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Most Common Types of Offshore Accidents

Offshore jobs can be very lucrative. They can also be very dangerous. Personnel who work on a vessel far out at sea typically face a number of Most Common Types of Offshore Accidentslife-threatening hazards on a daily basis—everything from malfunctioning equipment that suddenly endangers everyone nearby, to simple trip-and-fall accidents that result in deadly tumbles from great heights.

The simple fact is that offshore personnel must contend with a much broader range of threats than most of us realize. Consequently, offshore workers are susceptible to a harrowing variety of injuries: skin burns, crushed limbs, hearing loss, spinal cord damage, vision impairment, and more.

Many of these incidents are never even reported to the proper authorities, as unethical employers often attempt to evade punitive actions by covering up accidents when possible. What follows is a more detailed exploration of the kinds of dangers that can be found out in the ocean.

Severe Weather Conditions

Mother Nature is especially harsh to offshore workers. A hurricane or high winds may put oil rig personnel at serious risk—and there’s no easy way to evacuate from the area when meteorological conditions become severe. Inclement weather can lead to all kinds of problems. It increases the odds that personnel will suffer a dangerous fall—or even topple off the vessel completely.

Heavy chains and equipment may get knocked out of their normal position, which poses an obvious safety hazard to anyone in the area. Containers of toxic materials may spill open. Adverse weather conditions are the direct or indirect cause of many serious accidents among offshore personnel.

Malfunctioning Equipment

A lot of oil rig personnel work long shifts—it’s not unheard-of for employees to go 24 hours straight. In this hectic environment, harried rig personnel Malfunctioning Equipmentmay overlook certain safety procedures, such as ensuring that equipment is properly inspected at periodic intervals. As a result, fixable mechanical issues eventually get out of hand, with potentially dangerous results.

Another serious hazard comes from mobile or moving equipment that can strike an individual with great force. It’s not uncommon for offshore workers to get their hand or arm caught in equipment with movable parts. Sometimes workers end up pinned between two pieces of large equipment, crushing a limb or even causing death. Similarly, personnel may sustain severe head injuries from overhead cranes, cables, and chains that drop or swing unexpectedly.

Explosive Materials

Cargo tankers often transport highly flammable materials that could trigger an explosion under certain conditions. For example, oil spilling onto heated equipment may ignite, with explosive results. That’s bad enough, but the danger doesn’t just come from the explosion itself, which may be reasonably limited in impact but can easily ignite combustible fumes or other nearby materials. This may release toxic fumes or gases into the immediate environment and cause harm to the eyes or lungs of nearby personnel; some airborne toxins can even be fatal when inhaled.

Collisions involving two or more vessels might also trigger an explosion if ignitable materials, such as gasoline, are aboard at least one of the ships.

An explosion can set off a fire; a fire can set off an explosion. All it takes is a moment of negligence to instigate a cascading series of events that results in massive damage and potentially human casualties as well.

Slip and Fall

For obvious reasons, the walking surfaces on seafaring vessels tend to get wet. This poses an equally obvious safety risk to personnel making their waySlip and Fall Accidents from one area of the vessel to another. Slip-and-fall accidents are fairly common among offshore workers, and the consequences can be significantly more serious than a typical fall at home.

A fall into an open hatch can lead to major, even life-threatening injury, such as damage to the brain or spine. Falls from elevated surfaces and/or moving platforms are particularly hazardous. Even when offshore personnel is aware of these dangers, the need for haste, coupled with growing fatigue during a long shift, may easily result in an injury that otherwise would be avoidable. This is another threat that can be aggravated by bad weather, which can suddenly knock personnel off-balance.

Transportation Incidents

Sometimes, major personal injuries don’t occur on offshore vessels—they take place on transportation vehicles traveling to or from the workplace. In fact, this is easily the most common type of fatal accident among offshore workers.

Out of these incidents, the most common are helicopter accidents. Helicopter accidents at sea—often triggered by equipment failure or hazardous weather conditions—are frequently fatal, as crew members may drown in the waters even if they manage to survive the impact of the crash. Other transportation vehicles, such as small boats, account for the remainder of these incidents.

Tugboat Accidents

Tugboats are among those seafaring vessels that are covered by maritime laws governing personal injury. These powerful but relatively tiny vessels Tugboat Accidentspull larger ships that cannot move independently or need help navigating through certain areas. Because of their small size, tugboats can be devastated in the event of a collision with another boat, which may not even see it in time to avoid disaster.

