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.

Hearing Loss from a Maritime Accident

There are too many dangers faced by maritime workers to even count. Every day on the job for a seaman is a day at risk. One of the less publicized injuries suffered by seamen is hearing loss. Loud noises, especially in the engine room, can result in serious, or even permanent loss of hearing. If your hearing has been affected from working on a vessel, you may be entitled to compensation.

Various laws exist that protect maritime workers, including the Jones Act. Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman can pursue compensation for injuries and may be able to file an action against the vessel owner if negligence was involved in the injury. Also, a vessel that is considered unseaworthy could entitle the injured maritime worker to compensation.

Hearing loss that results from maritime work can often be avoided. The use of hearing protection or personal protective equipment can help prevent hearing loss or other damage to the hearing, such as buzzing in the ear. Employers are responsible for keeping their employees safe, under the law.

If you have suffered hearing problems or hearing loss from a maritime accident or from your work aboard a vessel, you should contact a maritime attorney at our law firm. There are deadlines as to when you can file your claim, so you shouldn’t wait long to contact a maritime injury lawyer.

You May Need a Maritime Injury Lawyer After a Maritime Accident

Picture this scenario – a seaman falls on a broken ladder aboard a vessel. His employer’s insurance company offers a settlement for his injuries that appears fair, only to find out later that the amount offered was way below what the seaman’s injuries were worth. Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon and happens to many injured maritime workers.

If you have been injured in a maritime accident while working aboard a vessel, such as a tug, tow, barge or rig, you should contact a maritime injury lawyer. An attorney will ensure that your rights are being protected and that you are treated fairly. If you try to go it alone, you face an uphill battle with the insurance company. It is important to remember that the insurer does not have your best interests in mind.

After a maritime accident, you may be contacted by an investigator or insurer who will want to get your recorded statement. Do not give one. They will try to catch you saying something that they can use to lower your settlement offer. Also, don’t sign any papers without consulting with a maritime attorney.

If you have been injured offshore, you need to talk with a maritime injury attorney immediately. There are deadlines as to when you can file your claim and you do not want to miss out on collecting your deserved compensation. Contact our law firm today for a free legal consultation.