As someone working on a seagoing vessel you assume a dangerous job and the risk of having a really serious injury while you’re away at sea. Most of these injuries could take away your livelihood or permanently diminish your life’s quality. Fortunately, if you know your rights in this regard you have some recourse if necessary.

Handling Offshore Injuries

When you’re injured in an offshore accident, you’ll want to hire a good lawyer who specializes in admiralty law, which is also known as maritime law. This is a distinct body of law governing maritime activities. These are activities that use the sea to produce an end result. Some examples include transportation, war, and territorial boundaries.

This is a very complex area of the law that’s governed by various federal statutes. These are very different from other types of injury cases because of the distinct risks employees encounter in this specific environment. Thanks to maritime law employees are protected from negligence when personal injuries or other types of accidents occur. Other types of cases covered by this law include those involving drilling rigs, barges, and other vessels including oil platforms. Transport helicopters originating in international and foreign waters and traveling on U.S. waterways are also covered by this law.

Introducing the Jones Act

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, give you certain legal rights. These protect your health and livelihood. Under this law you’re entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer if you’re injured by your fellow crew members’ or the ship owner’s negligence. If you’re killed because of this, the Jones Act allows your surviving spouse or dependents to file a lawsuit on your behalf.

When you or your family seek compensation because you’re injured while working on a barge, container ship, tugboat, crew boat, dredge, cargo ship, fishing vessel, or any other type of moveable vessel and the court resolves the case in your favor your employer must give you compensation for your health, family, and livelihood. This compensation must pay for your lost wages, medical expenses, and even for your non-economic damages.

History Behind the Jones Act

The Jones Act does a lot for anyone who’s suffered an offshore injury. However, it wasn’t always there to protect them. Before 1920 the law didn’t exist and many people suffered from abhorable working and living conditions on board ships. This led to many injuries and other issues that weren’t corrected until Senator Wesley L. Jones of Washington proposed this act. Under this law boating, companies must now maintain good, safe working conditions for their employees. This went a long way towards bolstering the growth of both foreign and domestic marine commerce.

Offshore Injury Types Covered by the Jones Act

There are several different offshore injury types covered by the Jones Act. Some of the most common types include:

Rig injuries occur because of the job’s harsh and often difficult conditions and include everything from burns to broken bones, paralysis, and even death

Deck accidents occur when you’re struck by a falling or swinging object and often result in the loss of a finger or other body part

Equipment failures are inevitable and can result in burns, electric shock, or the loss of body parts

Fires, explosions, and collisions can lead to burn injuries and fatalities

Jack-up rig accidents including electrical fires and gas leaks which cause burns and other serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries

Tugboat and barge injuries occur because of tripping and falling and are often severe

Fortunately, the Jones Act covers each of these different types of an offshore injury.


Although you probably understand that your job as a worker on a seagoing vessel is risky and dangerous, it should make you feel somewhat better knowing that this law is in place to protect you. Hopefully nothing ever happens and you never need to use it, but if you do, at least you’re protected.

The ocean could be really dangerous, especially for offshore oil rig workers. A single accident can make you physically impaired permanently. To safeguard the interest of oil rig workers, the Merchant Marine law has been passed to compensate the workers and restore justice. As a worker, you may want to know your rights in case you become a victim of a ghastly offshore explosion while performing your duties. It is here a reliable lawyer dedicated to offshore drilling rig accidents come into the picture to help out. However, you should find the best lawyer for your case to make sure you receive what you are supposed to by the law.

Do some research

Many folks choose the very first attorney they come across. However, you shouldn’t hire the first Jones act lawyer you stumble upon in your hunt for a legal representative. You ought to carry out some research to find the right attorney to represent your case in the court. By picking a lawyer who has substantial experience in the case, you stand a better chance of winning. In cases of offshore rig accidents, it is the attorney with quite a number of cases in his/her hands who proves to be the best lawyer for handling the dispute.

When it comes to searching for lawyers, use every possible resource to enlist competent and experienced lawyers. You do not want to feel sorry for not exploring a particular handy resource for spotting an ideal attorney for your particular case. Explore your contacts, relatives, local directories and newspapers to list out reputed lawyers. Almost all lawyers have their online presence; so be sure you check the World Wide Web to find lawyers.

