Louisiana Lawsuit Sets Maritime Law Standard
JONES ACT IN METARIE, LA
Maritime Vs. Land-Based Compensation For Injuries While On The Job
Rules and laws for Maritime injuries are different from those typically used for personal injury cases on land. In negligence cases like car accidents, the person suing must prove that the defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of the injury to the plaintiff in order to receive damages for their injury. However, the Jones Act, a law intended to provide seamen with rights while working at sea, provides for a much lower burden of proof. Under the Jones Act, only a small part of involvement need be proven for the plaintiff to be entitled to damages. As such, if the employer’s negligence contributed to 1% or more of the accident, the plaintiff can recover damages. This concept is sometimes called “featherweight causation”.
McBride v. Estis Well Service LLC
The recent 5th circuit case of McBride v. Estis Well Service LLC, is a critical case because it sets a possible new standard with regard to recovery of punitive damages in maritime cases. Typically a personal injury lawsuit allows for the recovery of two main types of damages, those intended to compensate the victim for their injuries (compensatory) and those intended to deter the defendant from further activities of the same type that cause the injury (punitive).
The McBride case was filed after an accident occurred aboard a barge operating in the navigable waters of Louisiana. While operating as usual, a truck-mounted drilling rig fell over causing the death of one crew member and the injury of three others. The injured parties filed a lawsuit against the owner of the drilling rig requesting both compensatory and punitive damages under the Jones Act and the general maritime law of unseaworthiness.
Initially, and upon plaintiff request, the district court dismissed all of the punitive damage claims. The case was appealed and the court held that punitive damages could be available to injured seamen. The 5th Circuit then granted review and began their analysis of both the Jones Act and the maritime law of unseaworthiness.
What Is The Jones Act?
Unfortunately, injured seamen are not afforded the same legal rights to worker’s compensation as land-based workers when they are injured on the job. For this reason, the Jones Act and general maritime law were created to allow workers legal rights to compensation for their injuries while on the job. Consequently, injured seamen can now recover damages for the negligence of either their employer or the owner of the vessel on which they are working if it is deemed unseaworthy.
The basic principles of the Jones Act hold that a maritime employer must provide workers on their vessel with a reasonably safe place to work. Further, the employer must “use ordinary care to under the circumstances to maintain and keep the vessel on which the seaman works in a reasonably safe condition.” The requirements under the Jones Act are very strict and dictate that an employer could be held liable for unsafe conditions like oil or grease on the deck, equipment that is not properly maintained, failing to provide a crew with proper equipment, failing to properly train a crew or failing to require a crew to follow methods to work safely.
Ultimately, the court in McBride v. Estis Well Service LLC, analyzed the case under the principles of both the Jones Act and the general maritime law of unseaworthiness, holding that punitive damages were not recoverable by an injured seaman. Legal theorists believe that this case will likely serve as an important persuasive authority in other maritime punitive damage claims around the country. As well, the McBride majority opinion will undoubtedly play a critical role in the future litigation of Jones Act/unseaworthiness cases around the country because of its comprehensive analysis from the Fifth Circuit.
Contact Our Team for A Free Case Review
Maritime injury cases can be filled with complicated laws that do not follow the same rules as land-based injuries. As such, it is important to have a team of attorneys that are qualified, experienced and familiar with both maritime and personal injury law. J. Price McNamara, is an attorney with tremendous knowledge of both maritime and personal injury law. With offices in Baton Rouge and Metairie, LA, the attorneys at J. Price McNamara are here to answer all of your questions and can even review your case for free. If you’ve been injured in a maritime accident and are seeking compensation for damages or injuries, contact J. Price McNamara today for a free case review and consultation at (225) 201-8311.
St. Landry Parish Man Files Jones Act Claim in New Orleans Over Burn Injuries Received While Onboard Sinking Ship
JONES ACT, MARITIME AND OFFSHORE INJURIES
A St. Landry Parish man filed a Jones Act claim after he allegedly suffered burns while aboard a sinking offshore vessel. Earlier this month, Marc Mayer filed a lawsuit in New Orleans federal court against TK Marine Services, TK Towing Inc., CCS Energy Services, CCS 7525, and Phoenix Exploration Co. over burn injuries he purportedly received on August 11, 2010. According to Mayer, he was working onboard the M/V CCS Leader I when the ship unexpectedly began to sink. He claims he was burned during the event.
In his lawsuit, Mayer accuses the defendants of several acts of negligence including the failure to provide a safe working environment, properly maintain the vessel, provide workers with the proper safety equipment, and discover and correct unsafe vessel conditions. The companies are also accused of maintaining a vessel that was not seaworthy, providing inadequate supervision, failing to provide a sufficient number of trained workers, and continuing to employ workers who were careless and improperly trained. Mayer asked the court to provide him with compensation for medical costs, disability, pain, mental suffering, maintenance and cure, and punitive damages. He is also seeking an award of attorney’s fees and interest.
