Have you or a loved one been seriously injured in an offshore accident? Was it due to someone else’s negligent actions? Do you want to obtain compensation from the at-fault party? If so, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Houston offshore accident attorney who can help you get the full compensation you’re due for your losses, expenses, pain, and suffering. Kherkher Garcia, LLP has a thorough knowledge of state laws and over 100 years of combined experience representing clients injured in offshore rig accidents. We put our skills to work for accident victims in Houston and the surrounding areas.
An offshore accident may involve an explosion, fire, a falling object, faulty machinery, drowning, and other dangers. Employees who work on oil and gas rigs and other vessels face dangerous conditions every day. Tragically, severe injuries and even employee fatalities are not uncommon. Even if you take the necessary safety precautions, you could face hazards due to someone else’s misconduct. Your employer might fail to provide safety gear, or malfunctioning equipment could cause an explosion. If an employer uses negligent hiring practices, an unqualified worker could end up on a rig and place everyone in danger.
Relaxed adherence to safety regulations and other negligent actions are often the cause of these serious offshore accidents. You shouldn’t have to suffer financially and emotionally if you were injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault. The attorneys of Kherkher Garcia, LLP are standing by to help you with your recovery. We have 24/7 services so you can reach us whenever you need us. We understand the importance of remaining available for our clients to discuss their cases when it is most convenient for them.
We’ve helped numerous clients who have suffered injuries in dangerous workplace accidents. We have the resources and skills needed to take on the most complex offshore accident cases. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Kherkher Garcia, LLP at (713) 333-1030 to learn how we can get you the compensation you are entitled to.
- Why You Need an Experienced Offshore Accident Attorney
- Why Should I Choose Kherkher Garcia, LLP to Represent Me?
- Types of Offshore Accident Cases We Handle
- What You Should Do if You Get Hurt in an Offshore Accident
- Common Injuries Suffered in Offshore Rig Accidents
- Laws Regarding Offshore Accidents
- What Compensation Is Available in a Lawsuit?
- Determining Fault in an Offshore Accident
- How Modified Comparative Negligence Could Affect Your Lawsuit
- Offshore Rig Accident Frequently Asked Questions
- Contact an Offshore Accident Lawyer Today
Why You Need an Experienced Offshore Accident Attorney
After an offshore accident, you need to focus on healing. Your injuries have probably had a significant financial impact on your life. You may now be faced with substantial, endless medical bills, and you may be missing work. If your injuries are particularly severe, they could prevent you from ever returning to work again. Injured workers can face crushing debt if they don’t have the money to afford their medical care and other expenses. You need the help of a great lawyer to assist you with the legal road ahead.
A personal injury lawyer skilled in handling offshore accidents knows the laws affecting those cases. We understand the duty of care that different parties owe you. An offshore accident lawyer has access to experts and other valuable resources to help determine why the accident occurred and to discover all of the parties that may be liable for the accident and your injuries. In addition, we can help recover compensation for expenses you have already incurred and any accident-related costs you may be faced with in the future.
When you retain our firm, one of our experienced attorneys can deal with the insurance companies, so you don’t have to. Representatives of insurance companies may seem kind and concerned when they speak with you, but they do not represent you. Rather, insurance company representatives act on behalf of the insurance company and its client. They will try to get an injured party, such as you, to accept a settlement that is often far less than what you’re entitled to recover. It is extremely important to talk to an attorney before you discuss the case with anyone else.
Kherkher Garcia, LLP can help you secure all the compensation available for your injuries and losses. We can communicate on your behalf with all of the attorneys involved in your case. Remember, you need someone to represent your interests, and when you hire us, we are squarely in your corner, ready to fight for you. We can try to ensure that your right to recover fair and equitable compensation for your injuries is not compromised. Your compensation is likely to be much greater than what you would receive if you attempt to handle the matter on your own. That’s because unrepresented clients don’t know how to take on intimidating insurance companies or defense attorneys. You will most likely encounter obstacles you don’t know how to overcome and end up walking away with less money than you need.
Why Should I Choose Kherkher Garcia, LLP to Represent Me?
