There are plenty of mistakes offshore workers can make when injured, and some can be life-threatening. However, of all the mistakes you can make after being injured on the job, the one that stands out is putting too much trust in your employer’s insurance. Offshore workers’ injuries are often severe, and they may result in a lifetime of medical bills while dramatically reducing your capacity to work.
The Insurance Claims Process
The U.S. oil and gas extraction industry, which includes offshore drilling operations, has a higher fatality rate than other industries – about seven times as high. Injuries and wrongful death suits are common throughout the industry, and company insurers expect a certain percentage of these accidents to be included in a process called underwriting.
After an offshore accident, the employer calls their insurance carrier to open a claims file. The insurance company assigns an adjuster to the case right away, whose primary job is to limit the payout as much as possible. The payouts might seem large to the injured person at first, but most people don’t realize how expensive injuries could be.
Insurance companies try to get the victims to sign off on quick settlements that are minimal at best and don’t include punitive damages when company negligence is a major cause of the accident.
Claims adjusters appear very professional when investigating the accident with these steps:
- Reviewing medical records
- Evaluating who is at fault for the accident
- Assigning percentages of fault for the accident
- Collecting medical bills
- Evaluating injuries and determining a disability percentage
- Communicating with the attorneys for everyone involved
- Formulating a settlement offer
- Reducing the settlement amount to a lowball figure that most victims would accept.
Don’t be fooled by what seems like a big initial settlement. Settlements offered to worksite injury victims who don’t have a lawyer are always lower than the true value of their claims.
Accepting these lowball settlements for quick money is the single biggest mistake injured offshore workers can make after a workplace injury. That’s why it is critical to hire an attorney to ensure you receive fair compensation for all your injuries, medical expenses, projected future medical expenses, disability compensation, and punitive damages.
Dangerous Oil and Gas Jobs
The injury rate oil and gas extraction industry dropped between 2015 and 2017, but the rate jumped in 2018, which is calculated based on operator and contractor hours worked.
The oil and gas industry has three types of companies involved with extraction: contractors that drill the wells, contractors that manage leased areas, and well-servicing companies. These jobs rank among the most dangerous jobs on Earth.
Multiple data sources provide a clear picture of the risks, which include explosions, offshore rig fires, drownings, and high death rates.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act offers maritime workers added protection that extends beyond Maintenance and Cure policies. Not all offshore workers are considered seamen, but some might, which would open up greater resources and compensation.
Offshore injury is common because of the dangerous work that is a constant feature of offshore life. Workers are highly paid to perform these difficult jobs, but that means nothing when a common injury can make someone unable to work while needing medical treatment for life.
Some of the risks include the following:
- Slips and falls caused by the careless placement of tools on deck
- Fires and explosions
- Falls into the ocean from heights that can break bones
- Inadequate lighting for rigs that operate 24/7
- Improper training on dangerous equipment
- Transportation accidents
- Exposure to fumes and chemicals that cause breathing disorders
- Human errors caused by high stress, long shifts, lack of sleep, and no days off.
Getting the Right Representation
After being injured while stationed offshore, you should immediately hire a personal injury lawyer with experience in getting compensation after an offshore injury caused by a worksite accident. Don’t sign any agreements with the insurance company provides until consulting with a personal injury attorney. Signing those papers usually mean that you give up your right to sue your employer if they were responsible for the accident too.
As a journalist, Leland D. Bengtson dedicated most of his career to law reporting. He aims to draw in the public and make people more interested in the field. He is active on multiple platforms to increase his outreach to the public. Leland tirelessly covers all types of legal issues, but he has a personal preference for medical malpractice. This is mainly because he witnessed the implications of medical malpractice on a family member.