Choose a lawyer who has immense knowledge of the Merchant Marine Act

Although many lawyers offer their services to cases of accidents associated with an offshore explosion, all of them are not worth considering. You will only waste your time and money if you hire a lawyer who hardly handles maritime related cases. It is best to concentrate on lawyers who have in-depth knowledge of the Jones Act. A lawyer who specializes in offshore rig accident cases is much better than other lawyers.

Compare and choose the lawyer smartly

After enlisting the names of reliable Jones Act lawyers, you may want to shop smartly to select the right one. First of all, check the work portfolio and certifications of lawyers in your check list. Focus on attorneys who have a certificate in Jones Act. Aside from this, look for lawyers who have battled a good number of cases related to offshore rig accidents.

Now obtain detailed quotes from each of these lawyers. Also, check online reviews and find out what users are saying about these attorneys. In accordance with reviews and testimonies, concentrate on attorneys who have a better track record with maximum positive reviews. Now compare the services, charges and success rate of these attorneys minutely. Finally, settle with the lawyer who can ensure that you will get the best compensation and favorable justice.

Bottom line

The ocean offers a wealth of opportunities to businesses as well as workers. However, the same ocean can pose serious health threats, especially to offshore drilling rig workers. However, you can subside some of the effects of an offshore explosion by getting compensation for your injuries. Just be sure you follow the above advice when looking for a lawyer. With proper research and guidance, you could pick the right attorney to get justice and compensation for your injuries and sufferings.

According to the Arizona Geological Survey a single oil drilling venture costs between $400,000 – $ 1,000,000. Each temporary hole that a company digs costs between $8,000 – $150,000 per day. Clearly, offshore drilling is an expensive venture. It’s also a tedious one that involves geologists and environmental specialists working together. Fortunately, many great advancements were made so that oil drilling isn’t as challenging today as it was in the past.

Where Offshore Oil Drilling Occurs

Although many of us are familiar with oil beds located on land or in shallow bodies of water, you should know they’re also located deep beneath the ocean too. Reaching these sites is dangerous, but it’s also very rewarding. With this in mind, those who are drilling for oil must be both accurate and careful. Failure to act in this regard often leads to a deadly aftermath for the worker and the environment they’re working in. This is why so many rules and regulations exist. They’re established by the government.

Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU)

MODU uses sonic equipment for drilling oil. The equipment discovers areas where it thinks oil deposits exist. It then drills for the oil before other production oils go to work capturing the oil. When this happens miners set a permanent oil production arrangement in place instead of the MODU.

There are four main types of MODU. These include:

Submersible MODU is a barge that rests 30 — 35 feet above the ocean floor. From here it extends steel posts and drills for oil. This only works in still water.

Jackup MODU sit on top of a floating barge. A ship then tows the barge towards the drilling site. Once it reaches the location, they place the jackup on top of the drilling site. From here it extends its legs out onto the ocean floor. A platform rises up and drilling occurs.

Drill ship MODU are ships with a drill on their top deck. These use propellers and anchors to drill down into the earth’s surface. They even work in deep water environments.

Semisubmersible MODU float on the ocean’s surface. They have both a navigation and a propulsion system used for navigating drilling sites. This system is fully computerized so it’s completely dependent on technology.

Allowing a MODU to drill deep into the ocean’s floor in search of oil is both costly and risky. However, when miners discover a good oil deposit the rewards far outweigh the risks.

Working on an oil rig, drilling for oil and gas offshore, is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States today. Unfortunately, these risks are unavoidable. Oftentimes an offshore incident occurs because people are working 12-hour shifts each day with very combustible materials on a small platform with cranes swinging heavy materials around over their head.

An Example of an Offshore Incident: the Deepwater Horizon oil Spill

One very well-known offshore incident was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 and left oil spewing into the area’s water for 87 days. A flawed well plan that didn’t include enough cement between the 7-inch production casing and the 9 7/8-inch protection casing caused this offshore incident. When this happened 11 platform workers died. Although the Coast Guard spent three days searching for their bodies, they were never found. An additional 17 people were also injured.

According to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier BP was mostly to blame for this offshore incident. He also said that Transocean, owner of the drilling rig, and Haliburton, the cement contractor, were blameworthy. As such, BP paid out over $20 billion for this offshore incident – only a small fraction of the $61.6 billion needed for cleaning up the spill itself. This was the largest settlement with a single entity in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice. Somehow, miraculously, BP is still in business today.


