Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ensures fair and adequate compensation for injuries sustained while working on the outer continental shelf.

Under the Act, crew members who work on oil drilling rigs or natural gas exploration platforms and other people working on the outer continental shelf may receive compensation for past and future medical costs, physical pain, physical limitations, and loss of earning capacity.

It also extends the protections afforded to employees under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) to employees involved in exploring, developing, and extracting natural resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS).

Oil rig and harbor workers, longshoremen, and people working in ship repair, shipbuilding, and ship-breaking are generally covered under the act, though it does not protect employees working as crew members on a vessel. Vessel crew are generally covered under the Jones Act.

History of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

By the 1950s, the United States economy was growing in the wake of World War II. As the economy boomed, so did demand for new cars, housing, and other material goods. As a result, oil and gas became hot commodities, and offshore exploration and natural resource extraction grew as industries.

New rules and regulations were enacted as the industry grew. Congress, in 1953, passed the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which formalized federal jurisdiction over the outer continental shelf and created compensation protections for employees stationed on oil rigs, drilling platforms, artificial structures, and other devices built in the OCS.

How the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Helps Texas Employees

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act may allow compensation for people working in oil and natural gas exploration or extraction on the outer continental shelf. Offshore accidents that occur on the OCS — whether in an oil spill or oil rig explosion — can result in serious injuries.

The Act is a complex piece of legislation, as certain criteria must be met for injured employees to receive compensation under its jurisdiction. While an experienced Houston personal injury attorney can explain the complete criteria, the following must generally be true for a claim to be filed under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act:

  • The accident must have happened on a structure erected either permanently or temporarily on the subsoil or seabed of the OCS
  • The accident must not have taken place on a ship or craft
  • An employee must have been developing, exploring, or extracting natural resources when the accident occurred

If these conditions are met, it must then be determined whether federal or state law will dictate the next steps. State law is commonly used in lieu of federal claims, but three criteria must be met for the state of Texas to govern:

  • The accident or injury must have taken place on a structure covered under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
  • Federal maritime law must not apply
  • State law must be consistent with federal law

Maritime Workers’ Rights under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act generally makes it easier for injured employees to receive fair and adequate compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which itself may enable compensation for injured maritime workers who do not qualify under the Jones Act or under Texas workers’ compensation laws.

The act may make compensation available for medical costs, physical limitations, and more. It also enables families of offshore workers involved in fatal accidents to pursue compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one.

How the Houston Maritime Accident Lawyers Can Give You the Support You Need

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our lawyers understand the complexities of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as well as its relationship to the Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

This thorough knowledge gives us the understanding, experience, and resources to win multi-million dollar maritime accident cases. Our Houston personal injury lawyers are known throughout Texas for our impressive work on offshore injury cases and our track record of successfully representing people injured in offshore accidents.

If you or your loved one is the victim of a maritime accident, it is important to work with lawyers who have a significant track record of success. Contact our Houston personal injury lawyers at today to learn how we can help.