You do not need to be told how much life on an offshore oil rig differs from the one normally experienced in Manhattan. Having worked with many who have been injured during the course of such a career, we here at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP can attest to the unique dangers oil platform workers face. Yet while you may not know it, the greatest risk you may encounter while doing such work may not be on the rig at all, but rather during your ride out to it.
According to accident data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of fatalities related to offshore oil drilling is transportation accidents. Of the fatalities reviewed in this research, 75 percent were due to helicopter accidents (which may not be surprising, given that such vehicles are typically the primary method used to transport workers to oil platforms). Mechanical failures and bad weather were listed as the most common causes of such accidents.
Knowing now that much of the risk related to your work occurs during transport, the question the question then becomes who covers any expenses if you are involved in a helicopter crash while heading out to an oil platform? The Jones Act is meant to cover injury cases that occur on U.S. territorial waters. Plus, while you may not necessarily be a sailor, working on an oil rig can certainly be classified as being “in the service of the vessel.”
Another potential method of relief may come through the Death on the High Seas Act. This Act is meant to cover both shipping and aircraft accidents that occur on international waters (which begin at between 3 to 12 nautical miles out to sea). More information regarding coverage for oil platform accidents can be found here on our site.