Over the course of history there have been many incidents caused by offshore drilling. BP is simply the biggest and so it’s the best known offshore incident. Anyone who works in this industry knows and understands just how dangerous their job is. Fortunately, the United States also realizes this as well. For this reason, they’ve enacted the Jones Act ((39 Stat. 545, c. 416 a.k.a. the Merchant Marine Act of 1920).

This federal statute protects anyone working in the maritime industry today. As a cabotage law it covers anyone working on any ship conducting trade between ports within the United States. This offers them extra coverage when an offshore incident occurs because of a company’s negligence. The compensation available under the Jones Act is in addition to the compensation an injured maritime worker receives regardless of fault. So, while maritime workers do have a very dangerous job, they also have a great deal of protection when and if an offshore incident occurs.

The new frontier… as early as the 1800s versions of off shore operation for oil drilling began. Some of the original oil derricks were in as low as 4 meters or approximately 13 feet deep. Now offshore drilling is a different kind of frontier. Floating cities that house massive drills into the earth that lies beneath the sea extracting liquid gold, yes oil. With every new innovation the hope is to make off shore drilling safer, but when you are working with Mother Nature is it really safe?

US Oil Independence

The belief is that the outer continental shelf in the ocean has enough oil to free us of depending on any other country for oil. Most of the outer continental shelf that is left is protected under current Eco-protectionism laws. The truth of the matter is that if we started drilling today we would not see any benefits of drilling at least until 2030. The opposition to the addition to more drilling seems to outweigh the proponents, but that has not meant anything with the current administration’s policies.


Hurricanes are life or death situations for a worker on and offshore derrick. Most shut down operations and cut off emergency supply valves to avoid an oil spill. Katrina and Rita, Gulf hurricanes that both occurred in 2005, destroyed 115 oil platforms and damaged an additional 52 others. This time period was the largest shut down of oil and gas production in the Gulf due to a natural disaster. What we learned from this was building the platforms higher to avoid some of the pounding waves and water pressure that happens in a huge storm or hurricane.

Fires and Explosions

When working with oil and gas it does not matter if you are on land or sea, the event still can happen and we had an environmental disaster when it did in 2010. The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform rig exploded and killed 11 workers and kept Americans watching for 85 days as BP worked to plug the leak that spilled at least 4 million barrels of oil in the Gulf. It was a sad period for all those affected and all Americans as we watched the disaster unfold. It took a toll environmentally and still is from Texas to the Panhandle of Florida wildlife and sea-life alike still struggle to survive. The fishing industry is beginning to bounce back, but the stigma of seafood from the region remains. Some of estuaries, salt marshes and wetlands of the Gulf region still have oil on their banks and the environmental impact is an ongoing study.
Do we really need it?

The real question is do we really need additional offshore operations in any of the waters surrounding our states? Will it make a difference to better us as a country, or will it hurt us as a country? Do we really want to look out on every ocean and see an offshore drilling operation?

Offshore Oil Rig Sunset

The Process

Offshore drilling is a process where drilling of oil occurs below the seabed. This process is done to explore for and extract petroleum. To define this process further, it is an oil extraction technique that allows companies to access oil under the ocean floor.

The Jones Act

The Jones Act of 1920 is a U.S. federal statute that provides for the promotion and maintenance of the American merchant marine. Also, this law regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports.

Types of Oil Rigs Used

It is important to note; the type of oil rig used in offshore drilling depends on the type of oil, depth at the location and other current conditions. Examples of oil rigs that are used are drilling barges, jack-up rigs, submersible rigs and semi-submersible rigs.

The Planning Stage

Drilling for oil is not an easy task. It takes time, manpower and various types of equipment. This process can be divided into five categories.

