Houston Ship Channel Accident Lawyer

Houston Ship Channel Accident Lawyer

The channel of water that created the Houston Ship Channel was built by widening and dredging the Buffalo Bayou and the Upper Galveston Bay. The ship channel is part of the Port of Houston and has numerous terminals and berthing locations along its 45+ mile channel. The Houston Ship Channel connects the world to the mega petrochemical docks of Exxon Mobil Baytown Complex, Valero, Oxid, Kinder Morgan, Shell, Lyondell, Citgo, Phillips Chevron, Sunoco, Agrifos, SunEdison, BP, the Deer Park Chemical Complex, and major cargo container terminals of Barbour’s Cut and the Bayport Terminal.

While most of the tonnage going through the ship channel and upper Galveston Bay is petrochemical related, the channel is also an important hub for offloading foreign vehicles and cargo containers. With this incredibly large amount of traffic combined with the narrow nature of the channel itself, this lends itself to potential ship to ship, barge to barge and ship to shore accidents and injuries. While Houston and Harris County have been largely spared of any catastrophic accidents, there have been many tugboat – barge and ship accidents with terminals while docking. Additionally, due to the nature of the work loading and unloading cargo and containers from ships and the heavy barge traffic there comes the serious injuries related to numerous tug boat and barge collisions, crane accidents, lifting accidents, ship and barge fires, fuel and chemical leaks, fires and explosions and potentially deadly exposures to benzene and other cancer causing chemicals throughout the entire channel.

If a worker is injured while on a towboat, ship, barge, or vessel in the ship channel or in Galveston Bay, that worker would be entitled to the benefits afforded to him or her under the Jones Act. This includes daily maintenance and cure (medical care) and other legal damages. If the injured workers injuries were caused by a third party other than their Jones Act employer, then a third party lawsuit may be filed against the ship owner, product manufacturer, the crane operator or owner and/or other negligent parties under General Maritime Laws, negligence or other legal remedies available based on the location and facts of the injury.

Houston Ship Channel Injury Lawyer

If you were hurt on a ship, barge, vessel or a dock or terminal along the Houston Ship Channel, we are here to help you. With the many types of confusing maritime laws whether it be the General Maritime Law, the Jones Act, Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Compensation Act or straight Worker’s Comp, individuals should talk to an experienced maritime injury lawyer and find out what laws apply and have their lawyer help maximize the legal damages available for them. Mr. Willis is a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer in Texas with over 30 years of experience in handling accident cases on canals, ship channels, bays, chemical plants, docks, waterways and rivers all over the nation. Call us 24/7 for a Free Consultation at 1-800-883-9858

Fishing Boat Accidents

Fishing Boat Accidents

Hundreds of crew members have died in fishing boat accidents across the country. In 1990, the Aleutian Enterprise sank in the Bering Sea, which took the lives of nine individuals. Eleven years later the Arctic Rose sank in the same area, claiming 15 lives. Most recently, a fishing vessel sank off the New Jersey coast taking the lives of six crew members and leaving only one survivor to provide the details of the frightening fishing accident.

Commercial fishermen have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Injuries on fishing boats usually fall under the Jones Act. When a crew member is injured on a fishing boat, he or she is entitled to compensation, known as maintenance and cure. This compensation is provided while the injured fisherman recovers from the injuries incurred while working on the vessel. The Jones Act also allows workers to collect damages for injuries caused by negligence or an unseaworthy vessel.

A Jones Act lawsuit that claims negligence or unseaworthiness can result in compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish and damages associated with the injury. The amount of damages available in a Jones Act case depends on the details of the accident and should be discussed with a fishing boat injury attorney.

Fishing boat injuries can vary and may include burns, head injury, spinal cord injury and neck injury. There are many causes of fishing boat injuries including slippery decks, bad weather, wire cable and winch injuries, rough weather or high seas, neck and back lifting accidents and defective equipment. Mistakes are often to blame for fishing boat accidents, which can lead to serious injuries, even death. Sometimes fishing boat injury cases involve the negligence of a third party, such as a contractor or someone who works for a different employer. A third party claim can be made in addition to a Jones Act claim.

Fishing boat accident cases can be complex and require the expertise of a Jones Act attorney. Contact our law firm today if you have been injured on a fishing boat. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The legal consultation is free and confidential.

Be aware that there are deadlines to file injury claims and if you wait too long, you could miss your opportunity. Therefore, don’t delay in pursing legal advice regarding your fishing boat injury.

