What Evidence Is Needed To Establish Negligence in Offshore Accident Lawsuits?

If you’ve been in an offshore accident, you deserve to be compensated for the damages you’ve suffered due to the negligence of others. Offshore environments present unique risks, however, and sometimes pinpointing who or what was at fault can be a challenge. A Houston, TX offshore accident attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove who was at fault.

Negligence in Offshore Accident Lawsuits

Negligence is a breach of the duty of care owed by one party to another. In the context of offshore accidents, this typically means that an employer, equipment manufacturer, or other related party failed to uphold a certain standard of safety, and this led to the accident. Establishing this negligence requires demonstrating four main elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.


In the offshore working environment, “duty” pertains primarily to maintaining a safe working environment. For instance, companies operating offshore oil rigs have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees. This duty encompasses a wide range of obligations, from ensuring that all equipment is in good working condition to providing adequate safety training.

To establish negligence in your case, you must first establish that the negligent party owed you a duty of care in the first place. You can usually do this through the presentation of evidence like employment contracts, safety guidelines, industry standards, or federal and state regulations pertaining to offshore operations.

If, for instance, an oil company fails to adhere to standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this could be evidence of a duty not being fulfilled. Showing that the oil company was required to meet certain standards, and what those standards were, is the first step.

Breach of Duty

Once the duty has been established, it becomes crucial to demonstrate how it was breached. This can be a more complex step, as it necessitates providing concrete proof that the responsible party failed in their obligations.

For example, if an equipment manufacturer supplied machinery that was flawed in its design or construction, and this led to an accident, this can be considered a breach. Likewise, if an employer did not provide necessary safety training or failed to replace or repair faulty equipment, they could be deemed negligent.

Typically, proving a breach means providing evidence such as maintenance logs, internal memos, testimonies from fellow employees, and inspection records play a pivotal role in proving a breach. Photographic or video evidence of the accident scene can also be particularly impactful.


With duty and breach established, the next step is to show that the breach directly resulted in the offshore accident that caused your injuries. Causation is often where negligence cases encounter challenges. Even with a breach of duty in play, if it can’t be shown that the breach itself actually led to the accident, the negligence argument may be weak.

To prove causation, it’s helpful to have expert testimonies. For example, an engineer might testify that a specific equipment malfunction, which was a result of the company’s negligence in maintenance, directly led to an accident. Medical experts can also provide insights on how certain injuries are consistent with specific types of accidents or equipment failures. Your medical records can be helpful here, too, and your Houston, TX offshore accident attorney will be able to advise you on what expert testimony you need.


The final step is to show that the accident resulted in losses to you, also called damages. Damages can be physical, such as injuries or death, but they can also be emotional or financial. Medical bills, therapy costs, lost wages due to inability to work, and even mental trauma are all valid forms of damages.

Evidence like medical records, bills, wage slips, and even personal testimonies can effectively showcase the extent of the damages you’ve suffered due to the accident.

Complications Unique to Offshore Environments

Offshore environments have characteristics that can make negligence cases challenging compared to onshore accidents. Given the isolated nature of many offshore operations, it can be harder to obtain evidence, for example. In addition, weather conditions, water currents, and the constant movement of rigs or vessels can alter accident scenes rapidly, potentially erasing crucial evidence.

Moreover, the maritime laws that govern offshore operations differ from those that apply in standard personal injury laws. For example, the Jones Act covers seamen injured on the job, granting them the right to sue their employers directly in cases of negligence. This act, along with others, such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, have nuances that can influence how negligence is approached and proven. For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that you work with an attorney specifically experienced in offshore accidents and maritime law.

Witnesses in Offshore Cases

One of the best resources for establishing negligence in offshore accident lawsuits is often eyewitness testimony. Colleagues often witness accidents firsthand, and their testimonies can provide excellent evidence. It’s vital, however, to approach these testimonies with care and sensitivity, given the traumatic nature of many offshore accidents.

At the same time, it’s also important to secure these testimonies promptly. Memories can fade or become influenced over time, so clear, early statements may be considered more reliable in court. Bear in mind, too, that it can be difficult to obtain the testimonies you need if you wait too long, since maritime workers frequently move on from one job to another, which can be in another state or even another country. The sooner you connect with your lawyer and get started, the better.

Documentation and Records

While witnesses bring the human perspective, documentation serves as an unchangeable record of events, decisions, and operations. Maintenance logs, equipment purchase records, safety inspection reports, and internal communications can all be vital in piecing together the sequence of events leading up to an accident.

For instance, if a maintenance log shows that a piece of machinery had repeatedly been flagged for issues but no action was taken, it can be a clear sign of negligence.

Third-Party Involvement

Offshore operations often involve multiple parties beyond the main employer and employee, like contractors, subcontractors, equipment suppliers, and more. Each entity might have contractual obligations that delineate their responsibilities, and these contracts can be crucial in determining if any of these parties might have been negligent.

Safety Protocols

When accidents occur, a review of safety protocols and their adherence is indispensable, and any failures here can be used as evidence in your case. If a company fails to create comprehensive safety protocols or does not ensure their strict implementation, this can establish their negligence.

On the other hand, if these protocols were in place and were being enforced, but an individual worker or a third-party contractor disregarded the protocols, then the responsibility may lie with them rather than with the employer. Working through all this requires an in-depth examination of training records, safety drills, and audit reports, as well as witness testimony and any video footage that might be available.

Working with a Houston, TX Offshore Accident Attorney

Given the specialized nature of maritime laws, general personal injury attorneys are usually not equipped to handle your case. Moreover, offshore companies often have substantial legal and financial resources at their disposal, making it imperative for you as the victim to have strong, informed representation in your corner.

Our team is dedicated to ensuring victims and their families receive the compensation and justice they deserve, and we have extensive experience in handling offshore negligence cases in Texas.

Victims of offshore accidents deserve justice and appropriate compensation for the damages they’ve endured. Contact us at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner today for your free initial consultation.