According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), over the past decade, there have been 23 fatalities and over 2,000 injuries on drilling rigs and other offshore structures.

Offshore structures, such as drillings rigs, can be an extremely dangerous work environment for oil and gas workers. Over time, the increased production activity has resulted in larger numbers of people working in close quarters with others as a way to maximize profits. The more people that are on these offshore sites, the more likely a serious accident is to occur. 

Some of the most common offshore structure dangers include:

  • Cable or block breaks
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Grease/oil on the deck
  • Damaged grating, pipe tongs
  • Cathead slips
  • Falling objects
  • Negligent equipment operating
  • Wrongful death
  • Offshore explosions
  • Unseaworthiness claims
  • Other negligence

Common Offshore Injuries

Offshore work is both physically demanding and dangerous, and severe injuries are all too common. Injuries that offshore employees face include head injuries, fractures, and electrical shock and, at times, can even be fatal. Here at The Cochran Firm, we represent maritime workers in many different types of offshore injuries, including:

  • Head Injuries - A sudden blow from a pipe swinging above the head, from an explosion, or from falling equipment can cause a traumatic brain injury, varying from a mild concussion to long-term disability. A traumatic brain injury can adversely affect your ability to make money and provide for your loved ones. Falls from heights also can cause open head wounds and closed head injuries, leading to the loss of balance, reduced attention span, double vision, and even slurred speech.
  • Back Injuries - The heavy lifting and hard labor aboard a ship or oil rig can result in major back injuries requiring surgical treatment. Falls from unsafe balconies or unsecured ladders can cause back injuries, including spinal cord and nerve damage. A major back injury can cause a maritime worker the inability to work for a prolonged period of time.
  • Burn Injuries - Malfunctioning safety equipment, the build-up of combustible fumes in unventilated areas, welding accidents, and loss of well control can all trigger explosions and fires, resulting in severe burns. Generally speaking, human mistake and negligence are the causes of serious burn injuries. No matter the cause, a burn injury can cause disfigurement, require plastic surgery, and result in irreversible disabilities. Offshore employees are frequently out of work for months after a severe burn injury.
  • Limb Loss - Losing a limb is a life-altering injury. Many maritime-related amputation accidents include cables under stress or mooring lines. An employee's hand can become caught in the line as it coils onto a winch drum. A deckhand can get their leg caught and squashed between two barges, sometimes requiring a prosthetic.
  • Wrongful Death- Each year, maritime employees pass away due to falls, explosions, electrocutions, and other accidents caused by the negligence of an employer. The maritime injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm know what to look for to identify employer negligence and build a strong case for full compensation for the victim's family. If you have lost a loved one working on an offshore rig due to the negligence of another, you have the right to seek legal compensation for your loved one's death. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

What Should I Do If I Am Injured at Sea?

If you find yourself in a maritime accident, it is essential that you act rapidly to protect your rights. Below you will find a brief guide on what to do if you are injured at sea. The following actions are crucial for maritime accidents:

  1. Report and document the accident - It is important that you let your manager or captain know directly following the accident that you have been injured. Jones Act or Maritime Law requires the injured party to report any work-related injury within seven days; however, don't wait that long. The insurance company may assume that since you did not report the accident immediately, it wasn't serious, so don't wait. If you get injured while working and believe that your injuries need medical attention or have even the slightest chance of causing you to be unable to work, report it immediately.
  2. Seek medical attention - The law requires the company you are employed by to see that you receive medical treatment for your injuries. If you are at sea and your injuries are severe, the ship should have the Coast Guard medevac you to a hospital. If you are far out at sea or in international waters, a Coast Guard helicopter may be able to get you as soon as you are within range of the United States. The ship is able to talk to a physician by phone or radio if your condition is severe. And, if you are in a foreign nation, your employer is responsible for getting you proper medical treatment and getting you back home at their expense. Your employer must pay for all medical treatment that you need if you are injured or become ill while working on the vessel.
  3. Hire a Doctor of Your Choice - You have the right to choose your own medical professional. You may be tempted to choose a medical professional advised by your employer or your company's insurance company; however, we suggest you see a medical professional of your choice for an impartial evaluation. Make certain that the physician or healthcare professional documents everything. Your medical records will be utilized as proof if a claim needs to be submitted.
  4. Follow medical professionals' orders - Follow all your physician's suggestions. Do not skip any visits with your medical professional, as appointments that you blow off send a message to the insurance provider and the employer that you have fully recovered or that your injuries were not serious. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to send investigators to monitor your progress without you knowing. They might take pictures or videos to keep track of your actions while you recover from your injuries.
  5. Do not give a recorded declaration - Never, ever, give a recorded statement. The insurance provider is in the business of making as much money as possible for their shareholders, and their intention is to pay out as little on your claim as they can. The insurance company is not working for your benefit, no matter how pleasant they are when they contact you. They will ask leading questions and produce their own story about your accident, which oftentimes are not accurate.
  6. Speak with a maritime attorney to understand each of your rights - It is crucial to have an attorney that is familiar with Maritime Law and who is going to fight for you. By consulting an attorney, you will have a better understanding of your rights and the options that you have. Understanding your rights and your employer's obligation to pay certain benefits is the crucial baseline in making choices on how to proceed.