The unique construction of tugboat hulls can place these ships in danger should they attempt to maneuver through the open seas. In addition, tugboat tow cables often must bear enormous strain and a sudden breakage could mean catastrophe. Tugboat crews are also as susceptible as other maritime workers, if not more so, to the varied dangers of working on an offshore vessel: severe weather conditions, deadly falls, and so on.

What to Do in the Event of an Offshore Accident

It should be clear by this point that maritime workers face a broad range of dangers as part of their everyday duties. Injuries and fatalities are tragically much more common in this line of work than is typical for the average American.

For many who are injured in the line of work, the misery is compounded by widespread unawareness of legal protections afforded to them; as we have mentioned, a significant number of accidents are kept under wraps and never officially reported. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Maritime and other offshore personnel who become injured are protected by a number of laws designed to compensate them appropriately and safeguard their rights.

Maritime injury law is distinct from conventional personal injury law, and it is governed by a network of legislation specifically aimed at this industry. These laws include the Jones Act, which provides seamen with remuneration should they become injured on a marine vessel; the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which grants disability payments to maritime workers who are not covered by the Jones Act; the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), intended to distribute recompense to the families of individuals who died, due to their employer’s negligence, while on a vessel over three nautical miles from shore; and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), designed to extend worker protections to encompass lands under U.S. jurisdiction beyond state coastal waters.

Pressing an injury claim is far from a straightforward affair. To navigate your way through this patchwork of legislation, it’s best to have a personal injury attorney with specific experience with maritime laws. At Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., we have assembled some of the top personal injury lawyers in the region.

We have dealt with many maritime cases in the Gulf of Mexico coastal region, and our list of clients includes individuals from all fifty states. Contact us at 1-800-836-5830 or send an e-mail to info@smslegal.com to arrange a free consultation.  Maintenance and Cure is here to help you with your maritime injury claim.

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Recently
Filed Cases

Most Common Types of Offshore Accidents

Offshore jobs can be very lucrative. They can also be very dangerous. Personnel who work on a vessel far out at sea typically face a number of Most Common Types of Offshore Accidentslife-threatening hazards on a daily basis—everything from malfunctioning equipment that suddenly endangers everyone nearby, to simple trip-and-fall accidents that result in deadly tumbles from great heights.

The simple fact is that offshore personnel must contend with a much broader range of threats than most of us realize. Consequently, offshore workers are susceptible to a harrowing variety of injuries: skin burns, crushed limbs, hearing loss, spinal cord damage, vision impairment, and more.

Many of these incidents are never even reported to the proper authorities, as unethical employers often attempt to evade punitive actions by covering up accidents when possible. What follows is a more detailed exploration of the kinds of dangers that can be found out in the ocean.

Severe Weather Conditions

Mother Nature is especially harsh to offshore workers. A hurricane or high winds may put oil rig personnel at serious risk—and there’s no easy way to evacuate from the area when meteorological conditions become severe. Inclement weather can lead to all kinds of problems. It increases the odds that personnel will suffer a dangerous fall—or even topple off the vessel completely.

Heavy chains and equipment may get knocked out of their normal position, which poses an obvious safety hazard to anyone in the area. Containers of toxic materials may spill open. Adverse weather conditions are the direct or indirect cause of many serious accidents among offshore personnel.

Malfunctioning Equipment

A lot of oil rig personnel work long shifts—it’s not unheard-of for employees to go 24 hours straight. In this hectic environment, harried rig personnel Malfunctioning Equipmentmay overlook certain safety procedures, such as ensuring that equipment is properly inspected at periodic intervals. As a result, fixable mechanical issues eventually get out of hand, with potentially dangerous results.

Another serious hazard comes from mobile or moving equipment that can strike an individual with great force. It’s not uncommon for offshore workers to get their hand or arm caught in equipment with movable parts. Sometimes workers end up pinned between two pieces of large equipment, crushing a limb or even causing death. Similarly, personnel may sustain severe head injuries from overhead cranes, cables, and chains that drop or swing unexpectedly.

Explosive Materials

Cargo tankers often transport highly flammable materials that could trigger an explosion under certain conditions. For example, oil spilling onto heated equipment may ignite, with explosive results. That’s bad enough, but the danger doesn’t just come from the explosion itself, which may be reasonably limited in impact but can easily ignite combustible fumes or other nearby materials. This may release toxic fumes or gases into the immediate environment and cause harm to the eyes or lungs of nearby personnel; some airborne toxins can even be fatal when inhaled.

