Your Rights Under Maritime Law

What’s the most dangerous occupation in the United States? Just about any job that involves working on an offshore oil or gas rig. In an April 2013 issue of “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the fatality rate for employees in this industry was seven times higher than that of other U.S. workers. If you or a loved one has been injured working in the offshore oil or gas industry, consulting with an experienced maritime injury lawyer such as Simon & O’Rourke Law Firm P.C. may be able to help safeguard your legal rights and could be the first step in assisting you in attaining compensation.

What Legal Protections Do Offshore Workers Have?

So far as workplace safety issues go, offshore workers often operate in a kind of grey zone. The jurisdiction of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) only extends to three miles outside the U.S. coastline. Outside the three-mile zone, the U.S. Coast Guard assumes oversight for worker safety regulations.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is also known as the Jones Act, gives seamen the right to bring civil actions against a negligent employer. However, many workers on offshore drilling rigs may not meet the legal requirements to be counted as seamen. In order to be a seaman, an individual must spend a significant amount of time working on an actual vessel.

Fortunately, there are laws that protect the rights of workers who don’t spend a significant amount of time on boats. The 1927 Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act was originally enacted to provide specific temporary compensations to any employees injured on U.S. navigable waters. Those protections were extended to include non-seamen working on submerged lands under U.S. jurisdiction by the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act (OCSLA.) OCSLA also increased the types of benefits to which such injured workers might be entitled.

 

Obtaining OCSLA Benefits

Filing for OCSLA benefits involves a lot of paperwork, and that’s why partnering with an experienced maritime injury attorney can work to your advantage. While you’re focusing on recovering from your injury, your attorney will notify your employer and do the other work necessary to get the OCSLA compensation process underway. Two forms are necessary to begin this process:

• LS-201: Notice of Employees’ Injury or Death: LS-201 has a strict statute of limitations; if it isn’t filled out within 30 days, you may be ineligible to receive benefits.

• LS-1: Request for Examination and/or Treatment: LS-1 is your authorization for medical treatment. In the event of an emergency, you can see a physician before you fill out the form, but you will have to pay out of pocket. Once the form has been filed and approved, you will be reimbursed.