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One Year Later: Oil Companies Remain Shielded by Offshore Liability Limits


The worst oil spill in U.S. history was set off last year by the Deepwater Horizon disaster which claimed 11 men at sea. The tragedy exposed several weaknesses, including severely outdated limited liability laws that have protected the very players who should be claiming responsibility, according to a Brooklyn Personal Injury Lawyer.

Because the wrongful death of the 11 men occurred offshore, the corporations and its contractors were shielded by maritime laws of limited liability. According to these laws, the companies can only be sued for future wages, minus taxes and expected living expenses – not for pain and suffering and other damages commonly sued for in the case of fatal onshore activities.

Congress has been called upon to raise or completely lift the limit; it wasn’t long before Congressmen and women were being chastised for their inactivity in the affair. One champion of the victims’ families stated, “It hasn’t been changed in 20 years. It really shows you how inadequate it is. You’re in a situation where either taxpayers end up footing the bill, or injured parties do, which seems fundamentally unfair.”

The Oil Pollution Act caps the amount of damages a corporation has to pay out. Fortunately, under public pressure, some companies volunteer not to invoke those limits. This highlights the possible problem that is likely to arise again, stated a New York Personal Injury Lawyer. Another accident at sea will happen, but if the next affair is not highly publicized, the corporation at fault may then see it possible to maintain protection behind the liability limit. Without public opinion against them, companies will not feel it politically expedient to repair grievances to their full capacity; they will not make voluntarily larger settlements.

“It needs to be changed,” the father of one victim exclaims. “If all these companies can care about is money, then they need to keep in mind that when they put men at risk, that costs money too. If you can’t bring yourself to consider it for any other reason, think of it this way.”

Injury at the hands of company misuse or neglect requires the attention of qualified legal counsel. Let these professionals respond to your claims and seek to make such companies adequately compensate you. Contact Stephen Bilkis and Associates for advice and guidance.

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