Offshore Wind Farm Accident

Accidents at offshore wind farms can be a nightmare for the victims. The injuries can be deep and painful, both physically and emotionally. The stress of big medical bills and the inability to work make life even harder. It’s important for victims to know that they have legal rights following these incidents.

In the following article, we’ll cover useful information about these accidents, including their causes, legal options for victims, possible financial compensation, and how a lawyer assists throughout the legal process.

Wind Farm Injury Lawyers

Between medical bills and physical injury, the victims of offshore wind farm accidents face a long road to recovery, or a lifetime of disability. In these cases, the responsibility for paying for treatment lies with the employer. That’s where we come in.

The lawyers at BoatLaw, LLP are experienced accident injury attorneys who are ready to provide strong legal assistance in seeking financial compensation for victims of offshore wind farm accidents. If you’ve been injured, we’re just a call away.

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 Offshore Wind Farms

An offshore wind farm is a collection of wind turbines placed in bodies of water, typically oceans or large lakes, to generate electricity. These turbines are mounted on structures fixed to the ocean floor or floating, depending on the depth of the water. The main advantage of offshore wind farms is the consistent and strong wind found at sea, which leads to more efficient energy production.

The process involves the wind turning the turbine blades, which then drive a generator to produce electricity. This electricity is transmitted through underwater cables to the mainland, where it is distributed to the grid. Offshore wind farms are significant investments in renewable energy, contributing to reducing reliance on fossil fuels and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Their development and maintenance require specialized ships, crew, and technology.

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Types and Causes of Offshore Wind Farm Accidents

  1. Falls from Heights: Workers slipping or falling from turbines, platforms, or ladders.
  2. Machinery Accidents: Involving heavy machinery used in installation and maintenance, leading to crushing or trapping injuries.
  3. Electrical accidents: High voltage systems pose risks of electrocution.
  4. Transportation-Related Accidents: Occurring during the transportation of personnel and equipment, leading to collisions or injuries during boarding or disembarking.
  5. ‘Struck By’ Accidents: Workers being hit by moving objects or equipment.

Contributing Factors:

  1. Inadequate training and Lack of Experience: The complex skills required for offshore operations are often lacking.
  2. Poor Weather Conditions: High winds and rough seas significantly increase the risk of accidents.
  3. Equipment Failure: Due to design flaws, manufacturing defects, or inadequate maintenance.
  4. Ineffective Safety Guidelines: Lack of proper safety measures and personal protective equipment.
  5. Communication Breakdowns: Issues between crew members and during coordination of complex operations contribute to accidents.

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Common Types of Victims in Offshore Wind Farm Accident Cases

Victims of offshore wind farm accidents primarily include the workers at these places. These individuals are often technicians responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of wind turbines. Other common victims include operators and crew members of vessels used for transportation to and from the wind farms. In some cases, engineers and inspectors who visit the site for evaluation and quality control purposes may also fall victim to accidents. In rare instances, support staff, including those involved in logistics and supply chain operations for offshore wind farms, may also be at risk.

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Where Offshore Wind Farm Accidents Occur

In the United States, offshore wind farm accidents are likely to occur in areas where facilities are either operational or under development. In Washington, potential sites for these accidents are along the state’s coastal regions, where wind farm development is being considered. California, with its coastline, also has several zones identified for offshore wind energy, making it a probable location for accidents. Oregon’s coast, known for its strong winds, is another area where these incidents can occur, as the state explores offshore wind energy. Alaska, with its vast and challenging coastline, is also a potential site for offshore wind farm accidents, especially in areas identified for wind energy development. The surrounding sea areas of these states, known for their harsh conditions, are significant contributors to the risk of accidents in these locations.

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Potential Liable Parties for Offshore Wind Farm Accidents

In an offshore wind farm accident, figuring out who’s responsible can get complicated. The company that owns the wind farm is often at the top of the list because they’re in charge of making sure everything works right and safely. If they didn’t do their job in maintaining equipment or training their employees properly, they could be liable.

Then there are the contractors and subcontractors who might be working on the farm. If one of these companies cut corners or didn’t follow safety rules, they might also be on the hook. If the accident was caused by faulty or defective equipment, the company that made that equipment could be responsible.

