ADMIRALTY / MARITIME LAW / OFFSHORE ACCIDENTS
The waters off of the Gulf Coast carry many seagoing vessels and are studded with oil and gas rigs. As oil exploration pushes the limits of what is technologically possible and ship traffic increases as businesses seek more cost effective methods of transporting goods, it seems inevitable the number of accidents and injuries increases. The area of law that governs the injuries occurring on ships and other types of vessels is known as admiralty or maritime law.
Maritime workers face unique hazards in the course of employment, which is why a special set of laws, one of which is called the Jones Act, protect them and their rights to compensation for injuries or death. Maritime workers labor aboard fishing boats, supply vessels, yachts, processing vessels, tugs, crew boats, transfer boats, pogie boats, and shrimp boats, but also on jack-up oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Maritime accidents can even occur on helicopters transporting workers to an offshore rig. Maritime workers include seamen, but many also are oil drillers, roustabouts, deckhands, cooks, and riggers.
From an oil rig injury from a rig explosion to a barge injury, to an offshore accident from a slip and fall, our firm is experienced at handling personal injury matters for seamen who are in need of compensation for the injuries they have suffered. Our experience extends to a variety of causes of actions related to admiralty and maritime claims. In fact, Scott Davenport is one of only a few attorneys who have their Transportation Worker ID credentials (“T.W.I.C.”). The TWIC card gives Scott unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities, outer continental shelf facilities, and vessels regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, or MTSA, and all U.S. Coast Guard credentialed merchant mariners.
The Jones Act contains provision that are directed at protecting the rights of seamen. The act allows sailors and other individuals that work on ships, boats, barges, and oil rigs to obtain compensation and/or damages from their employers if they are injured due to the negligence of the ship owner, captain, or fellow crew members.
Employers often fight Jones Act work injury cases by claiming the injured worker did not qualify as a seaman or that the ship or offshore oil rig was not a vessel. Or they offer unreasonably low amounts for maintenance and cure. Our lawyers understand the games employers play to try to deny benefits to injured seamen. We have the experience you need to challenge an employer if you or a member of your family suffered a serious or fatal injury. Always get legal advice before signing any settlement agreement.
Onshore and Offshore Injuries
Accidents can happen to the crew anytime and the Jones Act protects seamen when they are working offshore, in port, or even onshore, if they are on “ship’s business” or “in the service of the ship.” We represent seamen who have been injured in an onshore or offshore accident, such as slipping and falling on the dock or being injured by a forklift while loading a ship.
Unseaworthiness and Other Areas of Employer Liability
An unseaworthiness claim can be pursued if the employer is the owner of a vessel and an injury was caused by an unsafe condition on the vessel. An employer can be held responsible for:
- failing to provide a safe place to work – an unsafe vessel or another place under the employer’s control
- violation of a safety statute
- failing to provide adequate medical care
- negligence of other others under their employ, including the negligent actions of the seaman’s co-workers
Overboard Accidents/Death on the High Seas Act
An employer must search for and attempt to rescue a seaman if he jumps or falls overboard. The search must continue for as long as it is feasible that the seaman could be alive in the water. Failure to do so can result in liability under the Act.
If a seaman dies in an oil-rig accident or other maritime accident, a wrongful death claim could be brought based on the Jones Act, on general maritime law, or on a separate federal statute called the Death on the High Seas Act.