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Injured Oil Rig Workers File Third-Party Actions

On the heels of 29 deaths from a Virginia coal mine collapse in April 2010 came the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil rig explosion resulted in 11 dead and ...

On the heels of 29 deaths from a Virginia coal mine collapse in April 2010 came the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil rig explosion resulted in 11 dead and 17 serious injured, as well as one of the worst U.S. environmental disasters in history. These two high-profile workplace tragedies have led to questions regarding employer and third-party liability in work-related injuries.

Typically, a person injured at work is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In some cases, however, workers’ compensation benefits are not enough to cover medical treatment or adequately compensate surviving family members for the loss of a loved one.

In many workplace accidents — particularly those that occur in dangerous jobs like offshore drilling — a third party may be liable.

Is Transocean Liable as a Third Party, or Just BP?

It is not yet clear exactly who is liable for the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The oil rig was owned by Transocean Ltd. and was under contract to BP. At the time of the explosion, 126 workers were on board: 79 Transocean employees, six BP employees, and 41 contractors. Thus, the employees appear to fall under the oversight of several different entities, and lawsuits alleging negligence have been filed against both BP and Transocean.

One of BP’s partners, Anadarko Petroleum, owner of a twenty-five percent stake in the well, believes that the explosion may have been caused by BP’s gross negligence. Anadarko CEO Jim Hackett noted that information uncovered in the investigation suggests that BP was operating unsafely and failed to heed critical warning signs.

“BP's behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct and thus affect the obligations of the parties under the operating agreement,” Hackett said.

Those injured as a result of the oil rig explosion are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Injured workers, depending on who employed them, may have valid third-party claims against BP and Transocean for additional compensation. At least eleven families of crew members killed or injured in the explosion have already filed suit against BP and Transocean.

Third Party Claims in Arizona

Injured workers generally may not sue their employers in court; they are entitled only to the benefits allowed under workers' compensation. And, in many states, injured parties cannot collect both workers' compensation and pursue a third-party claim.

Arizona is different in that it allows workers to receive workers' compensation and sue third parties who may also be liable for their injuries. If you have been injured on the jobPsychology Articles, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you as to whether you have a viable claim against a third party.

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Traumatic personal injury lawyers Solomon & Relihan are available for a free consultation.  Visit online or call 602-336-6144.



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