What Is The Outer Continental Shelf Land Act and How Does It Affect Maritime Injury Claims?

Offshore Oil websizeIf you work offshore on a rig, you have probably heard of the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act, more commonly referred to as OCSLA. The Outer Continental Shelf refers to the submerged land beginning 3 miles past the shoreline. OCSLA was enacted in order to govern incidents that occur on the subsoil and seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf and all artificial islands and installations permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed erected to exploit offshore oil and gas.

OCSLA is different than most federal statutes since it does not specifically state the remedies available to the victim of an offshore accident. Rather, under OCSLA, each incident has to be analyzed in order to know what law should apply. The general rule is that state laws apply to the extent that they are not inconsistent with federal law. In other words, in order to determine which law applies, one must first analyze if any federal law applies. If it does, such as with maritime accidents occurring on jack-up rigs, submersibles, semi-submersibles, drill ships, derrick barges and pipe laying barges, then federal maritime law applies. But if it does not, such as with maritime accidents occurring on fixed platforms, tension-leg platforms, spars, and compressor stations, then you apply state law. More specifically, it is governed by the laws of the state closest to the platform. Therefore, as you can imagine, whether the offshore platform is located off the coast of Louisiana or Texas can completely change the procedure and remedies available to an offshore accident victim.

OCSLA has been routinely criticized for its lack of specificity. Nevertheless, it has been the law of the offshore land for over 60 years and all signs point to its continued use for years to come. Until Congress changes it mind, any maritime accident victim should ensure that his attorney is knowledgeable not only about maritime law but also the laws of the adjacent states in the Gulf of Mexico to make sure that their rights are protected.

If you or a loved one has suffered an offshore injury, learn about your legal rights from an experienced Louisiana maritime injury attorney by filling out our free, no obligation case review form located on this website.