  1. The first category is to choose a location and make a proposal. There are several ways to choose a location such as measuring samples of soil for hydrocarbon content and seismic imaging. Once a viable drilling site has been found, a proposal for drilling is drafted.
  2. The next step is to prepare the area to hire the crew for the physical work. In addition, you will also need to employ people to handle the legal and technical aspects of the drilling process. People needed for the technical aspects of the drilling process are ecologists, geologists, attorneys and the construction crew.
  3. The final step in the oil drilling process is to finalize legal work and establish policies. Documents will need to be completed as well as registration, designation, and a deposit. Keep in mind; if something happens and a well needs to be removed, an agreement by your company will need to be in place. This agreement will be a willingness to remove all operating components in agreement with laws in the state or county. This agreement can be in the form of a letter of credit or a performance bond.
  4. The second last step is to prepare the soil, drilling, and testing for oil.
  5. The fifth step is inserting the pipes. Because it takes a lot of time and hard digging to reach the oil; patience, determination, tools, and manpower are needed so that the oil drilling process is successful.

Benefits of Offshore Drilling

Offshore drilling offers a variety of benefits. Offshore drilling will eventually end America’s dependence on foreign oil and petroleum products. It also helps to keep the cost of oil down and that means lower gas prices for Americans. In addition, offshore drilling creates a variety of job opportunities. These jobs range from production to distribution. Sometimes in the unfortunate event of an oil rig explosion though, it can also be reason for the increased employment of maritime lawyers as well.

Most importantly, offshore drilling benefits the environment. Some may not know it, but the offshore drilling rig is huge. It is a complex piece of machinery that provides a safe area for marine life such as birds, fish and a variety of sea creatures.

In addition, offshore drilling builds businesses. Over 459 billion is being spent in the offshore oil and gas market. This not only applies to large businesses but also to local economies and small business. While drilling, offshore drilling companies support local economies and small business owners.

To conclude, offshore drilling provides a host of benefits, economically and for the environment. Find out about The Jones Act of 1920.

Inside an Offshore Oil Rig

Petroleum is among the most valuable resources coveted by many industries. Its extraction is a mechanical process that needs proper equipment and skilled application. Most often, this involves drilling on the different bodies of water — from lakes, inshore waters and even inland seas. This is because petroleum is commonly found in rock formations underneath bodies of water. Of course, this process, called offshore drilling has its own environmental hazards; but this becomes much more salient if the process is done by facilities that have little or no regard to the appropriate measures that have to be observed.

Offshore drilling, given that it works on various bodies of water, usually have partnerships with different mariners and maritime segments. Different companies such as Houston Maritime who provide skilled personnel are often tapped and called on board to help with the entire mechanical process. This is a concerted effort — from surveying to the actual extraction which can be very rigorous and hard on the bo.

Controversy on Offshore Drilling

In the United States alone, 40 million acres have been surveyed to be available for offshore drilling. However, the debate starts because much of this area is located in protected coastlines that are typically off limits to such exploration and ventures. This is one of the most classic debates between the possible clash between business and environmental concerns.

Lowering Gas Prices?

Gas Prices Decreasing

Proponents to continue the exploration reason out that continuing with the drilling would lower gas prices, decrease dependence on foreign, imported oil, and would be an over-all good venture for the domestic economy. This, according to advocates, would mean cheaper rates as there is now an added source that will ramp up the country’s petroleum domestic supply. Many companies engaged in offshore drilling are, of course, it’s number one proponents. Houston Maritime, for example, is among those who approve the venture, considering it can mobilize many local jobs. Such companies also promise to comply with the necessary measures and safety precautions to minimize any adverse effects on the seabed during the process of drilling and extraction.

Detractors, on the other hand, claim that any changes in the domestic supply of petroleum will not be significant enough to impact prices in a major way. Besides, petroleum extraction usually takes a long process, so its eventual effects on the economy will be more in the long-term. This, according to detractors, does not compensate for the heavy damage that the drilling will have on surrounding ecosystems. The process is also vulnerable to oil spillage, which in experience, turns into an environmental disaster that companies responsible can do nothing about.

The decision, after all the arguments have been exhausted, will depend on the politics and personal priorities. It is really a matter of choosing whether business or environment is the more important consideration. In any case, many who choose to advocate a balanced side say that there can be a compromise between the business side and the pro-environment section. At the end of the day, stakeholders need to sit down and talk out whether such a venture is indeed worth it.


Offshore drilling comes with its own pros and cons, like most ventures. It can benefit the economy, but not without its environmental risks. However, it is noteworthy to emphasize that petroleum is a valuable, finite natural resource that needs expert and skilled equipment and personnel to extract. A good balance between the pro and con side is to ensure company compliance with environmental regulations, as well as to limit coastlines available for offshore drilling.