Offshore Accident Attorney
The offshore accident attorneys at Mithoff Law represent offshore workers—including longshore and harbor workers and those on offshore platforms—who face incredible risks every day. According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, there were nearly 1,500 offshore accidents between 2015 and 2017 alone, and more than a third of those involved injury.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or even killed as the result of an offshore accident, an experienced Houston offshore injury lawyer may be able to provide you and your family with guidance and knowledge.
To ask us your questions, contact the offshore accident attorneys at Mithoff Law today and schedule a consultation.
“Mithoff has been one of Houston’s most respected attorneys for decades, handling such high-profile cases as the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Enron-related litigation on behalf of J.P, Morgan Chase and highly publicized bus and plant explosions.”
– Houston Chronicle, June 26, 2019
Laws protecting offshore workers
Offshore accidents can be broadly defined as any workplace accidents that occur off-land. As such, cases involving offshore injuries or fatalities are frequently covered under maritime law. The following are just some of the jobs that maritime law covers:
- Roughnecks, derrickmen, toolpushers, offshore installation managers (OIMs), deck engineers
- Seamen, deckhands, engineers, mates
- Tankermen and barge workers
- Longshore and harbor workers
However, not all offshore workers are covered by the same maritime laws.
The Jones Act
If you work on a “vessel in navigation,” your offshore accident or injury may be covered under the Jones Act. Under the Jones Act, employers are required to take all necessary precautions to ensure the following:
- That the seaman has a reasonably safe place to work
- Ordinary procedures necessary for safe conditions are being followed and maintained
Proving negligence is at the core of any offshore injury involving a Jones Act claim, something you and your Houston offshore injury lawyer will work on closely. In order to be covered by the Jones Act, you must have been injured while working on a vessel that was moving or otherwise navigable. Therefore, offshore workers including longshoremen and rig workers on “fixed” offshore platforms may not be able to pursue benefits under the Jones Act.
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act extends legal protections to offshore workers not covered by the Jones Act. This law applies to longshoremen, harbor workers, civilian employees on military bases, as well as workers on docks and in shipyards.
Unlike workers covered by the Jones Act, longshore and harbor workers may be eligible to receive worker’s compensation. However, the benefits offered under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act are more generous—an important distinction given the severe nature of many offshore accidents.
However, your offshore accident attorney will have to work to prove that your accident or injury makes you eligible for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. In order to qualify, you must satisfy the requirements of two tests:
- The status test: In order to pass the status test, you and your offshore accident attorney must establish that the work you perform is considered maritime work. In this context, maritime work can include shipbuilding, maintenance and repair, aquaculture, and other work performed on a marina.
- The situs test: In order to pass the situs test, you and your offshore accident attorney must establish that you generally work “on, near, or adjacent to navigable water”. Employees who can prove that they generally work on piers, wharves, dry docks, harbors, etc. are generally able to pass the situs test.
The OCS Lands Act
Unfortunately, neither the Jones Act nor the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act provides coverage for those injured on fixed offshore drilling platforms such as those in the Gulf of Mexico.
Offshore platform workers injured on the job are often subject to the OCS Lands Act, which stipulates that only the laws of the state most adjacent to the site of the offshore accident may apply to that accident—not maritime law. In OCS Lands Act cases, the state law is effectively acting as a surrogate for federal law.
There is a three-part test to determine whether or not your accident/injury can be properly addressed under the OCS Lands Act:
- The incident must have occurred on a site covered by the OCS Lands Act (generally, a stationary offshore structure not otherwise defined as a vessel)
- Federal maritime law cannot apply to the circumstances of your accident
- The laws of the adjacent state cannot be inconsistent with relevant federal laws
Fight for the compensation you deserve: Hire a Houston offshore accident attorney at Mithoff Law
When dealing with the devastating aftermath of an offshore injury, the last thing you want to be worried about is the complicated technicalities of maritime law. Let the experienced Houston offshore injury lawyers at Mithoff Law work through these complex issues so that you can focus on recovery.
We’ve helped families recover from serious accidents in the Gulf of Mexico using the trial-tested strategies that these complex cases require. Call us today at 713-654-1122 or request a consultation online to speak with one of our offshore injury attorneys and explore your options.