Maritime accidents commonly result from the negligence of the captain or crew. Sometimes they’re triggered by bad weather. Often they involve serious injuries, illness and even death. The causes of the accidents are as varied as the vessels they occur on. Maritime workers who are injured on the job are protected by admiralty law and the Jones Act. These laws provide medical testing, treatment, rehabilitation, room and board and lost wages to injured workers. Maritime law also covers personal injury suffered by passengers; this is known as duty of reasonable care.
The American maritime industry has evolved from simple sea trade to a complex network of ocean highways and waterways. It involves transporting billions in consumer goods to customers around the country and across the globe. The Maritime Industry Foundation reports there are currently around 1.2 million people employed in the industry. While that’s great news for our economy, it also presents 1.2 million opportunities for a worker to be hurt on the job.
Since 1996, The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been responsible for coordinating federal assistance to victims and their families of maritime and aviation accidents. When a major accident occurs, such as an oil platform explosion, engine room fire or sinking vessel, the NTSB launches an investigation and publishes its findings on their website.
If you or a loved one is involved in a major maritime accident, you can use the findings of the NTSB report to support your personal injury claim.
Vessels are the backbone of the maritime industry. No work can be done on the open sea or along our waterways without them. Vessels come in many shapes and sizes, but they each pose significant injury risks to seamen, longshoremen and passengers.
Tugboats maneuver vessels that cannot move on their own, such as barges or ships stranded in emergency situations. Even though they’re smaller than most boats, they can cause big injuries as a result of collision with other boats, capsizing, slip and falls and mechanical malfunctions.
Cargo ships are massive commercial vessels used to carry bulk items across the ocean. The weight and size of their containers requires a crane to load and unload goods. Cargo ships pose dangers from equipment malfunction, pinch point injuries, explosions and collisions when tugboat coordination doesn’t go as smoothly as planned.
Cruise liners are roughly the shape and size of cargo vessels, but are used for passengers on pleasure voyages. Flooding, virus outbreak, capsizing, dock accidents and on-shore excursion injuries are covered under maritime law.
Offshore drilling for oil is made possible through the use of these offshore platforms. Due to the hazardous working environment from both the sea and extraction of highly flammable substances, minor and severe accidents are frequent. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry has a fatality rate seven times higher than any other occupation.
Oil tankers are classified by their size, and all are responsible for transporting hazardous – and often combustible – materials between refineries and consumer markets. The risks of injury from fire, explosions, onboarding and unloading are similar to those on oil rigs.
Barges are flat-bottomed vessels used to carry freight down canals and rivers. Usually, they are towed by tugboats. Collisions, rigging accidents, falling hazards, pinch point injuries, spinal cord injuries and even death to a crew member are possible while working on a barge.
Charter vessels are used for recreational and commercial fishing. Capsizing, man overboard, slip and fall injuries, and equipment malfunction are common injuries incurred on a charter boat. Accidents typically result from misconduct, negligence or unseaworthiness of the vessel.
Much of the system of navigable waterways that connect our nation’s states were made so through the help of dredging vessels. They excavate sediment through the use of heavy machinery, such as a cutting tool and a crane arm. However, these tools can also cause horrific injuries, such as amputation, paralysis or death.
Ferries are small boats used in passenger and vehicle transport for short distances across the water. Mooring accidents are common, as are slip and falls and injuries related to vessel unseaworthiness.
Crew boats are primarily used to bring fresh supplies and crew members to offshore drilling platforms, jack-up rigs, drilling ships and barges. Rough seas, high winds and bad weather can cause deck accidents while loading and unloading cargo and transferring personnel.
A jack-up rig is a mobile offshore drilling unit that drills the most offshore wells. Injuries on a jack-up rig can be due to machinery and work performed on the platform, or a malfunction or collapse of the unit itself.
The following is a list of common injuries sustained by maritime workers:
Sometimes nothing can prevent an accident from happening, especially on the ocean where Mother Nature has control. However, the number one cause of accidents and injuries to workers on vessels is negligence. Improper training, failure to repair broken equipment, overworking seamen, poor navigation, and failing to install no-slip deck surfaces or keep decks free of debris, all contribute to workplace injuries. Accidents caused by negligence on behalf of captain or crew members are covered under the Jones Act.
There are four laws and regulations that assure maritime workers who are injured or suffer a work-related illness will be compensated. The exact amount always depends on the severity of the injury or illness, and the incident that caused the accident.
When you are injured on the job, seek medical attention immediately. Be sure to save any medical reports or receipts of out-of-pocket costs incurred from the injury.
Maritime law does not have a simple workers’ compensation claims process, so it’s in your best interest to secure an attorney experienced in maritime law. Your lawyer can help you understand which maritime law applies to your situation, as well as gather evidence to support your negligence claim.
At Pierce | Skrabanek, we are those lawyers. We’re prepared to help maritime workers receive the compensation that will help them heal and support their families after a workplace injury.
Read what our past clients have to say about our legal services.
“My experience with Mr. Skrabanek was honestly far better than all expectations that we had. He took care of us like we were family, making sure me and my wife always felt like a priority and walked us through all of the concerns that we had. If you are looking for a professional who truly cares for his clients you can stop the search. You won’t be disappointed.”
“Mike and his team helped me settle an injury claim case. I was informed and helped through every step and they were always professional and very responsive. I really enjoyed working with them.”
“My attorney, Michael, did an amazing job with my case. He’s a straight shooter and has a vast knowledge of the law combined with an extensive amount of experience, making him a fantastic attorney. I fully recommend this firm.
Thank you Pierce Skrabenek!”
“Paul Skrabanek of the law firm Pierce Skrabanek was very professional and went above & beyond in handling my daughter's case. Very dedicated, worked diligently, and got justice for my family. If I could give a higher rating than 5 stars I would. Thank you and your firm for such tenacity.”
“These guys are awesome, they were very informative from the beginning to end, working with them was super smooth, and I had all questions answered thoroughly. The whole team at this firm works to help in every way they can. They were able to get me the compensation I deserved and exceeded my expectations. If you’re ever in need of a stellar team to stand behind you and work for you, these guys are the ones you would want in your corner.
Thank you very much Paul and thank your team for me.”
“Working with Paul Skrabanek was a very positive experience. He helped me understand the legal process as someone who has never been a part of a lawsuit, and was able to get me settled quickly and painlessly! Loved working with Pierce Skrabanek law firm!”
“Michael Pierce and his team, especially Krystle, were very professional, always available (even on weekends), and very knowledgeable. We appreciate their hard work on our case and the time they took to explain every detail as our case progressed. Mike is a phenomenal attorney and we highly recommend them for your legal needs.”
“I found Mr. Skrabanek to be very trustworthy, creditable, and genuinely concerned about my well-being while I was going through this very difficult process. He showed constant concern for me being completely satisfied before making any final decisions.”
“Fantastic team of attorneys and staff dedicated to their clients. Michael Pierce is an outstanding trial attorney for personal injury cases.”
“We watched, participated & listened to Paul Skrabanek fight for a settlement which we could be happy with. Just this month the case has been put to rest.”
If you’ve been hurt on the job, take action today. Our attorneys want to help you get your life back on track. A consultation is always free and at no obligation to you. Call us today at 832-690-7000 or email us for a free case evaluation.
When you hire the attorneys of Pierce | Skrabanek, your best interest becomes our top priority.