The attorneys at Kherkher Garcia, LLP have over thirty years of trial experience. We will provide you with vigorous representation, just as we have for thousands of clients. We firmly believe that being prepared to go to trial is an extremely effective method to get the most out of settlement negotiations. The insurance companies know that we’re not afraid to take them to court. That is likely to be more expensive for them than just paying an appropriate amount of compensation beforehand.
Our firm has successfully recovered billions of dollars for our clients. No matter what your injury is, we have likely already tried or settled a case like it. Our passion and creativity mean that we are constantly coming up with new ways to prevail on behalf of our clients. We can develop the right strategy to achieve your goals and reach a positive outcome. We always keep our clients’ interests in mind while working on their cases.
One of our partners, Bret Stanley, not only has significant experience with maritime injury law but specifically with Jones Act litigation. The Jones Act is a federal law enacted in 1920 and permits seamen to sue their employers for on-the-job injuries due to negligence.
The attorneys at Kherkher Garcia, LLP possess significant, national trial experience. Even though we are based in Houston, Texas, we have represented clients in jurisdictions throughout the United States.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, we have access to many resources and a team of experienced and skilled attorneys who will professionally and expertly guide you through the legal process. Our attorneys will protect your rights against big corporations and help you recover the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries and the losses you sustained due to the offshore accident.
You do not need to pay us anything upfront. We believe that everyone is entitled to high-quality legal representation, whether they have money or not. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. Essentially, this means that we only get paid if you get paid. We’ll collect our fees and costs if we can secure compensation from the at-fault party. If we lose your case, you won’t owe us any money, now or in the future.
Types of Offshore Accident Cases We Handle
Offshore accidents may result from failure to follow prescribed safety steps, distracted or negligent co-workers, or faulty equipment. There are many different causes of offshore accidents, and they can result in all types of disasters. Below is a list of some of the types of offshore accidents we can handle for you:
- Fire on the vessel – Oil rig workers handle flammable gases and oil while performing their job duties. These substances can cause a fire if the necessary safety precautions are ignored while storing, transporting, or handling them.
- Equipment failures – The equipment used on offshore vessels must be in excellent condition. That means there should be routine maintenance and repairs. Malfunctioning equipment and machinery can lead to significant injuries and death.
- Taking on fuel – If the pressure control systems fail, the rig could take on gas, oil, or fuel, resulting in a catastrophic blowout.
- Cargo loading/unloading – Workers must follow specific guidelines when loading and unloading cargo. If toxic substances aren’t loaded correctly, they could spill, or unsecured materials could fall off a vehicle and injure someone.
- Vessel collisions – Employees will use barges and tugboats to complete their tasks. An inexperienced operator, distractions, and defective parts can lead to devastating crashes with another vessel or dock.
- Falling objects – Unsecured tools and other objects can fall to the ground below the workspace. Workers often perform job-related duties on platforms and other high spaces. If they’re not careful and knock something off, an employee underneath could suffer trauma from the force of the object striking them.
- Electric hazards – It’s common to work alongside mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical sources of energy. Faulty equipment or a lack of operating procedures can lead to electrocution, fires, and other issues.
- Dredging accidents – Dredging involves using a vessel to excavate materials from the bottom of a waterway, so navigation is easier. Multiple complications could arise, increasing the risk of an accident, such as malfunctioning equipment, unsafe deck conditions, inadequate safety procedures, and collisions.
- Chemical accidents – There are various dangers when working with hazardous chemicals. If you’re drilling for oil or gas, you could inhale toxic vapors or come in contact with substances that cause severe burns to the skin.
- Crane failures – Operating a crane requires experience and skill. Cranes must also undergo maintenance and repairs when necessary. If there’s a missing part, damaged system, or the operator makes an error, the crane won’t function safely and could injure the operator or someone else.
- Explosions – Drilling for oil involves combustible materials and hazardous chemicals. Incorrectly stored fuel, vessels crashing into each other, and poorly maintained pipelines can cause explosions, injuring everyone in the path of the blast.
- Ventilation system malfunctions – Harsh conditions exist on all offshore rigs. If there’s poor air quality, you could inhale pollutants, mold, and other dangerous particles and develop severe health problems.
