The maritime job can be dangerous and accidents are quite common. The aftermath of an offshore accident can be confusing, leaving you traumatized. These accidents can leave you with severe injuries resulting in long-term health conditions and large medical bills. If you’re a seaman, you should know that you have legal rights as stated in the Jones Act, Death on the High Seas Act, and general maritime law. The legal rights intend to protect you in case of injuries you sustain while working. But maritime law is different from other laws because it has its own rules and regulations, making it important to have an offshore lawyer with knowledge and experience of maritime law.
What is an offshore injury attorney?
Offshore injuries can happen anywhere and anytime. Whether these injuries are major or minor, your insurance company has to help you. But, it’s sometimes difficult to get full help from them, making it essential to hire offshore attorneys.
Offshore attorneys refer to lawyers whose specialty is maritime law also called admiralty law. This is the type of law that only applies to the maritime industry to help uphold the rights of workers in the event of accidental injuries or illness. Maritime law is quite different from other types of disability laws because it only focuses on people working offshore.
This law is so complicated that most of the attorneys lack adequate knowledge and experience to handle some of the cases. Therefore, you need to find an attorney with knowledge in maritime law, acts, and work regulations. You can contact an offshore attorney if you sustain injuries while working. The attorney can use their knowledge to help you receive the full benefits that you deserve.
The importance of hiring an offshore attorney
When you sustain injuries while working in an offshore facility or a ship, you are legally entitled to compensation. This means the insurance company has to pay you a sum of money to cover for medical costs as well as living expenses as you recover. This compensation is also popularly called maintenance and cure. The general maritime law has a provision that allows compensation for personal injuries.
Unfortunately, some employers and their insurance companies are only interested in making profits and they devise ways to deny your claim or pay less money. Employers might try to avoid responsibilities for your injuries sustained while working on their ship or offshore facility. Understandably, they do this to protect their reputation and profit margins.
As if this is not enough, such types of employers make things difficult for employees who ask for compensation. They can make your life difficult for you to find similar offshore work with other companies. This retaliation is called blacklisting. You may wonder how such companies can go away with such tactics. Well, offshore injuries happen too far for the investigators to do a thorough investigation. This makes it easy for companies to attempt to fix things to appear more in their favor than the worker. Besides this, when an accident happens, investigators and attorneys are told on short notice of the incident. This makes it hard for you to make a successful claim from the insurance company. Thankfully, some of the offshore injury attorneys are aware of these tactics and they can detect anomalies.
The Jones Act stipulates that injured workers can be compensated for lost wages, medical expenses, and many others. Aside from this, if you are qualified as an offshore worker, such as longshoremen, attorneys can use other acts to protect your rights after an injury. This is the reason why you need an offshore attorney to give you options available for you.
Types of accidents and injuries
An offshore attorney will help you to get compensation due to injuries caused by a party at fault. Below are some of the injuries that require compensation
Back and neck injuries
Trauma to your neck, back, and spinal cord is one of the most serious injuries you can sustain while working offshore. This type of injury can cause permanent disability. You see, the vertebral column consists of ligaments and muscles designed to protect your spinal cord and help in movement. But, if there is any injury to this part, it can lead to debilitating pain
Most offshore workers are at risk of suffering these injuries because of various situations. Therefore, you are legible for compensation if there was owner negligence, improper training, operator negligence, and lack of proper equipment. Others include improper procedures and operations, faulty machinery, failure to follow safety procedures, and unsafe working conditions.
Most of the accidents occur when companies fail to follow safety procedures or due to negligence. As a result, you risk getting injuries, such accidents include
- You can slip and fall on a wet floor, stairs, or decks.
- Falling from a high height.
- Inappropriate lifting or moving of heavy cargo or equipment.
- A heavy equipment hitting you.
Offshore workers usually work with various equipment such as chains, winches, and hatches. These types of equipment can cause severe injuries, which is a huge concern for most offshore workers especially if it leads to loss of limbs or amputation. It’s common for some workers to suffer crushed limbs, leading to traumatic surgical amputation. There is no easy psychological way of handling offshore amputation. This is because such amputation happens while making a living for yourself and your family.
The federal law demands that offshore companies must do proper maintenance of their heavy equipment and machinery. They should also check for failing or damaged parts. Another important requirement for such companies is to train the workers on safety precautions and proper handling of machinery and equipment. Therefore, if you suffer injuries leading to amputation, an offshore attorney can help you to get compensation.
Traumatic brain injuries
There are various risks when working on a ship. Some of the injuries can prevent you from working again for the rest of your life. Whether it’s employer’s negligence or the general dangers related to these jobs, such as slippery working environment, your wellbeing is always at risk.
