amounts of pressurized oil and gas to spew into the surrounding area. They often result in catastrophic explosions and fires.
Injured by an Oil Rig Explosion? Arnold & Itkin LLP Can Help!
The seamen who devote their careers to drilling and maintenance projects on offshore oil platforms are vulnerable to the dangers of such projects. Not only do oil rig workers face the rigorous task of operating heavy machinery, but they face the possibility of suffering a life-altering injury as well should they be in the path of an explosion, a fire, or an eruption of hazardous fumes. Oil rig explosion injuries range from severe burns to blunt trauma, to crush injuries and dismemberment. In many cases, workers cannot entirely recover due to the catastrophic nature of the injuries. For this reason, it has become increasingly important for all workers to secure a safe environment and ensure that all safety regulations are being followed. Failing to do so could have devastating consequences, which is, unfortunately, evident when looking at oil rig explosions that have occurred throughout history. For this reason, the injured should not hesitate to pursue just compensation.
Common Types of Oil Rig Injuries
One of the most common ways that workers may experience significant harm at the hands of an oil rig accident comes in the form of burn injuries. Whether there is a defective piece of equipment, eroded electrical materials, or a simple mistake, there is a great potential for extreme fires or explosions. Any form of a chemical spill or exposed power lines can quickly escalate into creating a dangerous fire. Additionally, external factors such as treacherous water or stormy weather can influence the possibility of problems aboard the rig. Unfortunately, because oil rig workers are out at sea, there is little time for them to escape from these types of imminent dangers, leaving many people helpless in the event of an accident.
Injury in the form of a burn can be life-altering to an individual. While first- and second-degree burns are more manageable and easily treated, third- and fourth-degree burns can continue to affect a person throughout their lifetime. Charring the skin and extending its damage down below the deeper layers of the dermis, these types of burns can be so harmful that amputations may sometimes be required.
These burns can lead to impaired mobility or total loss of the limb. In the most severe circumstances, charring burns can sear a victim’s tissue all the way down to the bone. Scarring, contractures, local infections, amputation, and significant functional impairment can all result. There is also a stronger chance of skin cancer, gangrene, or death from these wounds. Individuals that must suffer prolonged damage, requiring weeks or months of healing time and the possibility of physical therapy can be out of work and without income.
Workers can suffer many injuries from an oil rig explosion, but one of the most catastrophic is that of brain damage. The brain is the primary organ that helps direct the rest of the body in its everyday functions. Even the smallest brain injury can have a devastating impact on your future. Brain injuries can occur for many reasons. Falling debris from the damaged structure may land on a worker, a worker may be forced down because of the pressure, or a worker may experience oxygen deprivation because of smoke inhalation during the resulting fire.
It does not matter if you sustained a closed or open head injury, the side effects of a traumatic brain injury can severely impact your everyday functionality. Some classic indicators of a brain injury may include dizziness, swelling, loss of consciousness, concussion, seizures, insomnia, or even just a slight change in behavior. Unfortunately, when it comes to brain injuries, there are ways to stabilize the patient, but brain damage is often irreversible and may cause physical and financial hardship for the rest of your life.
Due to the unique hazards in a seamen's line of work, there are many dangers to oil rig workers that result in spinal trauma. The force at which an explosion leaves a well or pipe can be enough to knock someone off their feet; however, the resulting fall may permanently damage a worker's spine. Spinal cord injuries are considered medical emergencies and need to be dealt with promptly to ensure that paralysis does not occur and that no further damage is done to the spinal column, nerves, or muscles around the vertebrae. When an accident results in a spinal cord injury, the brain may have a difficult time sending signals out to the rest of the body. This could have severe consequences and even affect the victim's ability to move and control other bodily motor functions. In severe cases, the victim could become paralyzed or even quadriplegic. Unfortunately, the spine does not quickly repair itself because it is so delicate. Thus, the damage may be irreversible. This means that a spine injury victim could experience a permanent loss of wages while having to pay for ongoing medical bills for constant care. This financial hardship is not yours to bear.
Crush injuries have proven to be some of the most life-altering of all injuries. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "a crush injury occurs when a body part is subjected to a high degree of force or pressure." Most commonly, this happens when a falling object strikes a person or when they are wedged between two heavy objects. When working on an oil rig, there are a variety of different ways in which an injury of this nature could be sustained. For example, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, 240 ft. of seawater, mud, and methane gas erupted from the ocean. Workers aboard the vessel were forced to take cover from the various parts of the rig that had broken free.
One of the most gruesome injuries that can occur is dismemberment. Dismemberment occurs when a person's limb is torn off or cut from their body—whether by the force of a much more massive object or by being pulled in two opposing directions. In the event of an explosion, arms and legs can become trapped in equipment and be torn from the body. Unlike surgical amputation, these accidents often result in an untimely death.
If I Was Injured On An Oil Rig, What Are My Legal Options?
If your injury occurred while you were working on an offshore oil rig, you may be entitled to relief through:
The Jones Act
This would require a showing that your employer was negligent, much like a personal injury lawsuit. It must also be proven that you as the employee carried the title of "seaman" at the time of your injury. You are considered a seaman if at least 30% of your work hours were spent on an offshore vessel. The Jones Act also only covers United States citizens on American-owned vessels.
Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
You do not need to show fault in this type of claim, which has procedures and benefits similar to the workers' compensation system that covers industrial injuries that occur on land. This act states that if you are an offshore worker or work in an "adjacent occupation" even if you do not spend 30% or more of your time on an offshore vessel, you are liable to compensation under this act.
Legal Representation for Oil Rig Explosion Injury Victims
After suffering from an injury of any degree, rig workers can and should take legal action. To forego this right would meaning foregoing your chance for compensation, which could be used for the costs of recovery. In our experience, workers know that their injuries are not purely accidental—they know that oil rig explosions are the result of negligence and valuing profit over safety. Civil law is designed to give you a chance to receive justice. Justice is more than symbolic—it has allowed our clients to move forward with confidence, equipped with financial security.
The medical expenses that result from staying at the hospital would be costly. Add in the costs of rehabilitation and lost wages and the seamen could be facing drastically unaffordable costs—even with the best insurance. In many cases, workers’ compensation is unable to cover the costs of treatment and recovery. Oil rig explosion victims in this situation can pursue other compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. With the help of an experienced injury attorney, our clients have taken action against those responsible for their pain and suffering.
Getting the Compensation You Deserve: Call (888) 493-1629
Offshore oil companies must provide their employees with the necessary safety precautions to prevent a major disaster at sea; however, some accidents cannot be avoided. Oil explosions can have devastating effects on coastal communities, fishing, and the economy, but no effect can be as heartbreaking and painful to get through as a severe injury received by a rig worker during the initial explosion.
If you or a loved one has been tragically injured or wrongfully killed in an oil rig explosion, you deserve compensation. At Arnold & Itkin, we have experience in representing workers who were injured in explosions on rigs. All told, we have won billions of dollars for our clients.
For this reason, we urge you to take the time to speak with a knowledgeable attorney at our firm about the cause of your injuries and begin working toward obtaining the level of compensation that you deserve. By filling out and submitting a free case evaluation form today, you will be one step closer to the justice you deserve. If you were injured in any explosion, contact Arnold & Itkin. With our experience and record for results, you can fight for the financial compensation that you deserve. Do not hesitate to contact our firm today.