When an accident occurs on an oil platform out in the Gulf of Mexico, there are almost always several parties involved in the operation. Those parties consist of the oil company that owns the rights to extract oil in the Gulf, the company that drills for the oil, the company that owns the digging equipment, and others. Because there are various parties with different interests, the “borrowed servant doctrine” becomes relevant. When someone is injured, his or her remedies for redress may depend on whether the injured person falls under the borrowed servant doctrine.
Borrowed Servant Doctrine
Employees injured on the job have redress under a specific state’s workers’ compensation laws or under the Federal Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, better known as the LHWCA. In general, workers on an oil platform would fall under the LHCWA. These types of workers’ compensation are generally limited and protect the employer.
If, however, the injured party is considered a “seaman” under the Jones Act, the injured party can potentially collect significantly more based on the injury (see previous posts with respect to redress and remedies under the Jones Act).
The borrowed servant doctrine, if leveraged correctly, can provide an injured worker on an oil platform, under certain circumstances, with redress under the Jones Act. Therefore, if you have been injured in an accident, understanding this doctrine is crucial to how much you can collect from your employer.
It may be that under the injured party’s initial employer, he or she is a longshoreman or harbor worker and therefore, in theory, limited to compensation under the LHCWA. However, via invoking the borrowed servant doctrine, the injured person can be considered a seaman because his or her employment has been “borrowed” by and employer covered under the Jones Act.
Determining the Application of the Borrowed Servant Doctrine
The facts and circumstances of each case will determine whether to apply the borrowed servant doctrine. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in the 1988 case of Ruiz v. Shell Oil Co. created a nine step test for determining whether an employee is considered a borrowed servant:
“(1) who has control over the employee and the work he is performing, beyond mere suggestion of details or cooperation;
(2) whose work is being performed by the employee;
(3) whether an agreement, understanding, or meeting of the minds exists between the nominal and the borrowing employer;
(4) whether the employee acquiesced in the new work situation;
(5) whether the original employer terminated his relationship with the employee;
(6) who furnished the employee’s tools and place of performance;
(7) whether the employee’s new employment was over a considerable length of time;
(8) whether the nominal or the borrowing employer had the right to discharge the employee; and
(9) whether the nominal or the borrowing employer had the obligation to pay the employee.”
If you are working on an oil platform and have been injured in an accident, know your rights. You may be entitled to more than just workers’ compensation. Contact The Kolodny Law Firm, a maritime injury law firm.
(image courtesy of Clyde Thomas)