As the most deadly industry to work in, according to the CDC, the oil and gas industry is known as a high-risk field. With highly flammable products, huge and complex machinery, and a brutal work schedule, this field leads to an average of 16 deaths per year and hundreds more serious injuries in the offshore areas alone.
Common Causes of Oil Rig Deaths
- Being struck by equipment or debris
- Explosions and fires
- Falling from a height
When a worker is killed on an oil rig, their loved ones may be left asking what recourse they can take. If the worker's death was due to negligence on the part of the employer, family members may be able to seek out compensation. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, or other next of kin of the deceased can bring wrongful death claims.
The amount awarded to family members who file successful claims can include:
- Any medical bills that were incurred
- Funeral costs
- Loss of wages that would have been earned by the deceased, usually estimated by expert testimony based on previous earnings
- Pain and suffering due to the loss of the deceased
The most common legal recourse for a wrongful death at sea is found under a federal law called the Death on the High Seas Act. Under the Act, a claim of wrongful death must be brought against the negligent party within three years of the incident that caused the death.
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) also outlines that the right to pursue a company, manufacturer, or other entity for the wrongful death of a seaman under its laws only applies if the incident in question occurred more than a marine league (three miles) from shore. A deceased seaman's spouse, parent, child, or dependent relative can seek compensation if the death was caused by "wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas".