Offshore Helicopter Accidents

Helicopters are frequently used in offshore oil and gas extraction operations, and they are sometimes involved in tragic accidents. Offshore helicopter crashes typically occur during transport of workers to an oil rig. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 49 workers were killed in offshore helicopter accidents between 2003 and 2010.

Helicopter Accident Law

Offshore oil workers who are victims of a helicopter crash are ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits, so they are forced to pursue recovery under state or federal personal injury laws. When a helicopter accident occurs, litigation may involve a complex web of state tort laws, maritime laws, and aviation regulations. Applicable legislation may include:

  • The Jones Act. This federal admiralty law applies to employees injured or killed on United States waters or between American ports. Personal injury and wrongful death claims stemming from an offshore helicopter accident are sometimes governed by the Jones Act. Victims may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, lost earnings capacity, and pain and suffering.
  • The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). This law applies when fatal offshore helicopter accidents occur more than 12 nautical miles away from shore. DOHSA limits compensation to only allow payment of economic damages to the deceased’s family, such as lost wages and funeral expenses. Generally, no payments are allowed for the loss of the victim’s care, comfort, and companionship. Thus, damages are more limited under DOHSA than under state law.
  • FAA regulations. If the helicopter crash was caused by a regulatory violation, your attorney can likely prove that the pilot, maintenance crew, or other flight personnel were negligent.

Helicopter Crash Representation

If you’ve been injured or lost a family member in a tragic offshore helicopter crash, you need professional representation. The legislation governing these accidents is complex, requiring an attorney experienced in both maritime and Texas law. To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.

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