Jackup Rig Accident

A jackup rig accident is a serious incident where the rig’s legs, used for support, fail, leading to potential injuries or fatalities. These accidents can significantly impact a victim’s life, causing physical, financial, and emotional distress. Victims have the legal right to be compensated for these horrific incidents.

The following article explains jackup rig accidents, including how they happen, legal options for victims, potential compensation under laws like the Jones Act, and how a lawyer can be of great help to a victim in these types of cases.

Jackup Rig Accident Lawyer

Jackup rig accidents are extremely dangerous. Because they are the result of a structural failure, workers on a jackup rig can result in serious physical injury or death.

BoatLaw, LLP works hard to bring justice to victims and receive the maximum compensation for clients.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation.

We litigate maritime cases across the country from our offices in Washington, Oregon, and California. Do not settle for less than what your case is worth.

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About Jackup Rigs

Jackup rigs are mobile drilling units used for offshore oil and gas exploration. Unique for their extendable legs that can be lowered to the seabed, these rigs provide a stable platform for drilling. In the maritime environments of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, jackup rigs are designed to withstand harsh conditions, including icy waters and strong currents. These states’ oil and gas fields make jackup rigs essential to their economies, contributing to the regional energy industry.

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Types of Jackup Rig Accidents

Types of Oil Rig Accidents:

  1. Equipment Failures: Machinery malfunctions can lead to serious incidents.
  2. Slip and Fall Accidents: Frequent due to slippery surfaces and obstacles on the rig.
  3. Structural Failures: Compromise the rig’s stability and safety.
  4. Fire and Explosions: Often caused by flammable materials and gas leaks.
  5. Collisions: With vessels or other offshore structures, especially in busy offshore areas.
  6. Accidents During Lifting Operations: Heavy loads can cause injuries or structural damage.

Contributing Factors:

  1. Human Error: Often due to inadequate training or fatigue.
  2. Mechanical Failures: Result from poor maintenance or defective equipment.
  3. Harsh Weather Conditions: Strong winds and rough seas can lead to accidents.
  4. Inadequate Safety Measures: Non-compliance with safety guidelines increases risks.
  5. Poor Communication: Among crew members can lead to misunderstandings and mishaps.
  6. Complex Drilling Operations: The technical nature of drilling can be a source of accidents.


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Common Victims in Jackup Rig Accident Cases

Victims of jackup rig accidents typically include workers and crew members on the rig, like drillers, engineers, and maintenance staff. These individuals are directly involved in the operation and maintenance of the rig, making them particularly susceptible to accidents. Contractors and subcontractors who are onsite for specific tasks also fall into this category. In some cases, maritime transport personnel, including crew members of supply vessels and helicopters, can be affected, especially in accidents involving collisions or supply transport mishaps.

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Where Jackup Rig Accidents Happen

In the United States, jackup rig accidents are likely to occur in regions with significant offshore drilling activities. Along the West Coast, states like California and Alaska are notable for their offshore oil and gas operations, making these areas prone to incidents. Oregon and Washington, while having less offshore drilling activity compared to California and Alaska, still face potential risks because of their proximity to offshore operations and the transport routes for oil and gas. The surrounding waters of these states, which are routes for maritime traffic supporting the offshore industry, are also areas where accidents may occur, especially involving supply vessels and rig movements.

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Potential Liable Parties for Jackup Rig Accidents

In the event of an accident on a jackup rig, several parties could potentially be liable to a victim. Primarily, the company owning and operating the rig often bears responsibility. This liability stems from their duty to ensure the rig’s safety and compliance with all regulatory standards. If the company fails in this duty, resulting in an unsafe environment that leads to an accident, they can be held accountable. Similarly, employers, contractors and subcontractors engaged in the rig’s operations could also be liable if their actions or negligence contribute to the incident. This includes failing to properly maintain equipment or not adhering to safety protocols.

Moreover, the manufacturers of the rig and its equipment might face liability if a defect in their products is found to have caused the accident. Their responsibility is to provide goods that meet safety standards and are fit for their intended use. Additionally, the crew members, including the captain and engineers, could be liable if their negligence or improper actions lead to an accident. For instance, inadequate training or failing to execute emergency procedures correctly could directly impact safety on the rig.

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Legal Options for a Victim of a Jackup Rig Accident

When a victim of a jackup rig accident decides to file a lawsuit, they typically explore claims of negligence and unseaworthiness under the Jones Act and general maritime law. The Jones Act specifically allows injured seamen to pursue negligence claims against their employers. In this case, the victim must prove that the employer’s negligence, such as failing to maintain a safe working environment or not adhering to safety regulations, directly contributed to their injury. This requires demonstrating a breach of the duty of care owed to the employee.

