It is no secret that working offshore can be very dangerous work. Because the maritime industry has been around for centuries, the law in the United States has been able to develop so that there are a lot of rules and regulations governing the responsibilities maritime companies must uphold to keep their offshore workers safe. These companies have the advantage of knowing their responsibilities, but that doesn't mean they share this knowledge with their employees. What that means is that many maritime workers who become injured do not know their rights and simply trust in their employer to "do the right thing."
Working offshore or on vessels usually means you have a relatively good income to take care of yourself or your family. Life doesn't stop after you've been injured. If your offshore income is what keeps your bills at bay and house afloat, its easy to want to place faith in your employer after you get injured on the job. The problem is that your employer wants you to trust them for the wrong reasons.
On Thursday, a federal judge for the first time found that BP was indeed the primary culprit and that only it had acted with "conscious disregard of known risks." He added that BP's "conduct was reckless." By finding that BP was, in legal parlance, grossly negligent in the disaster, and not merely negligent, United States District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier opened the possibility of $18 billion in new civil penalties for BP, nearly quadruple the maximum Clean Water Act penalty for simple negligence and far more than the $3.5 billion the company has set aside.