Fish Processing Boat Injuries

Fish Processing Boat Injuries

While the dangers to crew members onboard commercial fishing boats seem obvious, many more serious injuries happen behind closed doors in the fish processing plants and processing boats. Many of these injuries are as a result of poorly maintained equipment, spoiled or poorly prepared or stored foods causing food poisoning, ecoli or listeria, infections from cuts and scrapes, poor lighting resulting in slips and falls, lifting injuries / back injuries, amputations and even death. Many fish processors lose parts of fingers from cutting accidents, traumatic amputations of hands from outdated machinery sometimes used without proper safety guards. Workers in the refrigeration units may be exposed to high pressure ammonia gas leaks. Ammonia inhalation can cause permanent lung damage and scarring, eye and cornea damage, brain damage and even death.

When injuries on a commercial fishing boat or fish processing boat occur, it is extremely important that an injury report or accident report is filed with the supervisor or shift leader and a copy is retained. The injured worker must document the time and place of the event and make sure to describe in the accident report what happened and how it should have been prevented. Names of witnesses along with phone numbers should also be included or at least gathered for future reference.

Injuries to commercial fishermen and fish processing plant workers on a boat, barge or vessel fall under the Jones Act. The injured worker is entitled to receive maintenance and cure benefits similar to workers compensation, but with many more additional damages available against the negligent employer. These Jones Act damages may include monetary compensation for past and future pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life lost wages, and medical expenses.

Under the weekly maintenance and cure benefits, the injured worker the employer (usually through an insurance carrier) is required to pay weekly wages until you have reached maximum medical improvement. If the employer refuses to pay maintenance and provide cure, then the worker has a new and separate cause of action they can file against them for this refusal including attorneys fees and punitive damages for this willful refusal to pay what is owed. The employer is also required to provide needed medical treatment to treat and cure the injury. If the employer refuses, another punitive claim may be filed as well. Lastly under the Jones Act, the injured fisherman or process worker is entitled to full wages until the end of the contract, not just the limited daily wages under maintenance.

Fishing Boat Injury? Talk to a Maritime Injury Attorney Now

Whether you work on a crab boat, a commercial fishing boat, fishing processing ship, trawler or working as a long-liner, deckhand, cook, mechanic, seiner, dredger, gill netter, dragger or working in any capacity on a fishing boat, you have legal rights to compensation under the Jones Act and numerous Maritime Injury laws affording you protection and remedy for your injuries and damages. Call and talk to a Maritime Personal Injury Lawyer about what can be done to protect your rights and maximize your recovery. Call us 24/7 at 1-800-883-9858.

Compensation for Injured Fishermen

The fishing industry is notorious for having some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Working on a fishing boat can be dangerous, as fishermen often work in severe weather and on vessels that have slippery surfaces. Recently, a fishing boat sank off the shore of New Jersey, leaving many fishermen lost at sea.

The fishing boat accident near New Jersey added to the hundreds of deaths among fishermen across the country. In 1991, the Andrea Gaildisappeared on its journey home to Gloucester, taking the lives of six fishermen. In 2001, the Arctic Rose sank in the Bering Sea, claiming the lives of 15 fishermen.

Commercial fishermen are protected under the law and can pursue compensation when they suffer injuries. An injured fisherman has certain legal rights under the Jones Act and is entitled to seek damages when injuries are caused by negligence or an unseaworthy vessel.

A Jones Act lawsuit can result in compensation for pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, disfigurement, mental anguish and other costs associated with the injury. In some cases, negligence by a third party, such as a contractor, is to blame for the fishing boat accident, which can lead to a third party claim.

If you have been injured on a fishing boat, you should contact an experienced fishing boat accident lawyer. Contact our law firm as soon as possible, the initial consultation is free and confidential.

Fishing Vessel Sinks off Southern Coast of New Jersey

The Lady Mary, a 71-foot scallop boat based at Cape May in southern New Jersey, sank at approximately 5:00 AM on Tuesday, March 24, 2009. There were seven people aboard the fishing boat about 75 miles off the coast. The accident is expected to rank among the worst commercial fishing disasters in the history of the United States.

By Tuesday night, only one survivor had been found. Two of the three crew members were pulled from the icy water by a Coast Guard helicopter, but both later died.

More than 100 commercial fishermen have died at sea off the New Jersey coast, since reliable records started being kept in1931.

One of the worst accidents happened in 2001 when the Artic Rose sunk in the Bering Sea, which killed 15 people. The Aleutian Enterprise also sank in the same location in 1990, killing nine people.

All seven crew members in the recent accident off the New Jersey coast were wearing cold-water survival suits, according to the Coast Guard. However, a national search and rescue expert said that chances are not good for survival in 40-degree water.

The survivor, Jose Luis Ariese, told authorities that the members had lifesaving suits and abandoned ship, although he didn’t give a specific reason as to why they left the boat. Ariese had spent at least two hours in the icy water and was treated and released from the hospital.

