Deepwater Horizon Exposes Maritime Injuries Law

Maritime Injuries Law
Maritime Injuries Law

The Deepwater Horizon catastrophe may be an opportunity for Congress to update the existing Maritime Laws as they apply to injuries and death for oil drilling platform workers. There is so much press lately about the environmental impact, as well there should be, but very little of it deals with Maritime Law injuries and the deaths and injuries sustained by the victims of the explosion.

There were eleven men killed in the explosion and many more severely injured. These men and their families should not be discounted or forgotten, but they should be made whole. Members of Congress recently made a vow to repeal the antiquated law that limits the amount of money survivors can recover in the deaths of family members killed in the Gulf of Mexico oil drilling platform explosion.

Maritime Injuries And Death

The 1920 “Death on the High Seas Act” (DOHSA) (46 U.S.C. app. §§ 761–768), which limits liability for wrongful deaths that occur more than three miles offshore was exposed by the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion. Members of the House Energy and Commerce committee who have been investigating the disaster saw the need to repeal the legislation and promised to do just that.

One member, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. said, “One way we can hurt BP is to make sure that ‘BP’ stand for ‘bills paid,’ that the money for families, the money to clean up the Gulf comes out of their pocket, and that we repeal the Death on the High Seas Act.” Markey made the comment in response to testimony from the widows of two workers killed in the explosion, Natalie Roshto of Liberty, Miss., and Courtney Kemp of Jonesville, La.

Their husbands, Shane Roshto, 22, and Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, were both employed by Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform. Kemp and Roshto told the panel that their husbands had been telling them for weeks before the oil drilling platform exploded about problems the crews were having controlling the well.

Maritime Injuries Covered By Jones Act

Deepwater Horizon’s operators failed to take action to correct the problem and the oil rig exploded killing and injuring dozens of workers.  Maritime injuries as opposed to deaths are covered mainly by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261) also known as the Jones Act. The Jones Act covers Maritime injuries sustained by seamen aboard ship.

Jones Act allows U.S. seamen who have suffered maritime injuries to file lawsuits against ship owners based on claims of un-seaworthiness or negligence. These rights are not afforded by common international maritime law.

Contact Personal Injury Lawyer

Because the Deepwater Horizon is a mobile oil drilling platform, it’s considered a vessel and most workers are covered for maritime injuries by the Jones Act. If you or a loved one have suffered any type of maritime injury please contact a qualified personal injury lawyer today at The Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen, we can help you.

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