The Louisiana oil industry was in the news again recently when two former workers filed suit against their previous employer. The suit is the result of injuries sustained during a 2012 explosion on an oil platform. A consultant’s report reviewing the incident, and performed independent of the legal action, concluded that the fault lies at the hands of a subcontractor.
The offshore accident that killed three other workers and led to the injury of others occurred when a construction company, Grand Isle was contracted to work on Black Elk projects. The agreement between the two companies stated that Grand Isle would not use any subcontractors on the project. The consultant’s report, however, revealed that the workers on the platform were employed by subcontractor DNR Offshore and Crewing Services.
The consultant report also alleges that Grand Isle and DNR did not stop work on the platform when “unexpected conditions” like the smell of gas arose during the project. Ultimately, explosions occurred during work near a “wet oil tank” leaving three dead and others injured. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is reviewing the consultant’s report as a part of its investigation into the incident.
Two former workers that were injured on the platform have filed a suit claiming $20 million each in actual damages and $100 million in total punitive damages against the company. The victims and their spouses are alleging physical and mental injuries, medical expenses and loss of future wages.
Ship owners and companies that employ workers offshore are responsible for the safety of workers while performing their duties, even if, for example, other companies are at work in the same location.. Injured workers may find it necessary to seek compensation for injuries and damages. As such, a maritime attorney can help victims develop a strategy for compensation under the unique set of laws that apply to offshore workers.
Source: NOLA.com, “Consultant’s report says unsafe welding led to fatal accident in Black Elk Energy platform,” Manuel Torres, Aug. 21, 2013