Throughout the Gulf of Mexico, seamen, dockworkers, and other employees in the oil and gas industry are exposed to dangerous working conditions. Because offshore and maritime work is so treacherous, many of the workplace accidents and injuries that occur can have serious, life-altering consequences, including wrongful death.
Maritime law governs vessels owned and operated by companies in the United States when traveling in navigable waters. Some of the more well known and commonly used maritime laws include the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and the Death on the High Seas Act. All of these federal laws are intended to protect maritime workers and their families.
Causes of Offshore Accidents
Offshore accidents can occur for a number of reasons, including failure to maintain the vessel, poorly trained workers, navigating dangerous situations, and many others. Common causes of maritime incidents our attorneys see time and again include:
- Equipment failure
- Lack of proper training
- Collisions at sea
- Poor vessel maintenance
- Failure to provide safety equipment
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Improperly stored and unsecured equipment
- Crane and heavy machinery accidents
Seamen and other maritime workers work in very dangerous conditions. They are at risk of different injuries caused by defective equipment, unseaworthy vessels, and employer negligence. Poor maintenance, lack of proper safety measures, and unsafe working practices can result in explosions, fires, and blowouts.
The unstable nature of the ocean, and wet, slippery conditions on vessels and platforms can jeopardize workers’ safety, leading to serious workplace injuries. The most common injuries suffered by offshore workers include:
Back and Neck Injuries
Back injuries are the leading cause of injury for maritime workers. Trauma sustained to the back and neck can often lead to permanent disability. The vertebral column is compromised of several ligaments and muscles that protect the spinal cord and assist the body with movement. When an injury occurs to these points on the body, it can cause significant and debilitating pain.
Chains, hatches, winches, and other elements offshore workers are consistently engaged with can quickly and easily cause serious injuries. Limb loss or amputation is an incredibly real concern for offshore workers. Amputation can be particularly devastating for these workers, as these limbs are crucial to job performance, leaving many who suffer from limb loss unable to work offshore at all.
Offshore brain injuries happen due to the negligence and carelessness of maritime employers, companies, and/or vessel owners. An open head injury occurs when the skull is cracked, fractured, or pierced, while a closed head injury doesn’t cause any breaks or cracks in the skull at all. Seamen should always report head injuries to their employers and seek medical assistance, regardless of how minor the accident may seem.
Maritime burn injuries can cause serious pain for victims and can prevent them from returning to work. Offshore workers often work with scalding liquids, oil, gas, flammable chemicals, and electrical equipment, facing daily threats of electrical accidents, fires, and explosions.
Seamen frequently suffer shoulder and arm injuries while working aboard vessels. The causes include repetitive motion, lifting and carrying too heavy of items, slipping and falling, and more. Our maritime lawyers commonly see torn rotator cuffs, bursitis, fractures, collarbone problems, and more.