Collisions involving two or more vessels might also trigger an explosion if ignitable materials, such as gasoline, are aboard at least one of the ships.

An explosion can set off a fire; a fire can set off an explosion. All it takes is a moment of negligence to instigate a cascading series of events that results in massive damage and potentially human casualties as well.

Slip and Fall

For obvious reasons, the walking surfaces on seafaring vessels tend to get wet. This poses an equally obvious safety risk to personnel making their waySlip and Fall Accidents from one area of the vessel to another. Slip-and-fall accidents are fairly common among offshore workers, and the consequences can be significantly more serious than a typical fall at home.

A fall into an open hatch can lead to major, even life-threatening injury, such as damage to the brain or spine. Falls from elevated surfaces and/or moving platforms are particularly hazardous. Even when offshore personnel is aware of these dangers, the need for haste, coupled with growing fatigue during a long shift, may easily result in an injury that otherwise would be avoidable. This is another threat that can be aggravated by bad weather, which can suddenly knock personnel off-balance.

Transportation Incidents

Sometimes, major personal injuries don’t occur on offshore vessels—they take place on transportation vehicles traveling to or from the workplace. In fact, this is easily the most common type of fatal accident among offshore workers.

Out of these incidents, the most common are helicopter accidents. Helicopter accidents at sea—often triggered by equipment failure or hazardous weather conditions—are frequently fatal, as crew members may drown in the waters even if they manage to survive the impact of the crash. Other transportation vehicles, such as small boats, account for the remainder of these incidents.

Tugboat Accidents

Tugboats are among those seafaring vessels that are covered by maritime laws governing personal injury. These powerful but relatively tiny vessels Tugboat Accidentspull larger ships that cannot move independently or need help navigating through certain areas. Because of their small size, tugboats can be devastated in the event of a collision with another boat, which may not even see it in time to avoid disaster.

The unique construction of tugboat hulls can place these ships in danger should they attempt to maneuver through the open seas. In addition, tugboat tow cables often must bear enormous strain and a sudden breakage could mean catastrophe. Tugboat crews are also as susceptible as other maritime workers, if not more so, to the varied dangers of working on an offshore vessel: severe weather conditions, deadly falls, and so on.

What to Do in the Event of an Offshore Accident

It should be clear by this point that maritime workers face a broad range of dangers as part of their everyday duties. Injuries and fatalities are tragically much more common in this line of work than is typical for the average American.

For many who are injured in the line of work, the misery is compounded by widespread unawareness of legal protections afforded to them; as we have mentioned, a significant number of accidents are kept under wraps and never officially reported. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Maritime and other offshore personnel who become injured are protected by a number of laws designed to compensate them appropriately and safeguard their rights.

Maritime injury law is distinct from conventional personal injury law, and it is governed by a network of legislation specifically aimed at this industry. These laws include the Jones Act, which provides seamen with remuneration should they become injured on a marine vessel; the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which grants disability payments to maritime workers who are not covered by the Jones Act; the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), intended to distribute recompense to the families of individuals who died, due to their employer’s negligence, while on a vessel over three nautical miles from shore; and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), designed to extend worker protections to encompass lands under U.S. jurisdiction beyond state coastal waters.

Pressing an injury claim is far from a straightforward affair. To navigate your way through this patchwork of legislation, it’s best to have a personal injury attorney with specific experience with maritime laws. At Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., we have assembled some of the top personal injury lawyers in the region.

We have dealt with many maritime cases in the Gulf of Mexico coastal region, and our list of clients includes individuals from all fifty states. Contact us at 1-800-836-5830 or send an e-mail to info@smslegal.com to arrange a free consultation.  Maintenance and Cure is here to help you with your maritime injury claim.

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Successful Cases
Maritime Injury Lawyers

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Board Certified Attorneys

We are maritime injury attorneys that have recovered millions for our injured clients. We have always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel or under the Jones Act law. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones.

These are some of the diverse groups of injured workers we have represented:

  • Jones Act seamen
  • Workers on oil rigs, offshore platforms and jack-up rigs
  • Crews and workers on barges, supply boats, tankers, freighters and other vessels

The list is by no means comprehensive. If you are unsure whether you qualify as a Jones Act seamen or whether you might be covered by other maritime regulations, it’s vital that you contact our maritime lawyers today to learn about your rights.

