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How An Offshore Accident Lawyer Can Help You If You’ve Been Injured on an Oil Rig 

Oil drilling and exploration aboard offshore drilling rigs can result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Having graduated as an engineer from a merchant marine academy, acquired three U.S. Coast Guard licenses, and worked aboard oil drilling rigs for six years, board-certified attorney Keith Brais with the law firm of Brais Law Firm is in a unique position to help oil rig drilling platform workers who due to an accident suffer serious personal injury or death. Contact an experienced offshore accident lawyer at Brais Law Firm for personal injury or death claims from offshore or crew boat accidents. 

Keith Brais

We Help Offshore Workers Nationwide 

One need not look further than the recent explosion in the Gulf of Mexico to confirm the dangers associated with offshore work. The rig, of course, is the Transocean Deepwater Horizon. British Petroleum (BP) leased the rig and land being drilled. Halliburton was the contractor hired to put in place cement plugs. These types of accidents often occur because of worn or defective equipment, improper safety precautions, and improper or insufficient training.

All too often safety is compromised in an effort to reduce costs. The players are the company leasing the rig, in this instance BP and its “company man” versus the owner of the rig, in this instance Transocean and its “Rig Superintendent”, “Tool Pusher” or “Driller”. Every company leasing a rig at hundreds of thousands of dollars a day wants the well drilled and tested quickly. On the other hand, a rig owner is not overly concerned with “speed.” The rig operator is, after all, receiving a large sum of money for each day the rig is on site and operating. Therein lies the conflict.

Few attorneys, if any, have a greater appreciation of the dangers associated with working offshore than Keith Brais. Keith Brais worked aboard offshore drilling rigs from 1981 to 1987. During this period, he worked as an engineer trainee, roustabout, roughneck, derrick hand, and assistant driller (the person second in command of drill floor operations). In the course of his training, he acquired an MMSS-OCS-TI: Well Control, Surface Stack & Subsea Stack, Blow-Out Prevention (“BOP”) Course, Driller Level Certificate. He worked in the Mediterranean, off the West Coast of Africa, and in the Gulf of Mexico on all known types of rigs. Keith Brais’ experience includes time working directly on Cameron blowout preventers, tripping pipe, running casing, lowering and raising sub-sea BOPs, setting cement plugs, and all other aspects of oil drilling and exploration.

Federal Law Governing Offshore Operations 

The law governing offshore operations is the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA or OCS Lands Act). Under the OCS Lands Act federal agencies regulate every phase of exploration, production and development of oil and gas. The Act provides that it is “the duty of any holder of a lease or permit … to:

  1. maintain all places of employment within the lease area … in compliance with occupational safety and health standards and … free from recognized hazards to employees;
  2. maintain all operations … in compliance with regulations intended to protect persons … on the outer Continental Shelf.”

Any resident of the United States who is injured through the failure of an operator to comply with any rule, regulation, order, or permit issued … may bring an action for damages. The application of admiralty jurisdiction over workers engaged in offshore operations depends upon three variables:

  1. The type of craft or structure involved (whether or not it qualifies as a “vessel”);
  2. The status of the injured party (seaman, maritime worker or some other category); and
  3. The location of the platform at the time of the injury (whether it is within or beyond the limit of state jurisdiction).

An evaluation of the above factual criteria will determine issues regarding jurisdiction and control by federal law on the one hand versus coastal states on the other.

OSC Lands Act

A threshold determination is whether the injury occurred on a fixed offshore platform versus a floating structure. If it is determined the accident occurred aboard a fixed offshore platform, the OSC Lands Act makes the law of the adjacent state (to the extent not inconsistent with the Federal Law) applicable as “surrogate” federal Law and the worker will likely not be allowed to bring the usual seaman claims. This is not true, however, if the worker is independently associated with a vessel. On the other hand, if an injury occurs on a floating drilling platform and is determined to be a “vessel,” then the inured crewmember may be considered a Jones Act seaman entitled to bring the usual seaman claims against his employer and rig operator.

The OCS Lands Act provides for a question of federal jurisdiction, although state courts have concurrent jurisdiction and, thus, may be filed in state court subject to being removed to federal court. Depending upon the facts of a case, an OCSLA incident may also involve admiralty jurisdiction.

If the situs tests of the OCS Lands Act are satisfied, the next step is to determine whether state law applies as “surrogated” federal law under section 1333(a)(2). The three-prong test provides:

  1. The controversy must arise on a situs covered by OCSLA;
  2. Federal maritime law must not apply its own force;
  3. The State law must not be inconsistent with Federal Law.

