Texas Maritime Law Attorneys Support New Oil Spill Legislation

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Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin of the Houston maritime law firm of Arnold & Itkin LLP say proposed federal legislation would force oil companies to focus on the safety of their offshore oil workers.

Kurt Arnold

The only ones who would be opposed to these new rules are oil companies that put profits ahead of the health and safety of their offshore workers and care little about the businesses and residents of the Gulf Coast.

Texas maritime accident lawyer Kurt Arnold said today that he fully supports proposed federal legislation that would remove liability caps for negligent oil companies and protect oil industry whistleblowers.

“The only ones who would be opposed to these new rules are oil companies that put profits ahead of the health and safety of their offshore workers and care little about the businesses and residents of the Gulf Coast,” said Arnold, a partner in the Houston, Texas, maritime law firm of Arnold & Itkin LLP.

“Those oil companies need to understand that the Deepwater Horizon disaster changed everything. Offshore workers, Gulf Coast residents and lawmakers aren’t going to put up with careless oil drilling practices anymore,” Arnold said. “This legislation reflects that determination. It’s geared toward ensuring safety and deterring negligent drilling by the oil companies.”

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee introduced the bill in late January. The reforms build on legislation that passed the House last year in response to the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 offshore oil workers, injured several others and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The reforms also reflect recommendations from the final report issued January 11 by the National Commission on BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, including:

  •     Establishing unlimited liability for oil companies for damages that result from an oil spill (the current federal cap is $75 million);
  •     Strengthening safety oversight by creating a dedicated funding stream to federal agencies that are in charge of regulating offshore oil drilling;
  •     Denying drilling permits or offshore oil leases to companies with a history of worker safety violations and fines; and
  •     Providing whistleblower protection for workers who are involved with offshore oil and gas drilling, exploration and production. Federal law currently provides no protection for oil drilling industry whistleblowers.

“As we’ve discovered, many offshore oil workers had concerns about safety issues on the Deepwater Horizon before the explosion occurred, but they didn’t want to come forward because they feared retaliation,” said Jason Itkin, an experienced offshore worker injury attorney and a co-founding partner of Arnold & Itkin.

“If these whistleblower protections had been in place before the Deepwater Horizon event occurred, it could have possibly prevented the physical, emotional and financial losses that have affected countless offshore oil workers, commercial fishermen, tourism businesses and others throughout the Gulf Coast region,” Itkin said.

About Arnold & Itkin LLP

The maritime lawyers at Arnold & Itkin LLP, a Houston personal injury law firm, understand the complexities and legalities of maritime law and have a successful track record of verdicts and settlements in favor of offshore workers.

The law firm provides legal guidance on all aspects of maritime law and the benefits that offshore workers are entitled to under the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, the principle of maintenance and cure, or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, the firm features accident lawyers, investigators and financial advisors to assist Texas offshore workers, Gulf Coast commercial fishermen or other persons and businesses impacted by the Gulf Coast BP oil spill.

Arnold & Itkin LLP handles maritime claims at port cities along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The firm can be contacted toll free at (866) 222-2606 or through its website.

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