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The Value of Experienced Counsel Following Maritime Disasters

The recent explosion and subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore drilling platform owned and operated by Houston-based company Transocean, has left 11 oil rig workers missing and several more injured. As the families of those 11 workers continue to wait, the chances of rescue workers finding survivors are dwindling.

The injuries sustained in oil rig explosions can be horrible– and often fatal. At this point, responsibility becomes very important. Family members want to know what happened and why; their best asset in the search for answers is help from attorneys with experience in handling civil cases stemming from these offshore catastrophes.

The Search for Answers

Unfortunately, many oil rig explosions are preventable and investigation in civil suits reveals that they are usually caused by human error or administrative oversight.

This was the case in the explosion of the Piper Alpha, the deadliest oil rig explosion in history. Miscommunication, poor safety processes and inadequate fire walls contributed to the explosions and ensuing fire, which killed more than 160 men aboard the rig. This is a case with which
Mike Doyle

is intimately familiar, having served as an attorney for victim lawsuits following the Piper Alpha tragedy.

In 2008 six crewmembers aboard the Jillian Morrison were injured in an explosion that took place while the vessel was anchored off the coast of Louisiana. The Jillian Morrison is a dive support vessel, and the crewmembers had been working on a pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico . Doyle currently represents several of those who were injured in the blast.

Transocean is no stranger to lawsuits, having been sued in the past by several victims of oil rig accidents. Transocean’s location in Houston means that they are no stranger to Doyle, either: Maritime attorneys at the firm have worked on behalf of several of these victims, as well as others injured by oil rig operator negligence and other preventable mistakes.

Trying to get the upper hand in litigation with victims, companies such as Transocean will often preemptively file suit against the victims, hoping to control the forum in which potential cases are tried. At least one lawsuit stemming from this accident has already been filed in Houston.

Next Step in the Process

Cases of this type are complex, and will require extensive preparation and investigation. Currently, the rig is still spilling oil into the Gulf; we would anticipate that, as soon as the situation had been stabilized, federal and state authorities — including the United States Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service — will begin investigating the cause of the accident. Counsel for the injured workers and their families will play an integral role in this investigation. It is important that those who were injured in the blast or the families of those killed retain experienced counsel as soon as possible.