Louisiana Maritime Accidents

Louisiana Maritime Injury Attorney Representing Injured Barge and Tugboat Workers 

Maritime workers are a central part of Louisiana’s culture and economy who often put their own safety at risk as part of their day to day jobs. As our Louisiana maritime injury lawyer can attest, maritime accidents happen frequently, and they often come with significant physical and financial consequences, both for the person injured and his or her family.

When maritime workers are injured in accidents on barges, tugboats, and elsewhere offshore, they have the right a wide range of compensation and benefits. The Louisiana Jones Act lawyers at The Willis Law Firm has been helping people injured in these accidents navigate the legal process for more than three decades.

Common Types of Maritime Accidents Explained by a Louisiana Maritime Injury Attorney

Maritime accidents, including barge accidents, come in many shapes and forms. Some of the most common maritime accidents include:

Slip, Trip and Fall Accidents on Vessels

As with construction site and premise liability accidents, slip, trip and fall accidents are very common in the maritime industry. What makes these types of accidents particularly dangerous in the maritime industry is the potential of falling overboard as a result of a slip or trip. Vessel decks are commonly crowded, uneven, wet, and slippery. 

A Louisiana Maritime Injury Attorney Can Help After a Falling Overboard Incident

Falling overboard is likely the type of accident that most people think of first when they consider maritime accidents. Workers or guests may fall overboard for a number of reasons, from loading cargo to fishing to simply not being careful along the vessel’s railing in inclement weather. However, these types of accidents aren’t just about falling off of a vessel in open water. It is particularly dangerous when falling between vessels in dock, because of the potential of being crushed, along with the fact that rescue efforts are often very complicated and many falls result in hypothermia or even drowning.

Enclosed Space Accidents on Vessels in Louisiana

Enclosed spaces are very common on any vessel due to space limitations. Areas like cargo space, storage rooms, tight corridors, and other enclosed spaces can result in exposure to toxic fumes and asphyxia from low oxygen.

Louisiana Equipment Accidents

Any job that requires interaction with heavy machinery brings a possibility of serious accidents. Improperly used equipment, inadequate training, and worker miscommunication all potentially lead to serious accidents.

Common Types of Maritime Injuries in Louisiana

Maritime accidents lead to maritime injuries. As every Louisiana maritime injury attorney at our firm can attest, some of the most common injuries facing seamen include:

  • Repetitive Motion Injuries. Maritime work requires repetitive motion. If you lack the proper training or don’t take regular breaks, you are susceptible to repetitive motion disorder (RMD). The neck, legs, back, hips, and feet are the most susceptible to RMD injuries.
  • Chemical Burns. Areas like the engine room and the galley contain substances that can result in serious burn injuries. In the engine room, there may be high voltage equipment and dangerous chemicals. In the galley, hot frying oil and boiling water can cause serious burn injuries, especially in rough waters.
  • Other Common Personal Injuries. Many maritime injuries are the same as typical personal injuries. The most common injuries include head and brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, loss of limbs and amputations, eye injuries, acoustic trauma causing hearing loss, injuries caused by exposure, bone and muscle injuries, cuts, bruises, and internal bleeding or other types of internal injuries.

How the Jones Act Applies to Barge and Tugboat Accidents 

The Jones Act is a federal law that entitles tugboat and other maritime workers to certain medical benefits for an injury or illness sustained while working aboard a ship, regardless of who is to blame. Most employers have insurance to cover these payouts, meaning that the insurer will decide whether to pay the claim.

Importantly, the Jones Act does not require an injured person to prove that his or her employer or someone else was to blame for the accident. Instead, the person must simply prove that he or she is a “seaman” covered by the law who was injured aboard a vessel.

In the event that a maritime worker is injured in an accident caused by negligence or a vessel’s unseaworthiness, he or she can also sue for money damages. These lawsuits usually seek compensation for both the economic and non-economic impact of an accident.

Types of Damages a Louisiana Maritime Injury Attorney Can Fight For

Economic damages generally cover the financial impact of an accident. They include money for current and future medical bills stemming from the injury, as well as missed wages while recuperating and any reduction in earning capacity long-term as a result of the injuries. 

Non-economic damages go beyond the direct financial impact of an accident. This compensation is meant to cover pain and suffering and quality of life implications related to an injury.    

Additionally, punitive damages may also be used to punish particularly reckless behavior in some cases.

Wrongful Death Compensation after a Barge or Tugboat Accident in Louisiana

In the tragic event that a person dies in a barge, tugboat, or other maritime accident, his or her loved ones have the right to seek compensation for wrongful death. The money damages available in these cases are similar to what the person would have been able to seek had he or she survived the accident.  

Although no amount of money can ever replace a loved one, a wrongful death claim can help resolve some of the financial certainty that often comes with a fatal accident. A Louisiana maritime injury attorney at our firm can help you pursue a claim.

Louisiana Maritime Injury Lawyer Shares Immediate Steps to Take After an Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a maritime accident in Louisiana, time is of the essence. It is vital that you consult an experienced Louisiana barge accident lawyer before accepting a settlement from your employer or an insurer.

There are a number of additional steps that you can take to make sure that your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly.

You must be sure to report the accident to your employer and get a written report signed by the employer. This is an important step in the process of showing that the accident happened on the job and ensuring that the information that the employer and insurer have is accurate. Employers and their insurers often point to gaps in the time from when the accident happened to when a worker reported it to argue that the worker was actually injured outside of his or her job.

Before getting the report signed, make sure that it accurately reflects what happened. If your employer gives you an inaccurate report, consult a Louisiana maritime injury lawyer and respond in writing. Even if the report is accurate, it is often helpful to prepare your own written statement detailing the accident as soon as possible after the accident occurs.

Many injured workers run into trouble when they try to report more than they know. It is better to acknowledge what you do not know about the circumstances of the accident, rather than guess.

Finally, do not return to work if you are injured. Instead, request to be returned to shore and seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

About Louisiana’s Maritime Industry 

The Bayou State is well-known for its vibrant maritime industry from shipping and transportation to seafood fishing and oil and gas exploration. The state’s location at the south end of the Mississippi River and its network of ports are responsible for more than 400,000 jobs across Louisiana.

Louisiana’s maritime industry is the driving force behind the state’s exploding economy. Right off of the Gulf Coast, Louisianans are well aware of the importance of shipbuilding, boating, towing, and other maritime-related activities. Louisiana consistently ranks at or near the very top of the nation in economic impact from America’s domestic maritime industry. 

Louisiana’s 50,000+ maritime jobs inject billions of dollars annually into the Louisiana economy. Louisiana’s domestic maritime industry includes shipyards, marine terminals, vessels and vessel operators, a robust fishing industry, and workers engaged in the movement of cargo within the U.S.

The Port of New Orleans is the sixth-largest in the country, handling more than 70 million tons of goods each year. Louisiana ranks second only to Texas in the number of oil refineries, which process more than 3.2 billion barrels of crude oil per day.

Speak with a Louisiana Maritime Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a barge, tugboat, or other accident off the shore of Louisiana, it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney. Do not accept a deal from your employer or the company’s insurer before first speaking with a Louisiana maritime injury lawyer.

At the Willis Law Firm, we have dedicated our careers to helping workers and their families who suffer from maritime-related injuries in Louisiana and across the country. We regularly take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not get paid unless we successfully resolve your case. Give us a call at 1-800-468-4878 or email us through our online webform to find out more about your legal rights and options.

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