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Injured on an oil rig? Don't let your benefits float away

Working on an oil rig off the shores of Louisiana can be an exciting, lucrative and dangerous career. When an accident occurs, the injuries that workers suffer could be severe or even fatal.

If you suffered injuries while working on an oil rig, you may wonder at first how your medical expenses, lost income and other damages will be covered since you don't qualify for traditional workers' compensation like Louisiana residents who work on land. You can rest easy though because the federal government devised a system of compensation for workers like you.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

The act provides you with the following benefits:

  • Medical care
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Compensation

Originally, oil rig workers were not covered under this act. However, an extension to it, called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, allows you to make a claim for these benefits under the act. The only requirement is that you work to explore and develop natural resources, such as on an oil rig platform, in the navigable waters and outer continental shelf of the United States.

What does the act require after an injury

Much like Louisiana's workers' compensation insurance, you must report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. You have 30 days to satisfy this requirement, but the sooner you do so, the better. The act provides you with this length of time since you may not even be aware that you suffered injuries until you wake up in a hospital.

If you don't wake up until after the expiration of the 30 days, you may still be able to provide your employer with official notice. You will need to provide a reason for the delay, and the delay cannot unnecessarily burden your employer.

Failing to meet this deadline could put your claim in jeopardy. However, you will still receive the medical care you need for the work-related injury. After receiving any emergency medical care that you require for your injuries, you may choose your own doctor.

Filing a claim

Providing your employer with notification of your injury is not the same as filing an official claim. You must do so within one year of the injury or one year of the last voluntary payment your employer provided you. If you do not timely and properly submit a claim within this deadline, you could lose your chance to receive benefits if you become disabled because of your injuries.

Ultimately, your employer pays your benefits. However, you will more than likely deal with your employer's claims adjuster or insurance company. Obtaining the benefits you deserve can be challenging and frustrating. Fortunately, help is available if you need it.

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