Does workers’ compensation protect those who work offshore?

On Behalf of | Dec 24, 2020 | Maritime Law

Some of the best paying jobs in Texas require that you sometimes leave the state behind to venture out into open waters. Those who work in positions that are at least sometimes offshore likely have some extra risk on the job as well.

From the potential for someone to fall overboard to fires or explosions tied to oil and gas extraction, offshore job positions typically involve risky work. Employers may offer higher compensation to counter these higher risks, but a better salary means nothing if you get hurt so badly you can no longer work.

What happens to workers who get hurt while out on the open water, on a vessel or working at an offshore facility, like a drilling rig? Will they have the right to file for Texas or federal workers’ compensation benefits?

If your injury happened at sea, workers’ compensation likely doesn’t apply

Workers’ compensation helps protect workers in Texas if they get hurt on the job. Unfortunately, when you work on the ocean, you are no longer in Texas. In fact, if you are far enough out in the water, you may not even technically be in the United States anymore.

Given that workers’ compensation programs depend on location in part to establish the right to benefits, workers hurt while working offshore may not be able to ask for workers’ compensation. Some employers do carry extra coverage for offshore work injuries. Even if yours does not, you may have rights if you get seriously hurt on the job.

There are still protections that apply to injuries that occur at sea

The Jones Act establishes the right for injured workers to take legal actions if they get hurt at work and need compensation. However, unlike workers’ compensation, Jones Act claims usually require negligence on the part of the employer.

Workers’ compensation benefits typically only require a basic application, but compensation sought through the Jones Act will likely require more complex paperwork and court filings. Some cases may settle outside of court through negotiations, while others may require litigation.

Determining if you have a credible case for compensation under the Jones Act is usually the first step toward getting benefits after workplace injuries affect your life.