Injured Maritime Worker? Talk to a Mississippi Maritime Lawyer Today
Mississippi is named after the Mississippi River, which flows from Minnesota to Louisiana and eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. With many ships, barges, and other vessels traveling up and down the Mississippi River and other river systems, the maritime industry is a significant force in the state’s economy. Unfortunately, maritime accidents are common in Mississippi, considering the heavy commercial activity on the Mississippi River and other bodies of water flowing through the state, such as the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Pascagoula River, and Pearl River. When maritime accidents occur, especially barge accidents, an experienced Mississippi Maritime lawyer is well-positioned to provide professional legal assistance to injured workers in Biloxi, Gulf Port, Pascagoula, and all other parts of the state.
Our Jones Act law firm has more than 40 years of experience advocating for the rights of seaman, maritime workers, and oil rig workers who have been injured across the nation. We are a top-notch legal team dedicated to helping victims and their families collect the compensation they need to recover from severe maritime and offshore accidents.
Mississippi Maritime Workers Have Important Legal Rights and Remedies
If you are a maritime worker, who has been injured on the job in Mississippi, it is important for you to understand your legal rights and the remedies that may be available to you. Maritime laws are complicated, and depending upon the facts of your case, you may be able to assert multiple legal claims against different parties responsible for your accident.
For instance, if you are classified as a seaman under the Jones Act, you will have the right to collect maintenance and cure benefits from your employer until you reach “maximum medical cure.” Unfortunately, employers in the maritime industry are known for trying to keep maintenance benefits as low as possible. Therefore, even though these payments are meant to cover your daily living costs on land, maintenance payments generally only range between $15 and $40 per day, which is certainly not enough to cover your offshore living costs. At the Willis Law Firm, we know the Jones Act, and we will do everything possible to help ensure you receive the maximum maintenance benefit available and any other payments you may be entitled to through workers’ compensation.
Our firm will also ensure you get the maintenance and cure benefits you need to recover properly from your accident. Under the Jones Act, maritime employers are required to pay for your reasonable medical expenses regardless of who may be to blame for your injuries. Therefore, even though your employer may try to convince you to see the company doctor, you have the right to select your physician to treat your work injury or illness. If your employer is challenging your right to choose your doctor or the amount of medical care you need, a lawyer at our law firm will take aggressive action to ensure your employer covers the cost of the medical care you are legally entitled to.
Which Laws Protect Me?
An array of maritime laws have been enacted to protect workers and injured individuals on or near the water. When you are involved in a maritime accident, it is critical to discuss your case with a skilled Mississippi maritime attorney who can help you navigate the laws and recover the compensation you are legally entitled to. Depending upon the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to file multiple legal claims against different parties who are responsible for your injuries.
Jones Act Claims Against Employers
Under the Jones Act, an employer can be held liable for almost any unsafe condition on a ship or vessel in navigable waters. In addition, if a seaman is injured on the job due to the employer’s negligence or a fellow crew member, the seaman will have the right to file a Jones Act negligence action against the employer. For example, if you slip on an oil spill, trip over debris on deck, fall, or are injured by equipment that your employer failed to maintain correctly, you may be able to file a negligence lawsuit to recover damages from your employer.
General Maritime Claims Against Vessel Owners
Under General Maritime Law, ship and vessel owners have an absolute duty to provide a “seaworthy” vessel to crew members. This generally means the vessel and equipment must be in safe and proper working order. If a worker is injured due to an unseaworthy condition on the vessel, the ship or vessel owner can be held liable. Countless situations can give rise to an unseaworthiness claim ranging from worn-out equipment and improperly designed tools to a lack of posted warning signs and insufficient safety devices.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and Other Maritime Acts
You may be protected under other laws and acts depending upon where you were working when you were injured. For instance, if you are a harbor worker, longshoreman, shipbuilder, or ship repairer injured while working on the Outer Continental Shelf, you may be eligible to collect benefits and compensation under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). The OCSLA and the other acts designed to protect seamen and maritime workers contain many legal nuances. An experienced lawyer will review your situation to determine which laws provide the best opportunity for maximum recovery in your case.
