March 2017 saw a string of Louisiana lawsuits that highlight seaman injuries common in the maritime industry. At Maritime Injury Guide, we want to help our readers stay informed about cases like these to help them better understand the risks of working in the maritime industry, as well as their rights and options when an injury occurs.
Louisiana Lawsuits and Seaman Injuries
The Louisiana Record and other news sources have published information about three lawsuits that highlight different types of seaman injuries. A brief summary of each of these lawsuits and injuries includes the following:
- Spinal Injury Lawsuit – In September 2016, a Louisiana seaman filed a lawsuit alleging that the owners of a crane and a vessel did not take sufficient measures to prevent injuries. While working on a vessel in December 2015, the seaman sustained serious injuries to his spine while attaching a mud hose to a crane hook. The lawsuit claims that the owners did not provide a seaworthy vessel, and that the crane operator did not see and/or obey signals to stop given by the seaman.
The spinal injuries sustained in the incident cause permanent damage to the seaman. The lawsuit seeks $3 million in damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental and physical pain, maintenance and cure, and legal fees. The plaintiff has requested a trial by jury.
- Multi-Injury Lawsuit – In March 2017, a Louisiana seaman filed a lawsuit claiming that his employers failed to provide a safe working environment. In December 2015, the seaman reportedly sustained serious injuries to his cervical and lumbar discs while lifting a cable from the side of a barge. He further sustained injuries to his joints, muscles, bones, tissue, and organs.
The lawsuit claims that the employers failed to provide proper equipment, failed to warn the seaman of the unsafe conditions, and failed to provide adequate personnel to complete the task. The seaman is seeking a trial by jury with damages to be determined by the court. He seeks recovery for maintenance and cure, legal fees, and all forms of relief provided by law.
- Disc Injury Lawsuit – In March 2017, a Louisiana seaman filed a lawsuit claiming that he was injured when the vessel he was employed on struck a submerged island. The March 2016 incident resulted in serious injuries to his cervical and lumbar discs. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants were negligent in taking precautions to discover and correct unsafe conditions. Further, it is alleged that the defendant failed to provide adequate and prompt medical care and treatment.
The seaman is seeking a trial by jury and is pursuing recovery for medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, maintenance and cure, loss of household services, and legal fees.
Common Seaman Injuries in Maritime Industry
As these example cases suggest, there are multiple risks and possible injuries when working in the maritime industry. Injuries to the spine, discs, bones, and joints are among the most common reported among seamen. Other common injuries include:
- Head Injuries (open and closed)
- Lost Limbs (severed in the accident or in response to crushing injuries)
- Repetitive Use Injuries
- Shoulder Injuries
- Crush Injuries
These are only some of the most common seaman injuries. There are a plethora of possible injuries that may occur to anyone working on a vessel or on a dock or shipyard area. From crew boats to cruise ships, the maritime industry has many nuances that do not factor into other industries.
What Causes Seaman Injuries?
As the lawsuits described above suggest, there are many possible causes for seaman injuries. Seaman and other maritime workers are exposed to a variety of dangers, whether they are working in harsh weather conditions, or are required to operate heavy machinery. Some of the most common causes of seaman injuries include:
- Improper training and use of cranes and cargo moving equipment
- Inadequate training and safety procedures for working around toxic chemicals
- Improper maintenance and safety procedures for conveyor belts
- Broken, defective, or improperly maintained steps and ladders
- Extended exposure to plate freezers or freezing temperatures
- Trawl Winch malfunction due to improper training, use, or maintenance
It is crucial that maritime employers and employees follow proper safety, training, maintenance, and operation guidelines in order to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring. When injuries do occur, employers must also follow specific legal guidelines related to covering medical costs and compensating employees for lost wages, such as the Jones Act.
Understanding Your Legal Rights
Unfortunately, not all employers follow proper procedures or legal guidelines, which can have a detrimental effect on maritime workers and their loved ones. It is important that anyone working in the maritime industry understand his or her legal rights when an accident occurs due to the negligence of someone else. Injured workers may have the right to maintenance and cure benefits (covers medical and living expenses during recovery), lost wages or loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, additional medical expenses, and even punitive damages if the employer was reckless or willfully violated their duty.
If you work in the maritime industry, or have questions about seaman injuries, contact us today to learn more about your legal rights. Our team of skilled offshore injury attorneys can help you explore your legal rights and options, and pursue the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free case review, fill out our online form. Our staff is prompt and will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.