The M/V LADY BRANDY, a crew-boat owned by Iberia Marine Service, LLC, ran aground on the afternoon of January 9, 2012, on its way back to Morgan City from the Gulf of Mexico. At least one crewmember was injured. Other crewmembers and a number of passengers were on board. It has been reported that, at the time of the grounding, an unlicensed non-captain crewmember was at the wheel. Accordingly to at least one witness, passengers of the vessel were quite shaken by the event, while at least one crewmember sought immediate medical attention.
Passengers and crewmembers injured in an event such as this have claims against the vessel owner and its insurer. Their claims, however, are different in several respects.
The crewmembers have claims under a federal law commonly known as the Jones Act, which permits vessel crewmember- employees to file suit against their employer for negligence and unseaworthiness of the vessel. Seamen are owed a special duty of care from their employer under the Jones Act. A vessel can be found unseaworthy for a number of reasons, including an inadequate crew. Damages can include past and future mental and physical pain and suffering, past and future lost wages and earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, maintenance and cure and “found.”
Passengers are entitled to claim or file suit against the vessel owner for negligence under the general maritime law. Their claims are somewhat different than claims under the Jones Act, but they do include some common elements of recovery.
It is difficult to imagine that the grounding of this vessel was not caused by negligence on the part of the vessel owner and its crew. Workers in the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil industry are exposed to dangers far beyond that of the average land-based worker. Vessel owners should not add to those dangers in transporting offshore workers to and from their job locations.
If anyone is injured in an accident such as this, they should contact an experienced maritime and offshore attorney to explain the rights one has under the Jones Act and general maritime law.