Even the owner of the ship that transports workers to and from the wind farm could share in the blame if the accident happened on board or if the ship’s condition contributed to the accident. Each of these parties has a role in maintaining a safe working environment, and if they fail to do so, they could be liable for any accidents that happen as a result.

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Legal Options for Victims of Offshore Wind Farm Accidents

When a victim of an offshore wind farm accident decides to file a lawsuit, they often look into claims of negligence under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness under general maritime laws. If the employer didn’t provide a safe place to work or the ship wasn’t seaworthy, meaning it wasn’t safe to work on or wasn’t equipped properly, the victim could have a case. They need to show that their employer or the ship’s condition played a part in their accident.

Additionally, victims can also file general maritime injury lawsuits. These suits can be against parties other than their employer or the ship’s owner, like equipment manufacturers, contractors, or even the wind farm owner, if they are different from the employer. These lawsuits focus on who else might have been careless or didn’t do what they were supposed to do to prevent the accident. This approach allows victims to explore all possible avenues to hold responsible parties accountable for their role in the accident.

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Potential Damages in Offshore Wind Farm Accident Cases

Under the Jones Act, which is for people who work on ships or offshore, victims could request compensation if they got hurt because of negligence. The damages in these cases can include medical costs, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Unseaworthiness claims cover similar damages.

Seamen can also get maintenance and cure, which means the ship owner has to pay for their living expenses and medical bills until they’re better. If the worst happens and someone dies, the victim’s family can make a wrongful death claim under the Jones Act, seeking compensation for things like lost wages and emotional pain.

For those not covered by the Jones Act, like some workers on offshore wind farms, general maritime personal injury cases come into play. These cases are against parties other than the victim’s employer, such as equipment manufacturers or other contractors. The damages in these cases can include medical costs, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Then there’s the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which covers dock workers and others who work on the waterfront, but not the crew of the ships. This act provides compensation without having to prove someone was at fault. Eligible workers can get benefits for medical treatment, compensation for lost wages while they’re unable to work, and vocational rehabilitation if they can’t return to their previous job. If a worker dies from their injuries, the LHWCA provides benefits to their dependents. This way, different laws ensure that those injured or families of those lost in offshore wind farm accidents can seek and receive support for the challenges they face.

If a victim is partially at fault for the accident, under federal law, their compensation may be reduced in proportion to their amount of fault. This rule, known as comparative negligence, applies to certain claims under the Jones Act and other maritime laws, impacting the total amount of damages a victim can receive.

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Steps to Take After the 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.

Maritime workers have specific time frames for filing claims. For negligence claims under the Jones Act and claims of unseaworthiness under general maritime law, the statute of limitations is set at three years from the injury date. The LHWCA requires claims to be filed within one year from when the injury occurred.

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Additional Resources

Green Job Hazards

OSHA provides an overview of potential hazards associated with jobs in the wind energy sector, stressing the importance of safety measures and training. The content is aimed at ensuring workers are protected from risks in the construction and maintenance of wind turbines. This resource is part of OSHA’s effort to address and mitigate job-related hazards in the growing green energy industry.

Wind Energy Projects and Safety

The U.S. Department of Energy outlines the safety record and considerations for wind turbines, emphasizing their reliability and the measures taken to mitigate risks. Despite the modern fleet’s size, turbine failures are rare, with strategies in place for issues like blade icing and potential blade throws. The article indicates that with over 40,000 turbines installed across the United States, incidents are uncommon.

Biden-Harris Administration Approves Sixth Offshore Wind Project

The Biden-Harris administration has approved the Empire Wind project, marking the sixth commercial-scale offshore wind energy project under President Biden. Situated off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, this project aims to power over 700,000 homes annually with up to 147 turbines. This initiative is part of a goal to use 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

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Hire an Offshore Wind Farm Accident Attorney

The lawyers at Boatlaw, LLP are experienced accident injury attorneys who are ready to provide strong legal assistance in seeking financial compensation for victims of offshore wind farm accidents. If you’ve been injured, we’re just a call away.

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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