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Steven M. Lee, PC

Houston Maritime Lawyer Explains the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

For the men and women who work in Houston’s harbors, on nearby oil rigs, and on Houston-based vessels, work can be dangerous. The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) cover a large majority of workers in the offshore industry, but for some, these two acts simply are not sufficient or applicable. For these workers, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (or OCSLA) may be the answer to getting proper compensation.

OCSLA: A Brief History and Explanation

Following World War II, the oil industry moved from land to sea, as oil companies pushed for offshore exploration and drilling. The Gulf of Mexico proved to be a fruitful opportunity, and several oil fields and wells were operating before the end of the 1940s. In 1953, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act was created to help regulate the land that was submerged beneath navigable waters off of the coastline.

An important addition to this act was a section that addressed employees that are injured or killed while working on the Outer Continental Shelf (or OCS) exploring, developing, removing, or transporting natural resources, namely oil. This section extends the LHWCA to cover these employees, as long as they are neither a crewmember of a vessel or under the employment of the government.

In January of 2012, the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided to strengthen the OCSLA even further in the landmark case of Pacific Operators Offshore LLP v. Valladolid. Juan Valladolid was an employee of Pacific Operators Offshore, and his primary station was on an offshore oil platform. Valladolid was killed while he was working in the company’s onshore processing facility, and his wife filed a claim to receive benefits under the OCSLA extension of the LHWCA.

Initially, a judge decided that Valladolid’s death was not covered by the Act, as his death occurred onshore. Ultimately, after an intense appeal process, it was ruled that Valladolid’s death was the direct result of his work on the OCS. This set an important precedent for oil rig workers across Texas and U.S. coasts.

Texas Oil Workers: Know Your Rights and Coverage and Call a Houston Maritime Lawyer

If you work in oil exploration and development on the OCS and have suffered an injury at work, you do not need to settle for less than you deserve. Call Houston offshore injury attorney Steve Lee at 800-232-3711 to learn how you can receive the compensation that you are owed.


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