Ryan Zehl & Associates, PC is a Houston offshore injury lawyer is responsible for providing legal defense and solutions in civil lawsuits. The majority of offshore injury cases are handled on the basis of the negligence doctrine. The lack of proper safety measures and shoddy maintenance practices contribute to explosions, fires and other accidents. These cases are instigated for purposes of seeking compensation. The doctrine of negligence considers that not all accidents are avoidable. The attorney’s job is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant could have acted differently to prevent the accident and injury.
Offshore maritime jobs are some of the most dangerous due to the nature of operating environments. Offshore facilities like natural gas wells and oil rigs present a higher risk of injury owing to negligence by workers, employees and third party vessels or aircraft operators. In addition, workers are faced with risk of injury due to defective equipment or harsh weather conditions. The majority of accidents in these environments involve slips, being struck by falling objects, exposure to toxic chemicals or falling overboard. These accidents can cause traumatic head injuries, scarring, broken bones, burns or smoke inhalation.
Victims of injuries may be permanently disabled and risk losing earning potential. Specific laws cover these cases to ensure that victims receive sufficient compensation commensurate with the nature of injuries and impact on livelihood. The laws allow injured parties to file claims against wrongdoers, including fellow crew members, vessel owners or employers if there are grounds to prove negligence. Vessel or aircraft owners and rig operators are liable if the injuries are caused by a lack of proper maintenance or adherence to safety measures.
Workmen on stationary natural gas wells and oil rigs are covered by one of two protection programs, including the federal government’s LHWCA and state worker compensation plans. The coverage depends largely on jurisdiction and the offshore site’s location. The federal government’s LHWCA program provides protection to workers injured in United States waters and adjoining areas. Stricter safety regulations have contributed to a reduction in the number of accidents. However, a variety of factors still make the offshore work environment unsafe. Rain and snow often cause injuries due to slippery decks. Operation of heavy machinery at sea can be hazardous. For seamen to successfully claim compensation, they need the assistance of an experienced Houston offshore injury lawyer.
Maritime electrical accidents and injuries
Maritime vessels use electrical power to keep a wide variety of systems and fixtures running, including communication systems, radars and automatic watertight doors. However, the combination of electrical power and a watery operating environment translates to considerable hazards. This exposes workers to the possibility of severe injuries caused by electrocution. Large modern ships require up to three generators to produce sufficient power on long voyages. The power is typically controlled by a main switchboard located in the central machinery compartment or engine room. In addition, the vessels feature an emergency switchboard. The ship’s head electrical engineer oversees the maintenance of the complex systems.
The electricians face significant risks when handling wiring. Negligence by fellow workers or sudden accidents can lead to serious injuries. The risk extends to all passengers, particularly when an exposed live wire comes into contact with water. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) states that currents of 5 mA have the capacity to cause involuntary reactions that lead to considerable injuries. Stronger currents pose a more severe threat since they lead to loss of muscular control or induce respiratory arrest. Victims of maritime electrical accidents can seek assistance from a Houston offshore injury lawyer in order to file lawsuits.
Maritime aviation injuries
The majority of offshore facilities use seaplanes and helicopters to transport workers and supplies. However, the maritime aviation comes with risks that can result in minor or severe injuries. In some cases, accidents occur due to negligence or lack of proper maintenance of aircraft. Mechanical or piloting errors often have disastrous consequences. Both fixed and rotary wing aircraft are susceptible to crashes due to negligence, whether over water or land. Poor training of aircraft crews or use of sub-standard spare parts qualify as grounds for attorneys to claim negligence against the operators. Lawsuits are still possible even if an aircraft crashes in bad weather. Such a scenario arises if investigators prove that the pilot could have avoided the bad weather or failed to anticipate the bad weather due to malfunctioning instruments. Some of the common injuries caused by marine accidents include amputated limbs, cuts, burns, abdominal injuries, pelvic fractures, hypothermia and spinal injuries. When it comes to compensation, the Jones Act views certain airmen hired by companies operating offshore facilities as seamen. As such, aviators are allowed to claim compensation if they have grounds to believe an accident was caused by incompetence and negligence.
Vessel cooks and stewards injuries
Although the focus of attention is usually placed on fishermen and longshoremen, the risks of operating in harsh environment also faces cooks and stewards. According to the Jones Act, this group of workers fall under the seamen category. They can suffer injuries due to a variety of reasons, including lack of proper safety training and an unsafe working environment. The kitchen areas can be hazardous if ship owners neglect to implement solid safety measures. Many stewards and cooks suffer injuries due to slippery floors, lethargy caused by long working hours, defective galley equipment, poor hygiene and electrical accidents. In some instances, the failure to train kitchen staff can have tragic consequences. A steward carrying bowls using both hands while moving up and down stairs is a danger to himself and others. If injured, the employer can be held liable because proper safety training is aimed at informing new staff about the unique risks associated with working on vessels.