Serious Injuries Caused by Working on a Vessel

Working on a vessel is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lives are risked every day on the job and serious injuries commonly occur. Old and worn out stairs, missing gangways, wet or oily surfaces, dangerous transfers, poor lighting, defective equipment, falls and collisions with other vessels can all result in serious injuries. Seamen are often victims of back injuries, neck injuries and spinal cord injuries. These injuries are painful and can cause permanent disabilities, prohibiting the injured seaman from returning to work in the same capacity.

Back, Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries

Back injuries, spinal cord injuries and neck injuries can range in symptoms and severity. A serious back or neck injury can leave a maritime worker with chronic pain and limited mobility. Back injuries can include lumbar or lower back sprain or strain. This type of injury can be difficult to diagnosis, especially if there is an underlying disc injury that has not been identified. A back or neck injury can include sciatica, a bulging or herniated disc or fractured vertebrae.

A spinal cord injury caused by working on a vessel can be life altering. It is common for a spinal cord injury to result in permanent disability, paralysis, quadriplegia or paraplegia. The symptoms of a seaman’s spinal cord injury can range depending on where the injury is located on the spine and the severity. Victims of spinal cord injuries frequently experience pain in the spinal cord, loss of movement, loss of sensation, difficulty breathing and trouble walking. Spinal cord injuries must be treated immediately to help the victim achieve the best possible recovery.

Injury Treatment

Medical treatment for back and neck injuries can include bed rest, pain medication, cold therapy, heat therapy and immobilization. Depending on the injury, physical therapy may be recommended. A seaman who received a back injury or neck injury while onboard, may take a while to fully recover. Recovery time can last a few days to several weeks. In some instances, a back injury can cause chronic back pain for years to come.

Spinal cord injuries require more extensive treatment and damage to the spine can never be fully reversed. A maritime worker with a spinal cord injury will need immediate medical treatment and ongoing care. Immediate medical treatment may include pain medication, immobilization of the spine and possibly surgery. Ongoing care will be needed to prevent further problems such as bed sores, blood clots, muscle contractures and de-conditioning. Rehabilitation is usually recommended and a patient may be prescribed medicine for the pain and to control muscle spasms.

Legal Representation for Injured Seamen

A maritime worker with a back injury, neck injury or spinal cord injury may be entitled to compensation. An injured seaman can recover damages for:

  • Lost wages, both past and present
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish

If you or a loved one have suffered a back injury, neck injury or spinal cord injury while working on a vessel contact our law firm immediately. Discuss your case with a maritime attorney for free and learn what legal options are available to you and your family.

Crew Member Assaults

Assaults are common aboard ships and vessels. Physical and sexual assaults among crew members can come in many different forms, causing serious injury to the victim. The Jones Act protects crew members and entitles them to compensation for their injuries. If you have been assaulted while working on a ship or other vessel, you need to understand your legal rights.

Violent behavior by workers aboard a ship can constitute an unseaworthiness or negligence claim against the owner. Compensation for injuries can be pursued if the employer or vessel owner knew or should have known about the violent or aggressive tendencies of the crew member. Employers and vessel owners are required to take necessary steps to prevent assaults. When they fail to do so, the injured crew member can file a Jones Act claim.

A large number of assaults on ships go unreported, which may have to do with the fact that many crew members are unaware of their rights. Assaults often include the following:

  • Stabbings
  • Sexual assault or rape
  • Use of weapons
  • Fights

Injuries from crew member assaults can be extremely painful and could require a lengthy recovery. Assault injuries can be both physical and psychological and may include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries or head injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Severe bruising
  • Mental anguish

As a victim of assault on board a ship or other vessel, you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries. You can be awarded damages from the assailant, vessel owner or other responsible party for the injuries you have suffered as a result of the assault. Compensation from a successful Jones Act case can cover the costs of your medical expenses, lost wages, both past and present and other costs associated with your injuries.

After an assault on a vessel, you may be confused and embarrassed. The Jones Act attorneys at the Willis Law Firm understand the pain and stress of dealing with an assault. We can review your case to determine if you should file a Jones Act lawsuit. The legal consultation is free and kept strictly confidential.

Fall Injuries on a Vessel

Slippery surfaces, oily decks and old, worn down stairs can all cause a potentially serious fall accident. Seamen who work on boats, rigs, barges, tugs, tows and other vessels can be in danger of sustaining a fall injury, especially if the owner or other responsible party does not take appropriate safety measures.

Every year, thousands of people are injured by falls and unfortunately some of those injuries are fatal. In 2007, there were 835 deaths caused by fall accidents in the United States. Within the maritime industry, slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries among workers.

