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How Does the Jones Act Affect Oil Rig Workers?

Oil rig workers are commonly exposed to numerous life-threatening dangers on the job including malfunctioning heavy equipment, falls, explosions from combustible materials, and electrocutions. As a result of these risks, Congress passed the Jones Act, which gives injured oil and gas rig workers the right to hold their employers liable for any negligent acts that caused an accident which resulted in the victim sustaining injuries and other losses.
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Have you or a loved one been seriously injured or killed in an oil rig accident? If so, you should contact our oil rig accident lawyers immediately for a free consultation. You may be entitled to maximum compensation for your serious injuries and our law firm can help.

The legal team of trial lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, represents accident victims and is one of the only firms with knowledge of maritime law willing to pursue oil rig accident cases throughout the entire United States.

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What is the Jones Act?

The Merchant Marine act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act, was enacted to create a safe network of merchant mariners within the United States following World War I, in reaction to the American fleet being destroyed by the German navy. The act requires all goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported by U.S. vessels (and operated primarily by Americans). It further calls for providing the nation with a merchant marine that can transport goods between U.S. ports, increase national security during times of war, and support a U.S. maritime industry.

Are Offshore Oil Rigs Considered Vessels According to the Jones Act?

Under the Jones Act, an oil rig is considered a vessel, which means that employees injured on the job are entitled to rights and benefits under maritime law. The definition of a vessel according to 46 CFR 197.204 is as follows:

Vessel means any waterborne craft including mobile offshore drilling units required to have a Certificate of Inspection issued by the Coast Guard or any waterborne craft connected with a deepwater port or within the deepwater port safety zone, or any waterborne craft engaged in activities related to the Outer Continental Shelf.

Based on this definition, in most cases an oil rig is considered a vessel and is covered by maritime law.

How Does the Jones Act Affect the Oil Industry?

The Jones Act restricts the domestic waterborne transportation of oil, gas, and other goods to vessels that are U.S.-flagged and built, as well as mostly U.S.-crewed and owned. Meeting these requirements isn’t cheap for the oil industry. A U.S.-built tanker costs nearly 4 times more than one built overseas ($150 million versus $40 million), while operating costs for the oil and gas industries are also significantly higher. The inevitable result is expensive shipping rates that can make it cost-prohibitive to transport oil within the U.S., thus making imports more attractive for many companies.

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Is an Oil Platform Considered a Ship?

Platforms are stationary structures while vessels are large ships responsible for transporting oil, supplies, and workers. However, certain vessels such as drilling rigs blur the line between vessel and platform by taking on the duties of both.

Is a Drilling Rig a Vessel?

Under the Jones Act, an oil drilling rig is classified as a vessel, which means that workers injured on a rig are afforded certain rights and benefits under maritime law.

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The oil rig accident attorneys at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, are dedicated to protecting the rights of severely injured oilfield workers, and our experienced personal injury lawyers are willing to handle oil rig explosion litigation throughout the entire United States.

Again, if you or a loved one has suffered oil field injuries, you should contact our oil field accident lawyers immediately by using the form below or calling an accident lawyer toll-free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Injured oil rig workers and offshore workers may be able to seek compensation for lost wages and medical bills from an oil company in a personal injury lawsuit and an oil field injury lawyer can help.

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