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Maritime Accidents Archives

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency Withdraws Jones Act Proposal

Last month the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) announced that it will suspend and reconsider a set of regulatory amendments to the Jones Act that were proposed by the Obama administration.

Alaska Oil Company Fined with Largest Jones Act Penalty in History of the Act

In 2011, Furie Operating Alaska, an Alaskan oil and gas company, transported the Spartan 151 jack-up drill rig from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska using a foreign-flagged vessel. The company agreed to pay a record $10,000,000 fine for failing to get pre-approval from the U.S. government to use a foreign-flagged vessel for the transport.

In Landmark Decision, Supreme Court of Washington Holds that Jones Act Seamen Can Recover Punitive Damages for Vessel Unseaworthiness

On March 9, 2017, the Supreme Court of Washington held that a Jones Act seaman could recover punitive damages in an unseaworthiness claim. At least within the state of Washington, this ruling clarified previous confusion regarding applicability of common law damages for unseaworthiness claims. The case involved a plaintiff who lost two of his fingers while moving fish below deck. A hatch with a broken handle could not be closed in time and severed the plaintiff's fingers. The plaintiff alleged that the vessel operators knew about the broken handle but failed to repair it.

When Longshoremen and Stevedores Bring Suit: Vessel Duties Under the LHWCA

Like most maritime accident claims, injuries to longshoremen and stevedores can involve a complex web of state and federal laws. The Longshore and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act (LHWCA) and case law interpreting the LHWCA outline three duties that vessel owners and operators owe to longshoremen and stevedores. First, the vessel owner and operator have a turnover duty. That duty requires that owners and operators turn their vessel over to the longshoremen and stevedores without hidden dangers. This duty does not require that ship owners and operators remedy open and obvious conditions or easily-anticipated conditions. The vessel's turnover duty is one of the most litigated duties that vessel owners and operators owe to longshoremen and stevedores.

Fire Burns on Oil Platform Off the Coast of Louisiana

Yesterday, four oil platform workers jumped off an oil production platform off the coast of Louisiana into the Gulf of Mexico in an attempt to flee an early morning fire that threatened to cause serious bodily injury. Luckily, the workers were quickly recovered from the water by a responding vessel. No injuries have been reported thus far, but it remains to be seen if these workers suffered any internal injuries from smoke inhalation or from the trauma of jumping into the water.

Two Crewmembers Lost at Sea in Exito Sinking

The United States Coast Guard called off the search for two missing crewmembers of the fishing vessel Exito in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, following several days of intense search operations involving multiple Coast Guard and good Samaritan vessels and aircraft. The missing crewmembers abandoned ship after the vessel began taking on water for an undetermined cause. The Exito was one of 25 vessels selected in 2004 for a $97 million federal buyout. As a part of the deal, the Exito was retired and barred from commercial fishing anywhere in the world. At the time of its sinking, the Exito was engaged in cargo or freight purposes. Three crewmembers were luckily rescued, but the two missing individuals are presumed lost at sea.

Travelers Should Verify Cruise Ship Cleanliness Before Traveling

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides reporting on the cleanliness of many cruise ship vessels that hail from United States ports, giving travelers the opportunity to determine the historical cleanliness of cruise ship vessels prior to travel. The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program makes reports available to the public as they are completed.

Offshore Oil and Gas Rigs Are Getting Back to Work

Throughout the United States, the number of oil and gas rigs operating offshore has been on a steady increase. As of September 30, 2016, Baker Hughes reported 22 rigs operating offshore, with 21 of those rigs located in the Gulf of Mexico. While still down from 29 operating offshore rigs one year ago, the oil and gas industry is climbing out of one of the most severe production downturns in recent history.

Vessel Owners Owe Seaman an Ineligible Duty to Maintain the Vessel Seaworthiness

Vessel owners operating in navigable waters have a duty to maintain their vessels in a "seaworthy" condition. Whether an injured seaman has a claim for vessel unseaworthiness is often an issue in maritime injury litigation. "Seaworthiness" is more than a vessel's ability to travel from Point A to Point B. Courts often define the term to require that the vessel be constructed, outfitted, manned, and in all respects fit for a voyage at sea.

Maritime Casualty Investigations: How Technological Advances Create Opportunities for Collaboration

Civil litigation seeking recovery for injuries that mariners receive in the course and scope of their employment often draw upon the information obtained by governmental accident investigations. Often, the question that follows "did your employer fill out an accident report?" is: "Did the Coast Guard do an investigation?" The reason why lawyers who represent injured seamen are interested in governmental investigations is the same reason that lawyers who represent maritime companies are interested: We want the truth.

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