Most maritime accidents are preventable by adequate maintenance, training, and procedures. Maritime and sea laws are in place to guarantee that injured people have a way to recuperate damages from the responsible parties when injuries are the result of carelessness, neglect, improper procedures, defective equipment, or unseaworthiness. It is important that you maintain legal representation if you feel any of your rights have been overlooked or violated.

Maritime law, Admiralty law, and Jones Act laws are complex, and it can be hard to determine which laws are applicable to your specific case. If you are unsure of which law your accident will fall under, contact our experienced maritime injury attorneys today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

Four Methods of Compensation

Depending on the conditions of your offshore accident, you may be awarded compensation under either federal maritime law or state personal injury law. Our experienced maritime attorneys will be able to guide you through this difficult process and help you determine what rights you have specific to the conditions of your offshore injury.

The four methods of compensation are:

  • The Jones Act
  • The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA)
  • Longshoremen & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
  • General Maritime Law

The Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also referred to as the Jones Act, is a federal statute that extends the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) to seamen. The Jones Act enables seamen that have been injured while employed at sea to bring a personal injury claim against their employers. Under this act, the injured employee can bring an action in either federal or state court. While general maritime law does not include the right to trial by jury, the Jones Act does. Although some claims can be settled during pre-litigation negotiations, the only way you can preserve your rights to pursue a claim is to file a lawsuit. 

The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA)

The Death on High Seas Act (DOHSA) states that when someone passes away because of either a wrongful act, negligence, or default that occurred while on high seas beyond three nautical miles from the shore of the United States, a civil lawsuit can be brought against the individual or vessel liable. The action will solely benefit the deceased's spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative.

Longshoremen & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that offers the payment of compensation, medical care, and professional rehabilitation services to workers disabled from on the job injuries that happen on the navigable waters of the United States or in adjacent areas customarily used in the loading, unloading, repairing or building of a vessel. The LHWCA also offers payment of survivor benefits to dependents if the work injury causes or contributes to the death of the employee. These benefits are normally paid by the self-insured employer or by a private insurance provider on behalf of the employer. The term "injury" consists of occupational diseases, hearing loss, and illnesses occurring out of employment. The LHWCA covers all employees that hold traditional maritime positions, like ship-repairs, shipbuilders, ship-breakers, harbor construction workers, and longshore workers.

General Maritime Law

General maritime laws were initially created to develop the rights of maritime workers prior to the Jones Act, or the Longshore and Harbor Employees' Compensation Act were created. Its fundamental provisions make sure that maritime workers are given general living expenses and medical costs after suffering an injury and that the ship owners supply a safe workplace.

General maritime law does not only cover injuries but also illnesses you may get while on the job. Unlike the Jones Act, which states your injury needs to be the outcome of unseaworthiness or carelessness, under general maritime law, the accident could be your fault or nobody's fault, and you may still be entitled to Maintenance and Cure.

Maintenance and Cure

Under general maritime law, an employer is required to provide an injured maritime worker with Maintenance and Cure benefits till they are able to work again or have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

"Maintenance" describes an employer's responsibility to provide an injured employee with food and lodging while the seaman is off the vessel and unable to work due to the injury or illness. "Cure" refers to doctors and hospital bills, diagnostic tests and scans, prescriptions, and rehab and therapy.

You do not have to prove fault to recuperate Maintenance and Cure. When filing a claim, the same restriction periods apply as a Jones Act negligence claim.


The word "unseaworthiness" is a term in the realm of maritime law, and its significance in maritime law differs slightly from its significance in the marine industry.

Under maritime law, a seaworthy vessel is a ship whose hull, equipment, and crew are reasonably appropriate in design, upkeep, and character to perform their desired functions in the operation of the ship.

