Maritime Accident Attorneys in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Louisiana’s position on the Gulf of Mexico, and its control of rivers like the Mississippi and Calcasieu, means that a number of industries are high-performing here: shipping, oil and gas production, and other maritime industries. Many of the people of Lake Charles take part in these industries in their careers as seamen, derrickmen, divers, floorhands, boat captains, roustabouts, drillers, and more.
While they are a great and reliable source of income for many Louisiana families, oil rig and offshore jobs carry the risk of injury and even death, due to the hazardous nature of the work environments. Offshore workers regularly fall victim to burns, crushed body parts, back and neck injuries, broken bones, and more, due to their close work with heavy machinery and flammable substances, often high above the ground.
A large part of the dangers that these workers face is due to the very nature of the job. The ocean can be unpredictable, and accidents do happen. However, too many of the injuries sustained by rig workers and crew members are the direct result of negligence. If you or a loved one was harmed due to someone else’s negligence on a rig or other maritime setting, you deserve compensation to help you heal and move on with your life.
What Causes Maritime Accidents?
Sometimes, an accident at sea is simply that: a confluence of factors leading up to a seaman’s injury or death. Many injuries at sea, however, are the direct result of poor protocols or carelessness on board a rig or ship. Here are just a few of possible contributors to a potentially deadly maritime accident:
- Poorly-maintained machinery
- Poorly-maintained or nonexistent protective gear
- Neglected safety protocols
- Long hours, leading to a lack of sleep and fatigue
- Inexperience or a lack of training
- Reckless behavior, such as drug and alcohol abuse
- Poor decision making
- Personal relationships
Maritime Injury Law
Because maritime occupations are some of the most dangerous jobs in the country, multiple laws have been passed to help provide seamen and their families with compensation in the event of an untimely death on the job. The following three laws in particular serve to protect offshore workers in their jobs, but all of maritime law is written with safety and security in mind.
Prior to the Jones Act’s passage in 1920, shipping industry workers had no legal recourse for recovering damages from a wrongful injury they received on board a ship. In fact, the shipping industry was mostly unregulated prior to 1920, meaning that injured or sick workers were left on their own to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on.
That all changed in 1920, with the passage of multiple pieces of legislation, including the Jones Act, designed to protect maritime workers from risk. This act allows workers qualified as “seamen” legal rights to seek financial remuneration from those people responsible for their injuries, either due to recklessness, negligence, or an unseaworthy vessel.
In order to qualify for Jones Act rights and protections, a worker must spend at least 30% of their working time aboard ship. Most shipping jobs apply for these protections, but if you’re unsure, you can always talk to one of the qualified maritime injury lawyers at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys to find out whether you’re able to sue under this Act.
Death on the High Seas Act
Also passed in 1920, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) permits the family members of a seaman killed in international waters to recover damages from the responsible parties. This act was created to hold shipping companies, oil companies, and other owners of maritime businesses accountable for keeping their workers safe while on the high seas.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), shipyard workers are more than twice as likely to be injured than their counterparts in the construction industry on land. In fact, the maritime industry is one of the most dangerous in the world, with risks facing offshore workers including
- Falling overboard
- Chemical burns and electric shocks
- Machine explosions and failure
- Exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals
The DOHSA more broadly protects people who die at sea than the Jones Act. For example, if a cruise ship disaster results in the death of employees and passengers on board, the Jones Act only benefits the working employees. However, the DOHSA allows the families of cruise passengers who’ve died to seek compensation for their loved ones’ deaths.
In the modern era, DOHSA also applies to aircraft disasters over international waters.
Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Where the Jones Act only covers workers aboard ships, the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) allows shipyard workers to seek compensation for injuries they may experience on the job. Since these workers use heavy machinery that handles large loads, their risk is high for crushing injuries, toxic exposure, and other injuries.
However, not all jobs are covered by the LHWCA. Only the following workers are qualified to seek damages under that act:
- Longshore workers and operators
- Ship builders
- Ship breakers
- Ship repairmen
- Harbor construction workers
If you’re not sure whether you or your loved one can sue under the LHWCA, call one of our Louisiana maritime lawyers for a free legal consultation.
The Importance of an Experienced Maritime Lawyer
Maritime and admiralty law governs activity that takes place on or near navigable waters. This area of law is complicated, and quite different than other types of law. Because of this, it’s important to hire a lawyer with experience in maritime law specifically.
The maritime injury lawyers with Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys have the experience and drive that it takes to handle your maritime or admiralty personal injury case. Whether the accident took place on an oil rig, tug boat, jack-up rig, submersible, or another vessel, we can help you.
Get the Compensation You Need for an Offshore Accident with Lake Charles Maritime Attorneys
Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys are particularly experienced in Jones Act claims, though we’ve also helped clients recover compensation in a variety of other offshore accident law suits. If you’ve been in an offshore accident and are left unable to work, in pain, or otherwise injured, you could be entitled to financial compensation.Call the injury lawyers in Lake Charles who have a proven track record of results. Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys are committed to each of our clients, so we’re confident we can help you hold the people responsible for your injuries accountable for their negligence. Give us a call at 337.888.8888 for a free legal consultation today.
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