Employees injured while they are working offshore generally have no recourse through state workers’ compensation laws. Instead, offshore workers are protected by the Jones Act. The Act was passed by Congress in 1920 and allows an employee injured while working onboard a marine vessel to sue his or her employer directly based on the employer’s negligence or the ship’s lack of seaworthiness. The provisions of the Jones Act provide offshore workers with remedies previously unavailable through normal maritime laws.
To file a Jones Act claim, the vessel on which a worker’s injury occurred cannot be affixed to the seafloor and the worker must fit the Act’s definition of a seaman. Traditionally, courts have interpreted the Act so that most workers on a marine ship or other vessel are considered seamen. Damages available to an injured seaman under the Act include compensation for personal injuries and maintenance and cure. Non-pecuniary damage awards are prohibited under the Act, however. It can be difficult to determine an offshore worker’s status and the amount of damages a hurt worker may be awarded under the Jones Act. If you were injured offshore, it is advisable to contact a qualified Jones Act lawyer to evaluate your case.
J. Price McNamara is an experienced attorney. Contact the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara. He assists clients throughout the state including Lafourche, Orleans, Ascension, Lafayette, Jefferson, Kenner, St. John, Mandeville, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, and Terrebonne Parishes. To discuss your personal injury case, contact J. Price McNamara through his website or call him today at (866) 248-0580.
Worker Injured on Ship in Gulf of Mexico Sues Employer in New Orleans Federal Court
JONES ACT, MARITIME AND OFFSHORE INJURIES
A worker has filed suit against his employer over injuries he sustained on a ship while swinging from a platform rope. On January 20th, David Thomas filed a lawsuit in New Orleans federal court against Oceaneering International, Inc. According to Thomas, he injured his shoulder on October 27, 2011 while working as a crewmember aboard the DSV Ocean Project. Thomas claims he became injured swinging on a rope from a platform onto the ship while the DSV Ocean Project was engaged in performing commercial diving operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Thomas has accused his employer of negligence and alleged Oceaneering International failed to provide him with proper safety equipment, a safe working environment, and a properly manned ship. He requested a jury trial and is seeking compensation for maintenance and cure, lost wages and fringe benefits, medical expenses, lost earning capacity, court costs, and attorney’s fees.
Workers who are injured at sea usually have little recourse through state workers’ compensation laws. Instead, they are protected by the Jones Act, a federal law. The Jones Act was passed by Congress in 1920 to protect marine employees injured while working offshore on a floating vessel. The Act provides an injured employee with the right to sue his or her marine employer directly. For the law’s protections to apply, an offshore vessel must be mobile and the injured worker must fit the Act’s definition of a seaman. Traditionally, courts have classified a worker’s status broadly to include most staff on a ship or other vessel within the definition of “seaman.”
Generally, Jones Act claims are predicated on an act of negligence or allegations of a marine vessel’s lack of seaworthiness. The Jones Act provides an employee with the opportunity to seek maintenance and cure and recover for personal injuries. The Act does not allow for non-pecuniary awards, however. Determining a marine employee’s seaman status and the amount of compensation an injured seaman may receive under the Jones Act can be complicated. If you were injured while working at sea, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced Jones Act attorney to help you determine your seaman status and protect your rights.
If you have questions regarding an injury you received while working offshore, our New Orleans maritime and offshore injury attorneys can help. J. Price McNamara will assist you in determining your employee status and seeking damages for your injuries. Our experienced Jones Act attorneys represent clients throughout Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Metairie, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Mandeville. For a free initial consultation, call J. Price McNamara today at (866) 248-0580. You may also contact us through our website.
Gulf of Mexico Crew-Boat Runs Aground Near Morgan City Injuring At least One Crew Member
JONES ACT, MARITIME AND OFFSHORE INJURIES
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.
For further information, visit our website at www.jpricemcnamara.com.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Worker Sues Employer for Alleged Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
JONES ACT, MARITIME AND OFFSHORE INJURIES
A Deepwater Horizon oil spill clean-up worker has filed a lawsuit against his employer in New Orleans federal court alleging he experienced respiratory failure and developed bipolar pneumonia as a result of his exposure to the oil. On December 29, 2011, Luke Boudreaux filed suit against Craig Creppel and DRC Group over an incident which allegedly occurred in September 2010 while he was employed aboard the Captain Matt. Boudreaux alleges he was exposed to toxic chemicals which caused his injuries while the ship was engaged in Deepwater Horizon oil spill remediation efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.
