Sometimes injuries on vessels go unreported. In the time it takes some offshore injuries to manifest, the injured offshore worker may be long off the rig, boat, or barge before he realizes he was injured on the job and did not report it to anyone. Just because an offshore work injury was not immediately reported does not mean there is no chance to be made whole under the Jones Act.
Posts tagged "maritime law"
On June 3, 2017, it was announced that the sizeable Herbon oil platform started its two week journey from Bull Arm, St. John's, to the Grand Banks. Eight tow vessels were used to carry the massive platform to its destination.
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.
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.
Unlike typical personal injury lawsuits, claims involving ships and vessels may be subject to special rules that can limit the damages an injured party is entitled to receive following a lawsuit. While most lawsuits seek recovery for the entirety of medical and property damages incurred by an injured individual, these admiralty actions, known as Limitation Actions, can reduce or even eliminate the amount of money available to be awarded.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the "collateral source rule," which prevents a defendant from reducing his liability by the amount a plaintiff recovers from independent sources such as health insurance, does not apply when the defendant's workers' compensation insurance carrier pays benefits pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). Under the court's ruling, written off portions of billed medical expenses are not recoverable when the remaining portion of the billed medical expenses were paid through LHWCA workers' compensation insurance.
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.
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.
Vessel owners and employers are required to report any maritime injury that requires more than basic first aid and makes the injured seaman unable to perform his work. Oftentimes seamen and offshore workers are directly or indirectly told by their supervisors not to fill out an incident report. This happens for a variety of reasons. For example, many employers and ship owners give bonuses to crews and captains that demonstrate a low number of accidents. Unfortunately, some supervisors attempt to suppress accident reports for these and other reasons.
General maritime law provides injured seamen with a "trinity" of rights against employers and shipowners. First, maintenance and cure requires that the employers and shipowners of injured seamen pay for accident-related medical care and an amount for room and board. Second, when the unseaworthiness of the vessel or its crew cause the seamen's injury, then the seaman can sue for unseaworthiness in tort. Third, a Jones Act seaman has a statutory cause of action against his employer if the employer was even slightly negligent.