Oil Spill Legal Overview

On April 21, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which was operated by the BP exploded and submerged in the Gulf of Mexico several days after. It was truly a tragedy for the families of the oil rig workers who were hurt and injured or even died. And as the oil spill scattered, the tragedy now became a disaster. The oil polluted the wetlands, closed some small businesses, and showed a regulatory system that might not have lived up to its legal and principle responsibilities.

This overview summarizes the common kinds of legal actions that can come up from disaster such as the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Jones Act

There were 11 workers who died and some suffered injuries during the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon incident. Since the incident happened at the sea, the responsibility for the deaths of the workers, as well as the injuries, are protected by the Jones Act. Jones Act gives seamen the right to sue their employers for negligent acts, aside from the common law ability to ask for compensation for their health care and maintenance compensation during their injury. If the seamen or their families can show intentional misconduct of their employer, then they may recover the punitive damages.

Toxic Tort/Nuisance Complaints

Crude oil is considered as toxic substance that can injure or kill people, plants, and animals. The oil can seep into the groundwater and contaminate drinking wells and food sources. The smoke from the oil of spill can travel hundreds of miles inland and can make people very sick. The injuries can increase personal injury lawsuits against the owners and operators of the Deepwater Horizon.

Financial Damage

There are many businesses, particularly in fishing and tourist industries, that are severely affected by the oil spill incident. The owners of these businesses may file lawsuits for the financial or economic damage they suffer as a consequence of the oil spill.

Environmental Regulatory

There are several environmental advocacy groups that filed lawsuits against the federal government for their negligence in the Deepwater Horizon explosion particularly and offshore drilling. A particular lawsuit claims that the government unlawfully permitted BP to drill for more than 5,000 feet of water without knowing and analyzing the blow-out and worst-case oil spill review. You can expect to witness more of these kinds of lawsuits as the reasons and effects of the Gulf oil spill become obvious.

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