Maritime Injury Lawyer in Mobile, Alabama
The maritime industry provides jobs for countless people in the oil, gas, fishing, and transportation industries. Unfortunately, injuries are all too common in this line of work, and many workers incur high medical expenses or lose wages after an accident. Maritime injuries are not limited to those who work on the open water, either. Port and dock workers can also suffer severe joint and bone injuries, just like other maritime workers.
These injuries are quite serious and can keep workers out of their jobs for months or longer. In the case of more serious injuries, maritime workers may be paralyzed and never able to return to work again. Compensation is needed to reimburse medical expenses, pay for rehabilitation, and replace lost income.
Do I Need A Maritime Injury Lawyer on the Gulf Coast?
Have you been hurt on a boat, ship or oil rig? Do you have questions regarding your rights following an accident or injury on a river, bay, harbor, or ocean? At the law firm of Clay, Massey & Associates, P.C., our experienced attorneys have handled maritime accident law since 1972, and have handled hundreds of maritime claims for clients from New Orleans to Panama City and beyond.
Our attorneys are fully knowledgeable regarding injured workers’ rights under the Jones Act, The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and general maritime law. We handle injury and wrongful death for claims occurring along the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coasts and even along far-away coasts off other nations’ shores. We recently handled a maritime injury case that occurred in the Middle East, because the ship on which the accident occurred was based out of New Orleans.
We have handled a broad range of accidents affecting workers in almost all maritime positions, including:
- Tugboat workers
- Oil rig workers
- Shipyard workers
- Barge workers
- Tankerman and more
Our lawyers are experienced in negotiating and litigating maritime accident claims, which enables us to pursue full compensation on your behalf. In a recent wrongful death case that occurred when our clients’ family member fell into an oil tank on an oil tanker, we recovered a $1.25 million settlement.
What Are The Most Common Maritime Injuries?
Joint and Bone Injuries
Maritime work is physically grueling, and joint and bone injuries are quite common. These injuries are quite serious and can keep workers out of their jobs for months or longer. In the case of more serious injuries, maritime workers may be paralyzed and never able to return to work again. Some frequent injuries we see are concussions, spinal injuries, or broken bones from being struck by a vessel, equipment or cargo. Other injuries may include hip or shoulder injuries from a slip & fall or from handling heavy equipment, and repetitive stress injuries caused by performing the same motion over and over for long periods of time.
Joint and bone maritime injuries are not limited to those who work on the open water, either. Port and dock workers can also suffer severe joint and bone injuries, just like other maritime workers. Compensation is needed to reimburse medical expenses, pay for rehabilitation, and replace lost income.
Falling Overboard into the Water
Falling into the water is not only common but is, unfortunately, one of the deadliest types of accidents. Many maritime workers can be swept off boats or tossed into the water by a strong wave. Maritime workers who fall into the water can drown or even die from hypothermia before being rescued. Injured workers or their survivors can sue to receive compensation for their injuries or for the loss of their loved one.
Today, a lot of chemicals are transported over the sea, which can injure maritime workers who handle the cargo. These chemicals can cause fires which burn and maim workers or even lead to their deaths. However, some chemicals injure workers in more subtle ways. For example, maritime workers might inhale chemicals, or the chemicals might soak through clothing and be absorbed by the skin. The resulting disease or respiratory ailment might take years or decades to develop.
No injury is too small, and what seems like a minor scrape or a bump on the head might turn into something much more serious over time. Maritime law is complex, and determining who or when to sue requires an experienced maritime injury lawyer.
“I had a great experience with Mr. Eddie Massey. He was very patient and understanding throughout the whole process. He always explained everything to me and let me decide what I would like to do. He never made me feel forced me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. He was with me every step of the way. He made this scary process very easy.”
What Laws Govern Maritime & Offshore Injuries?
Maritime law and four federal acts cover those hurt or killed at sea, as their workspace contains many of the elements of an accident – wild weather; slippery surfaces; heavy, moving equipment; toxic material exposure, and extreme temperatures. You should seek the help of an experienced maritime attorney to collect your best benefits. Often times, you can even make a claim under multiple laws.
Maritime law historically gave the injured Seaman “Maintenance and Cure.” All doubts and ambiguities are often resolved in favor of the injured seaman. Maintenance covers the seaman’s daily living expenses during recovery and cure covers medical expenses. These benefits end when the doctor releases you. You may be able to collect punitive damages or even bring a separate negligence claim against your employer for future damages under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act allows Seamen to sue their employer for injuries at work caused by negligence. To win, the Seaman must prove that the negligence of another caused his injuries while he was at work, and that the employer’s negligence – no matter how small – contributed to the accident. Examples of employer negligence include failing to properly train employees, failing to provide proper safety equipment, and failing to warn about dangerous areas.
Beware of signing any documents offered by your employer or its insurance company. Contact an experienced maritime law attorney, like those at the law offices of Clay, Massey & Associates, to make sure your rights are protected.
