Vessel Injuries and Status

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Working aboard an offshore vessel can be extremely dangerous. Vessel injuries frequently occur due to negligence, inattention, fatigue, defective equipment or failure to follow proper safety standards. If you have been injured aboard a vessel, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act.

Under the Jones Act, companies are required to maintain a “seaworthy” vessel. A seaworthy vessel is one that is fit for travel across the sea. A seaworthy vessel must be equipped with proper tools, equipment and a competent crew. Unfortunately, vessels are often “unseaworthy” because they lack these basic requirements. A vessel can be unseaworthy for the following reasons:

  • Insufficient number of crew members
  • Defective equipment
  • Slippery deck
  • Faulty ladders or ladders that no longer work
  • Improperly maintained tools
  • Failure to inspect equipment of machinery
  • Equipment or tools that violate coast guard regulations or OSHA requirements
  • Failure to follow company safety policies or procedures
  • Improper supervision of crewmembers
  • Inadequate training of crewmembers
  • Obstructions on gangways
  • Lack of proper safety equipment

Common Vessel Injuries

Accidents commonly occur aboard an unseaworthy vessel and can lead to injuries. The most common vessel injuries include:

  • Back and neck injuries – Falling on a slippery deck or gangway can lead to painful back and neck injuries. Transporting heavy machinery or equipment from the deck can lead to back strains and herniated discs.
  • Lacerations/Amputations – Given that much of the work aboard a vessel involves manual labor, hand or finger lacerations are common. Defective equipment or falling debris can crush fingers or hands requiring painful surgeries and even amputation.
  • Electrocution – If machinery or equipment is improperly maintained, it may result in electrocution or electric shock.
  • Burns – If the vessels are transporting oil, gas or other chemicals, fires or explosions can occur which may results in painful burns. These burns often require skin grafts but may cause permanent scarring.

Vessel Injury Lawyers

If you or a family member was injured on a vessel, please contact a lawyer at Pierce | Skrabanek. We have extensive experience with maritime injuries. We will provide a free case evaluation. We handle all cases on a contingency basis, meaning that we don’t get paid unless we win or settle.

Our experience inside the Courtroom has garnered several awards, including induction into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and SuperLawyers by Texas Monthly Magazine. Please contact us for more information on vessel injuries.

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What Is a Vessel Under the Jones Act?

Under the Jones Act, a vessel refers to both tradition vessels and modern vessels. Essentially, a vessel is anything that is used to transport goods or people across navigable waters. In fact, platforms or drilling units that are easily transportable can also be considered “vessels” under the Jones Act. Some cases have also held that floating docks or platforms which are subjected to the perils of the sea can also be construed as “vessels” under the Jones Act. This case law has broadened what constitutes as a “vessel” under the Jones Act thereby enabling seaman to recover from injuries incurred upon navigable waters.

The Supreme Court in Stewart v. Dutra Construction Co.543 U.S. 481 (2005) recently held that the term vessel “includes every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.” This decision meant that floating docks, platforms, dormitories or rigs fall under the definition of a “Jones Act Vessel.”

What are Examples of Vessels Under the Jones Act?

The Jones Act applies to virtually every vessel or boat on navigable waters, these include:


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