Unseaworthiness does not mean that the vessel is unable to be sailed or navigated. A vessel is unseaworthy in regards to a seaman if it does not supply him with safe and appropriate appliances with which to perform his work and if it does not offer him a safe place in which to work.

The injured seaman does not need to show that the entire vessel was unseaworthy or that it was in danger of sinking. All that the injured worker needs to prove is that some condition or aspect of the vessel, equipment, or crew was not fairly fit for its intended function and that they were injured as a result. For example, if the engine breaks down and the vessel is sitting in the water until the engine can be fixed, the captain may believe that it is unseaworthy, but that does not make the vessel unseaworthy for maritime law purposes.

If a seaman is injured or dies because of an unseaworthy condition, the seaman (or his surviving family) will be entitled to compensation from the owner of the vessel. The types of damages that will be available in an unseaworthiness claim include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income (present and future), compensation for disability, and other damages under maritime law.

What Damages Are Covered?

There are many different types of damages that may be covered under your maritime injury case. These damages are different for each individual case, but most compensation for maritime injuries includes:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional suffering
  • Disfigurement (in appropriate situations)
  • Medical bills
  • Living expenses
  • Lost earning, as well as future lost earning ability

Maritime injury law is very complex. It is in your best interest to consult an experienced maritime attorney in order to receive the maximum compensation for your injury. If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in an offshore accident, please contact The Cochran Firm today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

Common Errors Seaman Make With Settlement

As soon as you've been injured on the job, insurance adjusters and even your employer will immediately begin the process of trying to pay the least amount possible for your injuries. It's important to take your time when signing and filling out forms, as you can be misinformed to sign something that prevents you from getting what you are entitled to. For example, if you have been injured on the job, you have the right to maintenance and cure regardless of the way the accident occurred and who is at fault. In addition, you may also have rights under general maritime law for pain, suffering, lost revenues, living expenses, and more.

Insurance providers, even in the maritime industry, are known for trying to settle low with injured employees and conserve as much money as they possibly can. An experienced maritime injury attorney is aware of these techniques and will ensure that all your rights are being fulfilled before you sign any documentation. Additionally, there is a chance that your injuries may get blamed on pre-existing conditions or because of fault of your own, which oftentimes gets employers off the hook for liability. These circumstances are among a few of the methods that employers and insurance providers perform in order to get out of paying you what you truly deserve. As a result, you must completely understand how general maritime law works and what you are rightfully entitled to before you sign any documentation. In fact, it is in your best interest to have your attorney look over all of your documents prior to signing anything in order to even the playing field against your employer and the insurance provider.

Proven Maritime Results

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm have secured over $35 billion in verdicts, settlements, and judgments for our clients. While no claim is guaranteed to result in millions of dollars, we can guarantee that our attorneys will do whatever it takes to make sure you are compensated for every cent you are due. We have helped clients across the country receive the justice they deserve:

  • $5.98 Million Verdict against Xcaret and eco-archaeological park in Cancun, Mexico, on behalf of the family and estate of the passenger aboard a Carnival cruise line ship.
  • Undisclosed Verdict/Settlement against a drilling rig and an oil company when a Jones Act seaman fell from an elevated platform of a semi-submersible drilling rig. The 46-year-old plaintiff was restricted to sedentary activities after undergoing multiple surgeries on his wrist and arthroscopic surgery on both knees. 

Why Choose The Cochran Firm

Johnnie Cochran had long dreamed of creating a national law firm of men and women from all races, religions, creeds, and backgrounds to show how well we could all work together to make the world a better place. When Mr. Cochran started The Cochran Firm, his mission was “a journey to justice.” Today, with more than 35 offices across more than 20 states, the attorneys at The Cochran Firm work every day to fulfill that dream and continue that mission by working for our clients with the same work ethic and dedication to justice exemplified by Mr. Johnnie Cochran himself.

The Cochran Firm is a diverse group of highly skilled and experienced lawyers that are dedicated to bringing high-quality representation to injured people and their families. Our experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most recognized and successful attorneys in the country. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. Our attorneys at The Cochran Firm know how to fight for you.

Here at The Cochran Firm, each of our attorneys is ready to help victims receive the maximum compensation and financial recovery for all of their pain and suffering. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided.

You need the help of an experienced maritime attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. The Cochran Firm’s results have been well documented and demonstrated both in the courtroom and at settlement conferences. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.

If you’re looking for an experienced maritime attorney to help you pursue justice for your offshore injury, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today. We serve the entire country with offices in many major U.S. cities.