Because the cause or causes behind an offshore accident are often difficult to discern, the parties responsible for your injuries are often difficult to identify. A Houston offshore accident lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident. We can help you figure out why the accident happened and identify all of the responsible parties. We can also help you obtain all of the compensation to which you are entitled under the law.
What You Should Do if You Get Hurt in an Offshore Accident
Seeking medical care is vital after any type of accident. Even if your injury is minor, you should still see a doctor. You might believe you can rest at home and make a full recovery, but internal damage might exist that leads to life-threatening complications. A doctor can evaluate your condition and determine the appropriate treatment plan for your recovery. Follow their order and continue attending doctor’s appointments until your physicians release you from their care. You might need surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, imaging tests, or prescription drugs.
Waiting days or even weeks before your initial doctor visit could negatively affect the outcome of your case. Without the necessary documentation of ongoing treatment, an insurance company could deny your claim because the significant gaps between appointments indicate that the injury isn’t serious or doesn’t require much medical intervention.
You should also hire a Houston offshore rig accident attorney immediately following your injury. Kherkher Garcia, LLP can take on the responsibility for your case so you can focus on healing. You shouldn’t be forced to communicate with the insurance company, review evidence, file the claim, or negotiate a settlement. We will relieve your burden and handle all of that on your behalf.
Make sure you also maintain records during your case. You should keep a copy of every document you receive and forward them to us. The more evidence we can obtain, the better chance of securing the maximum available compensation we will have. Without adequate evidence, it will be difficult to prove the accident happened and the extent of your injuries or illness.
Common Injuries Suffered in Offshore Rig Accidents
Offshore rigs contain visible and hidden dangers that can lead to injuries and death. Some workers heal entirely, while others are left with disabling conditions. If you can’t return to your job after the accident, you might miss out on the income you need to pay for your medical costs and daily living expenses.
Even if your physical injuries heal, you could end up with psychological trauma that continues long after your case ends. An offshore accident can take a significant financial, emotional, and physical toll. Permanent physical damage can lead to chronic pain, loss of mobility, and mental impairments.
The types of injuries commonly found due to offshore accidents include:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burn injuries
- Internal injuries/bleeding
- Broken limbs
- Heat exhaustion
- Back injuries
- Crush injuries
- Illnesses from inhaling toxic chemicals
People may suffer many other injuries in addition to those listed above. Just because you or your loved one has not sustained one of these injuries does not mean you do not deserve compensation. The Houston offshore rig accident attorneys of Kherkher Garcia, LLP believe maritime workers should receive full and fair compensation for the trauma they experienced. You should not be forced to pay out-of-pocket for any expenses caused by this accident.
Laws Regarding Offshore Accidents
Various laws are in place to protect offshore workers injured on the job. Texas workers’ compensation law does not require coverage for employees performing job-related duties on an offshore drilling rig. That includes loading or unloading cargo on vessels. That means you might have to look to other laws that allow you to seek compensation for the losses you suffered in the offshore accident.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act, also known as The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, gives offshore workers specific rights if they suffer an injury or illness at work. Since maritime employees can’t recover benefits through workers’ compensation insurance, they can file a claim under this act.
Only specific maritime workers can pursue compensation. They include:
- Ferry workers
- Oil rig workers
- Tugboat workers
- Harbor workers
- Merchant mariners
- Shipyard and dock workers
- Barge crews
To qualify for coverage, you must spend at least 30 percent of your time performing your work-related tasks onboard a vessel. The most common vessels used by maritime workers are:
- Oil tankers
- Offshore oil rigs
- Crew boats
- Supply boats
- Container ships
- Tug boats
If you suffered an injury or illness, it must have occurred on navigable waters used for foreign or interstate commerce.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Injured employees could seek compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act for accidents occurring while performing work-related responsibilities on navigable waters or crafting, loading, unloading, or repairing a vessel. As long as you suffered a job-related injury or illness, your employer or their insurance company should provide the compensation you need to cover your medical treatment, lost wages, and other expenses.
