There are many kinds of drilling rigs, including those for exploring and retrieving oil, gas or other minerals, or for drilling water wells. But regardless of whether it is inshore or offshore, working on a drilling platform is dangerous. Despite numerous procedures and regulations, drilling rig workers face injuries from gas leaks, toxic exposure, falling pipes, and blowouts among other mishaps, most of which are preventable.
These types of incidents can occur because of pressure to increase production and unrealistic deadlines that require overtime work hours. Drilling rig accidents occur for many reasons, including:
- Lack of supervision
- Inadequate training
- Worn or failing equipment
- Unsafe procedures
- Use of wrong tools
- Climbing to unguarded areas without adequate safety gear
The laws that apply to a worker who is injured or killed in a drilling rig operation vary depending on the type and location of the accident. Generally, if the accident occurred on a fixed offshore drilling platform, laws of the adjacent state apply. If, however, the injured worker was on the deck of a boat unloading supplies or equipment, maritime law, sometimes referred to as the Jones Act, will more likely apply.
If the accident took place on an onshore platform or a fixed offshore platform within a state's territorial waters, the injured worker may be entitled to workers' compensation in accordance with the respective state's statutes. This would typically preclude the injured worker from receiving compensation for damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life unless a party besides his or her employer is responsible for the injuries or death. Such a party may be the manufacturer of equipment the failure of which contributed to the accident.
If the accident took place on a platform located in federal waters, the injured worker may be entitled to damages from his or her employer under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA also provides protection in other situations in which a state's workers' compensation may not apply.
Drill rig accident attorneys tend to specialize in drill rig accident cases and represent either the injured worker or the family of a worker who was killed on the job. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a drilling rig accident, make sure that your legal representative understands all of the laws that may be applicable.