Unseaworthiness claims focus on the condition of the vessel itself rather than the employer’s behavior. A vessel is deemed unseaworthy if it, including its equipment and crew, is not reasonably fit for its intended purpose. Victims can claim that the rig’s unsafe condition led to their accident, without the need to prove negligence on the part of the vessel owner.

If a jackup rig accident happens because something on the rig broke or didn’t work right, the victim could bring a product liability claim. Also, if someone else working on the rig, who isn’t the victim’s employer, did something wrong and that caused the accident, the victim might be able to bring a lawsuit against that party. This is known as a third party claim.

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Potential Damages in Jackup Rig Accident Cases

Under the Jones Act, a worker can claim compensation for injuries because of employer negligence, including lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Unseaworthiness claims allow victims to seek damages for similar losses if the accident was because of the vessel being unfit.  Maintenance and cure benefits are also available to victims, covering the victim’s daily living expenses and medical costs during recovery, regardless of fault.

Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, injured workers who aren’t classified as seamen can receive compensation for medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages. However, this Act does not allow claims for pain and suffering or mental anguish.

In cases of wrongful death under the Jones Act, the victim’s family can seek compensation for their loss, including loss of financial support, love, care, and companionship.

In general maritime cases against a third party, the injured person may be entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses incurred due to the injury, compensation for lost wages if the injury prevented them from working, and money for pain and suffering experienced. Additionally, compensation might cover future losses, such as decreased earning capacity resulting from the injury.

A victim’s partial fault in a jackup rig accident can reduce the amount of damages they receive in certain types of claims. If the victim is found partly at fault for the accident, the compensation amount may be reduced proportionally to their amount of fault.

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Steps to Take After Experiencing a Jackup Rig Accident

  1. Seek Medical Attention: First and foremost, attend to any injuries by getting medical help immediately.
  2. Report the Accident: Notify your supervisor or the shipowner about the accident as soon as you can.
  3. Document the Scene: Take the time to document the accident scene and collect contact information from any witnesses.
  4. Keep Medical Records: Preserve all medical records and receipts connected to the injury. These documents are crucial for any potential legal claims.

Victims should keep in mind that claims made under the Jones Act due to negligence, and those related to unseaworthiness under general maritime law, must be filed within a three-year period following the injury.

For those seeking benefits under the LHWCA, the deadline is tighter, with claims needing to be submitted within one year of the injury.

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Role of a Jackup Rig Accident Lawyer

A jackup rig accident lawyer can guide victims through the legal process. They can help gather and present evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent the victim in court if necessary. These lawyers understand the specific laws and regulations involved in maritime accidents, including the Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. They can assess the case, advise on legal options, and help maximize the compensation the victim receives. Additionally, a lawyer can manage the legal process, allowing the victim to focus on recovery.

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Additional Resources

Types of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units

Provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, this resource explains the designs of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), including jack-up rigs. It discusses independent-leg and mat-supported jack-ups, highlighting their unique features, operational uses, and how they adapt to the seabed for stability. This overview aids in understanding the different capabilities and requirements of MODUs, emphasizing their importance in safely and efficiently conducting offshore drilling operations in environmental conditions.

Deaths Because of Hydrogen Sulphide on a Jackup Rig at Bombay High: An Avoidable Accident

This resource details a tragic incident on an oil rig, where workers were exposed to dangerous gases, leading to multiple fatalities. The accident occurred during gas sampling inside “spud tanks” of the rig. Factors contributing to the incident include non-compliance with safety procedures, inadequate equipment, and lack of proper supervision. The report emphasizes the importance of complying with safety measures and using correct equipment to prevent accidents, ensuring a safer working environment for rig workers.

Introduction to Jackup Rigs

This educational resource from Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences provides an overview of jack-up rigs. This source explains the rig’s functionality, including how it’s moved, set up, and the drilling processes conducted on it, making it a valuable read for anyone interested in offshore drilling operations.

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Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

Contact us today to champion your cause and navigate the complexities of maritime claims, ensuring that your rights are fiercely protected and your future is secured.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation.

We litigate maritime cases across the country from our offices in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. We handle cases that occur in the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, Coos Bay, The Columbia River, Grays Harbor, Port Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Dutch Harbor, and the Gulf of Alaska.

Do not settle for less than what your case is worth.

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