Employees that qualify for coverage include:
- Harbor workers
- Longshore workers
- Ship repairers
Workers excluded from compensation under this act are:
- Intoxicated employees
- Workers intentionally inflicting harm on themselves
- Government employees
- Employees covered by workers’ compensation laws
Death on the High Seas Act
You could pursue compensation for the losses you suffered if your loved one died while working on an offshore rig or as a passenger on a vessel more than three miles from the territorial coast of the United States. Only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act. They must represent the interests of surviving beneficiaries, such as:
There also must be evidence of negligence or unseaworthiness related to your loved one’s death. That means someone else’s actions must have contributed to the fatal accident in order for you to recover compensation.
Negligence is the failure to provide a reasonable degree of care to avoid causing harm to another person. Unseaworthiness is similar to negligence but involves the vessel. A vessel is unseaworthy if it contains dangerous or defective conditions, such as inexperienced crew or malfunctioning equipment.
What Compensation Is Available in a Lawsuit?
There are two types of compensation you could be eligible for after an offshore accident. The first, more straightforward type is economic compensation. Your economic losses may include:
- Medical bills for doctor visits, rehab, physical therapy, prescriptions, etc.
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage, if appropriate
- Loss of household services
The second type is non-economic compensation. This type of compensation is subjective and more difficult to quantify, but a skilled attorney can help you determine the value of the recovery you’re owed. For example, you might be eligible to recover compensation for:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
In rare cases, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages. A court of law may award this to punish the wrongdoer for reckless or malicious behavior. An award of punitive damages is intended not only to punish the wrongdoer but to deter them from engaging in that behavior again. You must keep in mind that not every plaintiff is entitled. The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at Kherkher Garcia, LLP can advise you whether the facts of your particular case can support such a claim.
Determining Fault in an Offshore Accident
One of our seasoned offshore accident injury attorneys will conduct a detailed investigation into the facts surrounding your case. This investigation will enable the attorney to determine why the offshore accident occurred. The investigation will also help identify the parties responsible for your injuries. Potentially liable parties may include:
Your employer, if this was a work-related accident
The company that performed repairs, if they performed any repairs
A plaintiff must commence a lawsuit under the Jones Act within three years of the date of injury to recover damages. A lawsuit under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act must be filed within one year of the date of accident.
In Texas, a civil suit for an injury claim must be filed within two years of the date of the accident under the statute of limitations. This is a strict timeframe you must follow if you want to hold the negligent party liable for their actions. The laws governing other states may have different time limitations. It’s important that you do not delay in contacting an offshore accident attorney. If you wait and your lawsuit is not filed on time, you may lose the right to recover compensation through the courts.
Type of Incidents that Led to Injuries and Fatalities
Rate of Recordable Injuries by Year
How Modified Comparative Negligence Could Affect Your Lawsuit
During a Texas civil lawsuit, the jury will review the evidence and determine who was at fault for the accident. They might place fault on multiple parties. Under proportionate responsibility, a modified form of comparative negligence, they could reduce your financial award by the percentage of fault they assign to you.
For example, let’s say the offshore accident resulted in $100,000 in losses. If someone else was 100 percent to blame, you could recover the entire $100,000 in compensation. However, if the jury determines you were 20 percent at fault, you could only pursue up to $80,000. In cases where you’re more than 50 percent responsible for your injuries, you would be prohibited from recovering a monetary award.
Offshore Rig Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Kherkher Garcia, LLP knows the challenges of pursuing a case against your employer or another party. Insurance claims aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and lawsuits are complex and confusing procedures to take on alone. We want you to prepare yourself for what’s to come, so you know how to handle anything that comes your way. Below are common questions we receive from clients while we’re working on their cases.
Contact an Offshore Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered injuries in an offshore rig accident, don’t wait to speak with a compassionate and experienced Houston offshore accident lawyer. You deserve quality representation, so you can recover from your injuries with the compensation that covers your total losses.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our Houston offshore rig accident attorneys will remain by your side to provide the support and guidance you need during this devastating time in your life. You won’t be alone in the pursuit of justice. We work tirelessly to reach an adequate insurance settlement or favorable jury verdict for our clients. No matter what it takes, you can depend on us to fight for you.
Don’t go it alone when the financial future of you and your family could be on the line. Contact us today and let us help you get the compensation you deserve so you can get your life back on track. Call Kherkher Garcia, LLP at (713) 333-1030 for your free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here to listen to your story and help you understand your legal rights and options.