Oil Rig Accident Injuries – Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are not unheard of in oil rig accidents. A strike to the head by a heavy object, slip, trip, and fall, or even a fall overboard into the water can lead to brain trauma, even if it is triggered by a lack of oxygen. Fires and explosions can easily cause long-lasting harm and can also have neurological consequences.
In the scope of injuries that can affect an employee’s ability to work, this type is right at the top of the list. The brain controls a person’s ability to move and think. Broken bones often heal without lasting effects, but the neurological damage has the potential to be permanent even if the initial injury is just to a small area. Also, not all the mechanisms involved in healing and recovery are fully understood. The symptoms associated with the trauma may not be seen for weeks later. That can make it difficult to predict when a rig worker will return to their job and determine what their ultimate role there can be post-accident.
Causes of Oil Rig Brain Injuries
An injury can occur if heavy equipment hits someone in the head. The skull may or may not be bruised, broken, or penetrated for trauma to occur. In fact, many victims of brain trauma are involved in slip and fall incidents. Excessive movement can lead to damage called diffuse axonal shearing. This occurs when the brain moves back and forth so quickly that the axons of nerve cells compress and stretch, until the tear. A neuron can’t recover from this and dies.
A brain injury can also be chemical in nature. Damage from chemicals can upset metabolism and cause permanent cellular impairment. Solvents, lead, and many other compounds can be toxic, as can be gases such as carbon monoxide. Hypoxia can also have potentially devastating effects. A lack of oxygen caused by being in the water or a confined, low-oxygen space can take just a few minutes to cause permanent damage that can affect a person’s cognitive abilities and memory.
Similar to land-based workers’ compensation, the Jones Act allows employees injured on the job to obtain recoverable damages. Maintenance and cure is an allowance to cover expenses for daily necessities, including medical bills and is provided until the individual improves as much as they ever will. With a brain injury, this fact is often uncertain and can take some time to figure out.
Other damages can be recovered as well. The liability of the owner or person in control of the rig at the time the injury occurred may focus on whether they promoted a safe working environment. Maintenance of equipment and the support and training provided to the crew are important as well. If negligence can be proven, an oil rig employee who suffers brain trauma may be eligible to receive other types of damages. The condition of the facility is an important factor to consider in any injury case and often has a direct correlation with personal injuries that occur on board.