We have represented workers and their families in the following disasters:

  • Deepwater Horizon Disaster
  • M/V Jillian Morrison Explosion
  • Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 Explosion
  • British Petroleum Texas City Refinery Explosion
  • Phillips 66 Refinery Explosion

The team of Jones Act attorneys and maritime lawyers at SMSH have over 100 years of combined trial experience. Contact our Jones Act lawyers today for a free, confidential case evaluation.

Why Hire the Worldwide Jones Act, Offshore & Maritime Injury Lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris?

The Jones Act and maritime injury lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris have spent more than five decades representing seamen, longshoremen and other maritime workers, and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. SMSH has always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones, as well as recovering the compensation they are entitled to for injuries, medical bills and other damages.

Here are some of the reasons why thousands of injured maritime workers have chosen Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris to represent their interests:

  • We have recovered over $620 million dollars for offshore and maritime workers, including recovery of $17.5 million in the largest Jones Act settlement ever paid by the United States government.
  • Each of our Jones Act attorneys and maritime injury lawyers has more than 25 years of experience, with total of more than 100 years of trial experience for the team.
  • Our maritime injury lawyers have represented clients in some of the nation’s worst maritime and refinery disasters, including: the Deepwater Horizon explosion; the M/V Jillian Morrison explosion; the Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 explosion; the British Petroleum Texas City Refinery explosion; and the Phillips 66 Refinery explosion.
  • As dedicated maritime injury and Jones Act attorneys, we understand the financial difficulties that families often face when a loved one is injured and unable to work. Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris offers interest free loans to assist our clients with day-to-day living expenses while waiting for the conclusion of their case.
  • Our attorneys provide assistance to maritime, offshore and port workers across the United States.
  • We have board certified Personal Injury Trial lawyers.
 

The Maritime Attorney Difference

Maritime and offshore accidents fall under a different set of laws than other personal injury or workers’ compensation claims. There are specific maritime laws that govern claims, including the Jones Act, the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and general maritime laws. To receive the full protections these laws offer, it’s crucial to have an attorney who understands the complexities of each. If you’ve been injured while working on a vessel, offshore or in one of the nation’s many ports, contact the Jones Act attorneys at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris today for a free consultation.
Our experienced offshore injury lawyers have handled cases throughout the Gulf of Mexico coastal region of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and represented clients from all 50 states of the United States. We have years of experience representing the crew working on inland waters such as the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Kentucky River, the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and many more. We have also handled cases worldwide in countries as far away as the Ukraine and Israel. We routinely represent clients from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. We have also made claims for clients from Columbia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, The Philippines, Romania, Croatia, England, Ireland, Spain, The Netherlands, Russia, China, Mexico, and Brazil.

Time is of the Essence

If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured or killed as the result of an offshore accident, please speak to a qualified maritime lawyer before talking to your employer or any insurance company or adjuster. If you work on a vessel, boat, barge, tanker, fishing boat, an offshore drilling rig or platform, or any other kind of ship, you may qualify for Jones Act compensation. Working in, on, or near water means you need the specially-trained legal assistance of the Board Certified maritime lawyers of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P.

A few small tidbits of advice for the injured offshore worker:

  1. Fill out an accident report or incident paperwork as soon as possible after your injury.
  2. If your employer gives you any paperwork to sign, have it reviewed by a competent maritime lawyer so you don’t waive your rights to more money.
  3. Do not give a recorded statement to anyone without first seeking legal counsel.
  4. Do not accept the word of a company doctor as to the extent of your injuries, seek out your own doctor for a second-opinion.
We are Worldwide Jones Act attorneys and Maritime lawyers with over 100 years combined experience in Maritime Personal Injury Cases and we have handled thousands of cases. Your initial consultation for your maritime accident case is FREE. You pay us nothing unless we win your case and get you money. Call a maritime lawyer NOW at 1-800-836-5830 or e-mail us at info@smslegal.com.

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Recent Successful Cases

$17.5 Million in Jones Act Deckhand Case

 

In March 2008, our client was employed as a deckhand in a shipyard. He suffered a head injury.

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$2.5 Million Recovered in Jones Act Case

 

While on stern of tug attempting to hook up a barge, the “L” line became tight, broke, hit our client,

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$1.6 Million Recovered for Offshore Workers

 

On April 20, 2007, while working as blasters, painting an offshore rig on a platform, our two clients injured

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