If your injuries were caused by a third party, such as a contractor, product manufacturer, equipment supplier, or a maintenance and repair company, you might also be able to file a legal action against the third party defendant. For example, if a defective piece of machinery injures you, you can file a product liability action against the company that manufactured the defective product that caused your injury. Similarly, if a maintenance and repair company fails to properly service and repair a piece of equipment on your vessel and you are injured, you may be able to file a third-party negligence lawsuit against the company.
A Mississippi Maritime Lawyer at Our Firm Understands What You’re Going Through
Barges are common vessels used in Mississippi waterways. Unfortunately, sometimes barges experience malfunctions that can cause significant damages, injuries, and loss of life. Below, our Mississippi Maritime lawyer discusses the four common issues that cause barges to malfunction and lead to resulting injuries.
Four Common Causes of Injuries on Vessels
Below are four common problems that can cause maritime workers to be injured.
- Engine problems. An engine breakdown is a serious problem that can present itself at any moment. When the bow of a barge lifts, sometimes water rushes into the back of the engine, spraying water onto the starter motor. This can cause significant problems for the engine. It is crucial for owners and operators of barges to keep the bilge and engine dry. Also, engines can become worn out from the lack of routine maintenance. A barge engine malfunction during a trip can cause safety issues to workers, such as causing collisions with other vessels or being stranded mid-journey.
- Negligent repairs. A barge owner needs to ensure that the vessel is always in good working order, inspecting the vessel frequently for things that may need repairs, such as broken steps, stairs, or ladders. Failure to inspect and identify these malfunctioning barge components can lead to severe injuries.
- Faulty ventilation. Adequate ventilation is essential for barges. Confined and enclosed spaces on barges without proper ventilation can create an unsafe atmosphere filled with deadly hazards, such as oxygen deficiency and toxic compounds. Ventilation that is not working correctly or is inadequate can seriously harm a barge worker and, in some cases, even cause death.
- Insufficient Crew. To ensure the safety of everyone onboard a barge, it is essential for a barge owner and operator to adequately plan for an appropriate number of crewmembers on each voyage. Not having enough crew to perform such operations as lifting heavy cables and ropes can create safety issues for many workers aboard the barge and lead to serious injuries.
These problems can cause various accidents and may lead to injuries sustained by workers and others coming into contact with Mississippi vessels.
Common Injuries Occurring on Mississippi Barges
Unfortunately, vessel accidents are inevitable with so much maritime traffic traveling up and down Mississippi waterways each year. Vessels, in general, experience accidents for a variety of reasons such as operator error, failure to follow safety protocols, mechanical breakdowns, defective equipment, and other reasons.
These issues can cause injuries such as:
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
Injuries Due to Chemical Exposure
Barges present additional types of dangerous exposures to barge workers because of the nature of what they transport. For example, some barges carry toxic chemicals in their holding tanks, such as benzene, xylene, toluene, gasoline, jet fuel, and more.
Exposures (including dermal and vapor) to these chemicals can cause workers to become sick with cancers such as:
- AML leukemia
- Blood cancers
- Other types of cancers
Contact The Willis Law Firm Today and Speak to a Top Mississippi Maritime Lawyer
When you are injured in a severe maritime accident, you need a solid legal team on your side. Whether your accident occurred on a ship, tug, barge, jack-up drilling rig, or any other type of maritime vessel or boat, the Willis Law Firm is fully prepared to fight for your legal rights. The Willis Law Firm, a national maritime injury law firm, understands how the marine industry in Mississippi operates, and your Mississippi maritime attorney can help with any injury claim you may have. In addition, we have the legal skills and resources to handle complex and challenging Jones Act and other maritime accident cases. Call us today at 1-800-468-4878 to set up a free, confidential consultation with our firm.