Maritime Fires & Explosions Accident Lawyer
Maritime vessels and the men and women who work on them are susceptible to a range of accidents. From falling overboard to getting caught in machinery to fires and explosions, maritime workers are at high risk for some of the deadliest injuries in the working world. Unfortunately, these types of injuries are not uncommon with maritime workers. Maritime employees work long hours, leading to fatigue, which leads to mistakes.
There are very few work environments where even simple mistakes can result in deadly accidents, but maritime work is one such environment. In 2013, there were 146 separate fire and explosion incidents, each resulting in multiple fatalities. While most of these accidents occur in the oil and gas industry, there are cases of fishing vessels catching fire, as well. Your occupation will determine how you can recover compensation for your injuries.
Causes of Fires and Explosions
The oil and gas industry is rife with fire safety hazards. While there are handfuls of safety standards in place, they are not always followed. The most common causes of fires and explosions are:
- Crane Accidents
- Cargo Ship Accidents
- Cruise Ship Accidents
- Commercial Fishing Injury Accidents
- Barge Accidents
- Dredge Accidents
- Derrick Accidents
- Drill Rig Accidents
- Jack-Up Rig Accidents
Most explosions occur when a blowout happens. A blowout is a fire or explosion, which leads to a buildup of pressure that releases oil or gas. When the oil or gas is released, it catches on fire and spreads rapidly, resulting in one of the deadliest accidents in the oil and gas industry. Injuries in an accident like this include:
- Severe burns
- Brain damage
- Spinal Injuries
- Loss of limbs or digits
How Can I Get Compensation for My Medical Expenses?
Depending on the type of vessel you work on, you will either be protected under the Jones Act or the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. The two Acts are very different, but both were enacted for the same reason: to give maritime workers the right to seek compensation for their injuries. The Jones Act covers seamen who spend most of their time working on a “vessel in navigation.” While this does not mean the vessel has to be moving at the moment, it does have to have the ability to move.
Crewmen and captains who work on commercial fishing vessels or as merchant marines are covered under this Act. An oil rig worker, however, is not. This is because an oil-drilling platform is stationary and unable to move on its own. Oilrig workers are instead protected under the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA works similarly to a traditional workers’ comp claim. However, the LHWCA offers more advantages than a regular workers’ comp claim.
Why Bother With LHWCA Instead of Workers’ Comp?
Under the LHWCA, injured maritime workers are eligible to receive up to 66 2/3% of their average weekly pay. Traditional workers’ comp claims only award up to 60%. Additionally, LHWCA claims entitle an injured maritime worker to permanent partial disability, whereas regular workers’ comp claims do not. However, maritime workers must pass two eligibility tests to be qualified for an LHWCA claim. The status test, which identifies the type of work you perform, and the situs test, which identifies where you perform that work.
What if the Insurer Won’t Pay?
If the insurer refuses to pay your benefits, or only offers to pay an inadequate amount, you need to file an LHWCA claim. You will need to go to a hearing in front of a judge. This is just like a regular lawsuit in court, so the help of a competent personal injury attorney is highly advisable. At Daspit Law Firm, we have years of experience in oil and gas industry personal injury lawsuits. Based in Houston, Texas, we represent clients in Corpus Christi, Gulfport, Victoria, Beaumont, New Iberia, Lafayette, New Orleans, and coastal areas of the United States. Contact us today to begin building your case.