Offshore traumatic brain injuries can come because of insufficient training, defective equipment, falling equipment, or you can be hit by heavy equipment. Others include assault by fellow workers, using improper equipment, falling while onboard, and slippery oil on the deck.
If brain injuries happen because of any of the above causes, then an offshore injury attorney can hold the company accountable for their actions. Even simple negligence such as failing to put a caution sign for the slippery deck, the employees deserve compensation in case of injuries caused by the accident.
A maritime burn injury is another serious and common type of injury. This is because it can be painful, and it can even prevent you from ever working again. Offshore workers such as oil rig employees usually handle electrical equipment, hot substances like oil, flammable chemicals, and gas. Because of this, they are always exposed to the risks of explosions, fires, or electrical accidents. Therefore, the lack of proper safety equipment or training on the right safety precautions can lead to burning injuries.
This type of injury can be difficult for you to recover from, leaving you jobless for a long time. Thanks to the Jones Act, you can receive financial compensation from your employer if you sustain this kind of injury. Ships have a confined space, making it easy for the fire to spread pretty fast. This results in severe burns which can take longer to recover. Here are some of the causes of maritime burns:
- Engine room fire. Engine equipment that doesn’t work properly can cause fire and cause fire accidents.
- Explosion. The ship’s fuel and that used for on-board machinery and equipment can cause explosions that can ignite a fire.
- Equipment failure. Engine and equipment utilized on a ship can fail and cause a fire.
- Kitchen accidents. Fire can come from the ship’s galley. This fire can cause burn injuries, and the risks are high because of the limited space on a ship.
- Electrical. Most of the vessels feature a generator room, which is where you find more electrical systems. Improper room maintenance can lead to fire accidents which can cause burn injuries.
Having an offshore job might be attractive to some people, but this type of job comes with some risks. Exposure to toxic substances is often overlooked, though it’s one of the major causes of injuries. Offshore workers have to handle oil and natural gases which can be hazardous. Most of these workers sustain lung diseases after inhaling dangerous chemical fumes. This is a disease that relates to the following:
- Lung tissue disease. This happens when your lung tissue structure is affected. It leads to inflammation and scarring, which prevents the lungs from expanding properly. Sarcoidosis and pulmonary fibrosis are some examples of lung tissue disease.
- Airway disease. This disease affects your tubes causing constriction of the airways. Examples of airway disease include bronchiectasis and asthma.
- Silicosis. Breathing small particles of silica causes this lung disease. It’s a mineral found in rocks, sand, and mineral ores. Offshore workers who utilize sandblasters get exposure to silica dust. Unfortunately, Silicosis is carcinogenic, meaning it can cause lung cancer, tuberculosis, bronchitis, and other severe diseases.
- Lung circulation disease. When the blood vessels in your lungs experience clotting, inflammation or scarring, perhaps you have this disease. As a result, your lungs will fail to inhale oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. Long-term effects include heart function problems.
Exposure to offshore toxic chemicals can cause severe diseases. Hence, you must always be careful while working on ships especially tankers. These ships usually load dangerous chemicals, such as benzene, gasoline, toluene, and other types of refined petrochemicals. Prolonged direct exposure to these chemical fumes, the product, or vapors can lead to serious health problems.
Because some chemicals can dissolve easily, you can inhale their fumes without your knowledge. If you have an offshore work, you risk being exposed to these toxic fumes. This can cause severe damage to your internal organs, such as the mouth, throat, and stomach. Some of the diseases caused by inhaling the fumes include Multiple Myeloma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer.
Any injury you might have sustained due to the above-mentioned causes or death while working, your best chance of getting compensation is by hiring an offshore injury attorney. The attorney will analyze the circumstances leading to your injury and will help you understand the available options. It’s important to fight for your legal rights regardless of the extent of the injuries.
How to hire the best offshore injury attorney
The maritime law covers seamen injured while working and family members of seamen killed while working. Micheal P. Fleming and Associates are passionate about getting you the right care and compensation that you deserve. Based in Texas, the offshore injury attorneys will handle personal injury claims caused by offshore accidents.
Whether the offshore accident happened in the Gulf of Mexico, Houston, Galveston or anywhere in Texas, you are assured of having an attorney who can file the proper claim on your behalf. There is nothing better than having the best support in your time of need, this is why the Lawyers for offshore injuries make sure that they help you with litigation while recovering from your injuries.
The attorneys at Micheal P. Fleming can assist you with your claim regardless of the State of where you come from. Since maritime injury cases can sometimes be tricky, you should always go for attorneys who know the applicable maritime law. This is the only way you can be assured of getting the compensation to help you recover from your injuries.
If your loved one has died or injured as a result of an offshore accident on a ship, barge, or offshore facility, contact an offshore attorney today. In case of injuries, avoid signing any papers until you have an understanding of your legal rights and compensation entitlement.