The Longshore Act can also apply in two circumstances involving an OCS claim. First, the Longshore Act can apply on its own terms without the aid of the OCS Lands Act if the worker meets the usual status and situs tests of the Longshore Act. Additionally, a worker can qualify for Longshore Act benefits under the OCS Lands Act under section 1333(b) of the OCS Lands Act.

Finally, there are workers on fixed platforms located within state territorial waters. These workers do not qualify under the OCS Lands Act and must either look to state law remedies or in certain circumstances attempt to qualify for benefits under the Longshore Act.

The Outer-Continental Shelf Lands Act May Impact Your Rights 

The way in which the Outer-Continental Shelf Lands Act, or OCS Lands Act, 43 U.S. Code Sec. 1331, applies to your injury will impact your eligibility for compensation and the outcome of any related claim or case. Given the impact that the OCS Lands Act may have on your right to recover compensation for the costs linked to your injury, we’ll take a moment to explain what it means and what it covers. 

The OCS Lands Act defines the term “outer continental shelf” as “all submerged lands lying seaward that are outside the areas of lands that are beneath navigable waters of which the subsoil and seabed appertain, or relate, to the United States and are subject to its jurisdiction and control.” 

Generally, those who are covered under the OCS Lands Act engage in the following work:

  • Exploration – the process of searching for minerals (which includes geophysical surveys) and drilling whether on or off known geological structures (which includes prospecting for gas or oil or seeking out minerals in “paying quantities”) 
  • Development – the activities that occur offshore after the discovery of minerals in paying quantities, which includes drilling, platform construction, geophysical activity, and the operation of all onshore support facilities that are involved in the ultimate production of the minerals discovered 
  • Production – defined as those activities that take place after the successful completion of the removal of minerals and the removal, field operations, transfer to the shore of the minerals, as well as related work like maintenance, work-over drilling, and operation monitoring. 

Knowing when the work you engage in is covered under certain laws and acts in order to collect compensation for your injuries can be difficult. With an experienced offshore injury lawyer from Brais Law Firm on your case, you’ll be able to focus on recovering from your injuries while we determine what laws apply to your unique situation and assemble the best possible case based upon them. 

Brais Law Firm Has a Track-Record of Winning Offshore Injury Cases 

While there are seemingly endless personal injury firms that may be happy to take your case if there are certain factors present, there are only so many lawyers who can actually handle your case successfully. When it comes to offshore injuries governed by federal maritime law, experience is all the more important. In fact, the American Bar Association notes that the most important factor to take into consideration when hiring a lawyer is experience. 

Brais Law Firm has won many millions on behalf of our clients, including the following awards: 

  • $6.8 million crew member lifetime payout
  • $167,500 crew member personal injury 
  • $1.34 tug & barge crew member wrongful death
  • $500,000 crew member personal injury 
  • $340,000 crew member personal injury
  • $2.9 million crew member personal injury 

These are just a small number of the cases that we have successfully handled for our clients injured in maritime injuries, including those that occurred offshore, onshore, and on vessels. Reach out to one of our experienced offshore accident attorneys for your free consultation to determine how we can help on your case.

Contact An Experienced Offshore Accident Lawyer to Help You With The Complexities of Offshore Rig Accidents

The above demonstrates the complexities involved in representing a worker involved in an offshore rig accident. The above does not even touch upon what additional claims may exist against non-employer third parties.

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Law Firm have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach an offshore accident lawyer, you may click email the firm, call 800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide, or click contact us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.


Who will be handling my case?

Your case will be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to get the results you deserve. The practitioners at our firm have over 70 years of collective trial experience. Our credentials and qualifications are extensive, including an “AV” Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell and membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. More importantly, we have a first-hand understanding of how insurance carriers operate because we represented clients insured with major insurance companies for nearly 20 years before we made a choice to change sides so that we could help the people who need us most – individuals just like you.

Brais Law Firm: Who We Are

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I highly recommend Brais Law Firm. Their professionalism and expertise were top notch. My slip and fall injury case involved a well known cruise ship and was nerve racking to me. They calmed all my fears and walked me through step by step. In the end they helped me obtain a favorable recovery. Look no further, call them with your…


Awesome team of legal professionals!! I can't thank Mr. Brais and his team enough for helping me through the worst experience of my life. Had it not been for their dedication to seeing things through. I would be in a very bad place. I highly recommend Brais Law firm.


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