As a maritime worker, you regularly walk on surfaces that are wet and often slippery. When proper maintenance has not been done on a vessel, broken or worn down stairs, ladders or decks can create a hazard for workers. Defective platforms, machinery or equipment can also cause serious fall accidents offshore. Vessel owners can decrease the chances of fall accidents by using non-skid coatings on the areas where seamen regularly work. However, often times vessel owners do not take safety precautions to protect workers from fall accidents, which can make them liable for damages associated with the injuries.

Some of the common injuries resulting from fall accidents that occur offshore include the following:

  • Bone fractures
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury or head injury
  • Neck injury
  • Back injury
  • Death

If you have been injured in a fall accident that occurred on a vessel, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. Vessel owners can be held responsible for not taking appropriate measures to protect workers and for not properly maintaining the vessel. A successful Jones Act case could enable you to recover monetary damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, both past and present, mental anguish and other costs associated with your injury. Contact an experienced maritime attorney today to find out if you have a case for your fall injury.

Fishermen Have One of the Most Dangerous Occupations

Fishing for a living is the single most dangerous occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). History has shown that fishermen have a 20 to 30 times greater risk of suffering a fatal job injury than all of the other occupations. Every year, there are 50 to 100 fishing fatalities on average.

Why is commercial fishing so dangerous?

Fishermen face certain perils that are unique to the occupation. Fishing vessels usually travel great distances, far out on the sea. These vessels sometimes encounter “rogue waves,” which are over 100 feet high. Rogue waves are often leftover waves from previous storms or a collection of ordinary waves and can hit even in relatively calm seas. A rogue wave is powerful and can easily destroy a commercial fishing vessel.

There are other hazards associated with commercial fishing. Electrocutions, homicides, being caught in winches or other machinery and aircraft crashes are all among the numerous causes of fishing fatalities. A maritime accident can occur when a fishing vessel hits a submerged rock or collides with another vessel in the fog. In fact, vessel casualties are one of the leading causes of fishing deaths.

Falling overboard is also a danger faced by commercial fishermen. A small wave can be strong enough to wash a worker overboard. Fishermen have also been known to go overboard after tripping on a tightened line or falling from a slippery deck.

Commercial divers account for a significant number of fishing fatalities each year, as they encounter challenges while working offshore. Crewmembers who have little training or experience are sometimes required o dive below water to untangle nets or lines, which places them in danger. Other hazards, such as adverse sea and weather conditions, murky water, unexpected shifts in underwater currents, air lines that have become entangled, malfunctioning scuba equipment and decompression problems can all lead to fatal diving injuries.

If you have been injured in a maritime accident, contact an experienced maritime lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.

Injuries Resulting from Vessel Collisions

It is not uncommon for vessels to collide, whether in a river, lake or ocean. Vessel collisions can lead to serious injuries and sometimes death.

Within a few weeks span of time, two separate accidents involving vessel collisions occurred. One incident took place in the Mississippi Sound, approximately 2 ½ nautical miles southwest of Bayou Caddy. The incident involved a towing vessel, known as Velma C., and a sailing vessel, known as Sound Advice. At the time of the accident, the towing vessel was pushing three empty barges. Even though the vessel collision could have resulted in severe injuries, luckily no one was hurt.

Another vessel collision occurred in Tampa Bay when a fishing trawler and barge collided, which resulted in a fuel spill of approximately 1,000 gallons into the water. The 80-foot-long fishing boat, the Maranatha, and a 95-foot-long barge, the Coastal, hit each other just two miles northwest of Manbirtee Key near the Skyway. The vessel collision caused a 4 by 8 inch gash in the Maranatha’s fuel tank.

When vessels collide, it can result in objects shifting and in some situations, falling debris. Vessel collisions can cause an immense impact, which can lead to injuries among those onboard both vessels. Vessel collision injuries often include:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Head trauma
  • Brain injury
  • Rib fractures
  • Severe lacerations
  • Death

If you have been injured in a vessel collision, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. There are various laws that protect vessel workers, including the Jones Act. The Jones Act protects the rights of injured seamen. When a vessel accident is caused by negligence or unseaworthiness, you have the right to recover damages for your injuries, which may include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages, both past and present
  • Medical expenses, both past and present
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish

Sometimes injuries are permanent and can affect you for the rest of your life. As an injured seaman, you can obtain compensation that will help you during your recovery and for years to come. Maritime law is complex and there are deadlines as to when you can file a claim for vessel injuries. Contact our law firm today if you have been injured in a vessel collision. Our maritime lawyers are experienced in handling these types of cases. The initial legal consultation is free and confidential.