Boudreaux claims his employer was negligent for failing to provide a safe working environment, failing to properly maintain the Captain Matt, failing to have a plan in place to complete remediation tasks in a safe manner, and failing to provide enough crew members and the proper tools to complete the task. He has asked the court to compensate him for maintenance and cure, loss of wages and earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, disability, post-traumatic stress, emotional distress, court costs, and attorney’s fees.
Under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee will receive compensation for injuries sustained while on the job regardless of fault. Unfortunately, employees who sustain injuries while employed on an offshore vessel have little recourse through state workers’ compensation laws. Instead, they benefit from the provisions of the Jones Act. Congress passed the Jones Act in 1920 in an effort to protect employees injured while working at sea or on a floating vessel. The Act allows an injured marine employee to directly sue his or her employer but also requires the employee to prove the employer was negligent in causing the injury. An employee may seek maintenance and cure and financial recovery for personal injuries under the Act. Non-pecuniary awards, however, are prohibited.
For Jones Act protections to apply, an offshore vessel must be capable of moving and an injured employee must fit the Act’s definition of a seaman. Traditionally, courts have classified a worker’s status broadly to include most staff on a ship or other vessel. A marine employee’s status as well as the amount of compensation an injured seaman may receive under the Jones Act is generally quite complicated. An experienced Jones Act attorney can help you determine your status, protect your rights, and determine how to seek fair compensation for your injuries.
If you or a loved one was injured while working offshore, it is important to contact an experienced Jones Act attorney as soon as possible. J. Price McNamara, a New Orleans Jones Act lawyer, is available to speak with you about your injuries and discuss your status under the Act. Our skilled and diligent personal injury lawyers represent clients throughout Louisiana, including Metairie, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mandeville, and Lafayette. For a free initial consultation, contact J. Price McNamara through his website or call him at (866) 248-0580 today.
Two New Seaman Injury Cases Filed in New Orleans Federal Court
On December 19th, Audrey Brown filed a lawsuit against her employer in a New Orleans federal court seeking compensation for injuries she claims she sustained while working offshore. According to the lawsuit, Brown fell down stairs while working aboard the M/V Maersk Texas in early 2010. As a result of the fall, Brown alleges she sustained a complicated and painful cut to her face as well as nerve damage and emotional distress.
In her lawsuit, Brown claims Maersk Line Limited committed negligence by failing to provide her with a safe working environment and by operating a ship which was unseaworthy. Brown is seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, maintenance and cure, pain and suffering, and disability as well as other damages. She has asked the court to award her $5 million for her injuries.
Also last week, offshore worker Jaime Medina filed a lawsuit against his employer in New Orleans federal court seeking damages for injuries allegedly sustained on a marine vessel. On December 22, Medina filed a case against Reel Pipe, Offshore Service Vessels, and Galliano Marine Service for injuries he claims resulted from a fall while onboard the M/V Joshua Chouest. According to Medina, he tripped on a stairwell kick plate and fell down the stairs after performing maintenance on a generator onboard the ship in 2009. He claims he injured his hand, wrist, and shoulder while grabbing onto a handrail during his fall.
Medina has accused his employer of negligence, failure to warn, failure to adhere to safety regulations, and failure to provide safe working conditions. He is seeking $5 million for purported pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and a variety of other damages.
Seamen injured while working onboard a floating vessel generally have no remedy available to them through state workers’ compensation laws and regulations. Instead, injured seamen are protected by federal law through the Jones Act. In 1920, Congress passed the Jones Act to provide injured seamen with the opportunity to directly sue an employer for injuries sustained while onboard a ship or other floating vessel. Jones Act claims are generally predicated on an act of negligence or allegations of a marine vessel’s lack of seaworthiness.
For Jones Act provisions to apply, a worker must fit the Act’s definition of a seaman. Additionally, an offshore vessel must be floating and cannot be affixed to the seafloor. Most offshore workers qualify for seaman status under the Act. The Jones Act provides an injured seaman with the opportunity to receive payment for both personal injuries and maintenance and cure. The Act does not allow for payment of non-pecuniary damages, however. Determining the amount of compensation a seaman may be eligible to receive as a result of an offshore injury can be difficult. An experienced Jones Act attorney can assist you.
If you were injured while working offshore, our qualified Louisiana maritime and offshore injury lawyers can help you determine your offshore employee status. J. Price McNamara assists clients throughout Louisiana, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Metairie, and Mandeville. To schedule a free initial consultation, call J. Price McNamara today at (866) 248-0580 or contact us through our website.
Louisiana Jones Act Claim Filed After Five Workers Fall 80 Feet Into the Gulf of Mexico
JONES ACT, MARITIME AND OFFSHORE INJURIES
Five men have recently filed a Jones Act lawsuit against Tetra Technologies, Inc. in New Orleans federal court. The men are alleging they fell 80 feet into the Gulf of Mexico during removal of a bridge which connected two pieces of an oil production platform last May. The five offshore workers, Josue Olvera Armijo, Jose Luis Ponce-Zuniga, Kyle Ivy, Derrick Picou and Abraham Mayorga, were assigned the task while initially working aboard the D/B Tetra.
