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Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

If you or a family member are employed at an offshore facility, you already know that working “on a rig” carries a unique set of workplace dangers. While most offshore facilities are dedicated to oil and natural gas exploration/production, the recent emphasis on the construction of offshore wind-driven turbines to produce electricity seems to indicate that such “renewable” energy resources could represent hundreds of new (and well-paying) jobs in those areas of the country that were affected by the recent changes in offshore exploration and production policies.

In today’s post, the maritime workers injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will provide an overview of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and how it benefits offshore workers who were injured while “on-the-job.”


In previous posts we provided an overview of two important federal laws that provide compensation to seamen and maritime workers who are injured on-the-job. These laws are theJones Act and theLongshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

Jones Act

The Jones Act provides the legal framework to compensate the members of a ship’s crew for injuries received at sea.

In general, the Jones Act is superior to state-managed worker’s compensation for several reasons:

  • Jones Act benefits are typically more generous than state Workmen’s Compensation benefits
  • The right to receive “maintenance and cure” regardless of who was at fault in an injury
  • The right to sue an employer for negligence, regardless of the extent to which an act contributed to an injury
  • The right to sue the owner of an “unseaworthy” vessel
  • Allows payment of benefits for permanent partial disability

The Jones Act generally applies only to ships’ crewmen, although there are certain exceptions that may come into play. Since these exceptions can be quite technical, from a legal point of view, they are best explained by a maritime injury lawyer who is aware of the specific facts of a given Jones Act injury case.

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)

As mentioned above, the Jones Act applies only when there is an injury to a member of a ship’s crew and only when a ship is operating under a specific set of conditions. In the late 1920s, Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) to provide workers’ compensation-like benefits to those who workon or near waterways that are used by commercial shipping interests but arenot classified as “seamen” under the definition used in the Jones Act.

Like the Jones Act, benefits provided under the LHWCA are more generous that those available under the typical state Workmen’s Compensation program. With certain exceptions, LHWCA and Jones Act benefits are essentially the same.

Unlike the Jones Act, which is largely drawn from admiralty law (the “Law of the Sea”), the LHWCAdoes not allow an injured worker to sue an employer alleging that the employer’s negligence was the cause of an injury. In this respect, the LHWCA is similar to state workers’ compensation programs: both are “faultless,” meaning that the worker does not have to prove that his or her employer’s negligence caused an injury but, in exchange for benefits that begin relatively soon after an injury, the worker agreesnot to sue the employer.

Neither the Jones Act nor the LHWCA make mention of crewmen or other workers employed on offshore drilling or exploration platforms. Congress corrected this exclusion in 1953 with the enactment of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and its later amendments.

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)

As it relates to personal injury and workers’ compensation law, OCSLA extends the benefits provided to longshoremen and other port workers to those workers employed in offshore oil and gas production as well as in exploration and development of seabed natural resources. More recently, the U.S. Department of Labor has amended OCSLA to include those workers that are involved in the construction and maintenance of offshore wind-driven turbines used to create electricity.

Benefits available under OCSLA are essentially identical to those provided under LHWCA, and OCSLA retains the “no lawsuit” provision of LHWCA. However, it is sometimes possible to file what is known as a “third party” lawsuit against someone whose negligence caused an on the job injuryif that “third party” isnot the employer and isnot a co-worker of the injured worker. The limitations on “third party” lawsuits are quite complicated and are best explained by a maritime injury lawyer.

Why you need an OCSLA lawyer

In the maritime industries, every injured worker has the right to receive compensation for his or her injuries. This compensation includes payment of all medical expenses related to treating those injuries as well as income support while the worker is physically unable to work. To ensure that each injured worker receives a fair settlement of their injury claim, it is often necessary to retain the services of a maritime workers’ compensation lawyer.

When searching for a maritime workers’ compensation lawyer, you will need a lawyer who:

  • understands the overall workers’ compensation system
  • is familiar with the various federal workers’ compensation programs, particularly OCSLA
  • is comfortable in dealing with employers and insurance carriers
  • is ready to defend the client’s right to fair compensation

One such lawyer is the maritime injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide personal injury law practice with offices located in major cities throughout the country.

When you contact the maritime injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm to arrange a free review of your OCSLA injury case, your first consultation with our firm is always free of charge and does obligate you to hire us to represent you in court. Should you later decide that you want us to act as your legal counsel, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.

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