Oil rig workers face many dangers while working shifts that can exceed 12 hours or more. High seas conditions are often very dangerous work environments. Workers must endure dangerously extreme weather, all while working under extreme pressure. Many times, workers will travel from rig to rig across dangerously rough waters, working at multiple stations a day.
The Jones Act is designed to protect the legal rights of oil rig workers as well as the rights of those who work on jack-up rigs, barges, drill ships, crew boats, and other moveable vessels. Under maritime law, oil rigs are considered vessels and that means protection for people injured while working on an oil rig.
A Forbes magazine report listed working on an oil rig as one of the top ten worst jobs in 2010. The report evaluated several different jobs by set criteria which consisted of work environment, physical demands, extreme stress, median income, and hiring prospects. Oil rig work ranked so low because of the high amounts of stress, the extreme physical demand, and numerous onsite hazards. Many of these hazards associated with the job could result in severe injury or death. Injury on the job can lead to major financial strain such as:
- Long Term Rehabilitation
- In-Home Care
- Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
- Future physical or emotional health complications associated with the injury
- Emotional and financial counseling for the worker and his family
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Maritime Law and Your Legal Rights
If you have been injured while working at sea on an oil rig, oil drilling ship, semi-submersible, crew boat, or oil supply ship, you may have a claim for money damages under Federal Maritime law. The Jones Act and general maritime law create rights for damages against your employer which includes coverage for all medical expenses.
When you are injured because of the negligence of an employer, you may be entitled for compensation for lost past and future wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, future medical expenses, and costs of retraining. Because of the extreme physical requirements placed on offshore workers, injuries that result in a worker unable to complete any of their duties may make them unfit for work. There are few if any light duty jobs for workers on an oil rig, oil supply ship or crew boat.
In most instances, jack-up rigs, floating oil rigs, and lay barges that move from location to location are vessels in navigation and create rights under the Jones Act for workers injured while working aboard these structures. In most cases, the Jones Act provides more liberal damages than damages available to workers on fixed production platforms who are limited by compensation under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Common injuries after oil rig explosions include:
- Brain injury from blasts
- Exposure to toxic and dangerous chemicals
- Loss of hearing
- Loss of limbs
- Spine injury from falls
Houston Oil Rig Explosion Attorney Rob Ammons Discusses Oil Rig Workers Legal Rights on Fox News
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce says its investigation of the fatal Deepwater Horizon accident has raised five areas where it appears BP may have put cost above safety:
- Using a single length of production pipe in the well.
- Using too few “centralizers” to keep the producing pipe centered.
- Failure to run a test called a cement bond log to evaluate a cement job.
- Failure to clear debris from the well by circulating drilling mud through it.
- Failure to lock down the wellhead.