According to the complaint, the five men cut the bridge’s support structures and affixed four nylon straps to the bridge. After a crane made an unsuccessful attempt to lift and remove the bridge, the nylon straps were allowed to hang loosely. The five workers were allegedly instructed to climb onto the bridge in order to ascertain the next steps to remove the bridge. While the men were on top of the bridge examining it, one end collapsed and tilted towards the water. Everything on the bridge, including the workers, fell 80 feet into the water below.
The workers accuse Tetra Technologies, Inc. of multiple acts of negligence and seek compensation for injuries sustained both during their fall and when they were purportedly struck by falling equipment while in the water. In addition to damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and permanent disability, the workers also asked the court to award punitive damages against the company.
Offshore workers injured while on the job normally have little or no recourse through workers’ compensation laws. Instead, they are protected by The Jones Act. Congress passed the Act in 1920 in order to allow an employee injured while working on a marine vessel to directly sue an employer based on the vessel’s lack of seaworthiness or the employer’s negligence. The provisions of the Act are important because it provides offshore workers with recourse previously unavailable through general maritime law.
In order file a Jones Act claim, an offshore vessel must not be affixed to the seafloor and an injured worker must fit the Act’s definition of a seaman. Most workers on a marine ship or other floating vessel qualify for seaman status under the Act. The Act allows an injured employee to receive compensation for both maintenance and cure and personal injuries. It does not allow for non-pecuniary damage awards, however. Determining an offshore worker’s status and the amount of compensation an employee may be awarded under the Act can be tricky. A qualified Jones Act lawyer can help.
If you were injured while working offshore, our experienced Louisiana Jones Act attorneys can help you determine your marine employee status. J. Price McNamara represents clients throughout Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Metairie, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Mandeville. For more information call J. Price McNamara today at (866) 248-0580 or contact us through our website.
Worker Sues After Falling 85 Feet on Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit
JONES ACT, MARITIME AND OFFSHORE INJURIES
An employee of National Oilwell Varco has filed a lawsuit in a New Orleans federal court against Alimak Hek, Inc. for injuries received while performing work on a mobile offshore drilling unit. Christopher Gonzales is seeking damages for injuries stemming from his 85 foot fall through an open elevator shaft on the Discoverer Deep Seas last April. In his lawsuit, Gonzales alleges he and a crew of co-workers were hurried through an elevator installation project on the rig by representatives of Alimak Hek. The crew Gonzales worked on was tasked with removal of an existing elevator and the assembly and installation of a new one. According to Gonzales, Alimak Hek was responsible for planning and supervising the elevator installation on the Transocean owned vessel. Gonzales alleges one of Alimak Hek’s employees created the hole through which he fell and sustained massive injuries.
Gonzales alleges employees of Alimak Hek ordered him to assemble the elevator in a manner that was inconsistent with plans and specifications approved by Transocean. According to Gonzales, the alterations were then rejected by Transocean. This resulted in pressure from Alimak Hek to complete the project quickly and to avoid delay.
Gonzales was injured while installing paneling in an elevator shaft 225 feet above the rig’s drill floor. He stated in his complaint that he was assured the top of the elevator would be positioned level with a steel grating on which Gonzales stood while working. Instead, an Alimak Hek supervisor allegedly moved the elevator to a position 85 feet below the grating which created a hole in Gonzales’ work platform. Gonzales inadvertently fell through the hole and the top of the elevator broke his fall. He sustained multiple injuries which required several surgeries and a great deal of rehabilitation.
Workers who sustain injuries on a mobile offshore drilling unit generally have little recourse through workers’ compensation laws but are instead subject to the protections of the Jones Act. The Jones Act was passed by Congress in 1920 in an effort to protect marine employees injured while working on a floating vessel. The act allows an injured employee to directly sue a marine employer. In order for the Jones Act to apply, an offshore vessel must be mobile and the injured worker must fit the Act’s definition of a seaman. Courts have traditionally classified a worker’s seaman status broadly to include most staff on a ship or other vessel.
The Jones Act provides for maintenance and cure and allows financial recovery for personal injuries, but does not allow for non-pecuniary awards. A marine employee’s status as well as the amount of compensation an injured seaman may receive under the Jones Act is complicated. An experienced Jones Act attorney can help you determine your status and protect your rights.
If you have questions regarding an injury you received on a mobile offshore drilling unit or other vessel, contact Baton Rouge maritime and offshore injury attorney J. Price McNamara for a free initial consultation.
Our skilled maritime lawyer represent clients throughout Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Metairie, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Mandeville. For more information call J. Price McNamara today at (866) 248-0580. You may also contact us through our website.