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The LHWCA provides workers’ compensation for maritime workers. The LHWCA covers maritime workers who unload and load cargo, repair ships, and work on decks and piers including ship mechanics, harbor workers, and longshore workers. It excludes workers covered by state workers’ compensation programs. To protect your right to possible future benefits, you should file under the LHWCA within one year of your injury even if your employer voluntarily pays your benefits and compensation while you are injured.
Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The DOHSA covers the accidental death of a maritime worker more than three miles from U.S. shores. The Death must have been caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default occurring on the high seas beyond a marine league (3 miles) from the shore of any state.” Only a spouse, child, dependent relative, or their legal representative can file a claim. The amount paid is calculated according to several factors including the amount of compensation the related survivors would have received if the worker had not died. There is a 3-year statute of limitations.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) of 1953
The OCSLA extends workers’ compensation to workers on the Outer Continental Shelf. This Act extends LHWCA to workers injured or killed upon fixed structures such as oil well platforms that are attached to the outer continental shelf to conduct natural resource exploration or development. The provisions and limitations of LHWCA apply.
Who Is Responsible For My Offshore Injury?
People can be injured in maritime & offshore jobs in a variety of ways. For example, the boat might have crashed, tipped over, or sunk. Passengers can also be injured from hitting a wave or the wake of another boat. Offshore or maritime injuries can result in sky-high medical bills, and victims can be in pain for years. Before you can get the compensation you deserve, you need to identify the person legally responsible for your injury. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Clay, Massey & Associates, P.C., have decades of experience analyzing cases to pinpoint the right person to sue.
The Boat Operator
Whoever is operating the boat is frequently responsible for injuries. The operator might have been “negligent” in how they operated the boat, which is the legal term for carelessness. For example, when a boat operator hits another boat’s wake, you’ll need to consider the following factors:
- The size of the wake. A giant wake should be visible. However, if the wake was small, it’s less likely an operator will be responsible for any injuries.
- How fast the boat was going. The faster the boat was traveling, the more likely the operator was careless.
- Whether the operator warned the passengers that you were coming up on a wake. If no warning was given, it’s more likely that the operator was negligent.
Every situation is different, and only a lawyer experienced inshore boat injuries can properly evaluate all the facts and circumstances before deciding whether to sue a boat operator.
The Boat Owner
Often, the owner and operator are the same person—but not always. For example, an owner might have hired someone else to operate the boat. In many situations, an owner can be legally responsible for injuries even if they were not personally operating the boat. For example, an owner might not have had the necessary safety equipment on a boat, such as flares or life jackets. The absence of this equipment can hamper a quick rescue and might have caused your injuries.
An owner can also be responsible for negligence (carelessness) in hiring an operator. For example, the owner might not have performed even a basic criminal background check, which would have uncovered that the operator has a criminal record. In this situation, you might be able to hold the boat owner legally responsible for your injuries.
The Boat Manufacturer
Some accidents are beyond the control of either the owner or operator. For example, a boat might have been defectively manufactured. If the defect caused the accident and your injury, then you can sue the boat manufacturer for creating a defective product.
Sometimes a boat might have been manufactured according to the designs but the designs themselves are faulty. This is called a “design defect,” and you can sue the boat manufacturer for your injuries. Building a case will require that your personal injury lawyer hire expert witnesses who can explain to a jury what was faulty with the design.
The above are only some of the people who can be held legally responsible for your injuries. Each case is different, and only an experienced maritime injury lawyer in Mobile, Alabama, can analyze your case and decide who to sue for compensation. At Clay, Massey & Associates, we have over 46 years of experience helping people injured in offshore & maritime accidents get the compensation they deserve.
What Can I Do If I’ve Been Injured On A Cruise Ship?
Two types of people may be injured while aboard a cruise ship, paying passengers or crewmembers (staff of the cruise ship). Both types of injured persons may have different legal claims. The claims depend on the injuries sustained, the persons who may be liable for the injuries and the law applicable to the claims. Some examples of possible claims are negligence, medical negligence or assault. Generally, the ship owners will be liable for any injuries of passengers or crewmembers, since the owners have a duty to provide a safe environment and protect persons aboard their ship from known (or foreseeable) dangers. A cruise ship injury attorney can help the injured determine the various safety regulations and areas of neglect that may caused the injury, or what could have been done to prevent the injury.
If the injured person is a passenger on the ship, he or she may have a claim against the ship owner for compensation for injuries sustained. The legal claim will usually be for negligence. The injured person (or family members on his or her behalf) must be able to prove the elements of negligence to the court. If you believe that you may need a cruise ship injury attorney in Alabama or anywhere along the gulf coast, continue to read on.
The elements of negligence are as follows:
- The ship owner had a legal duty to the passenger
- The duty was breached by the ship owner
- As a result of that breach, the passenger was injured
- The passenger sustained damages as a result of his or her injuries
However, if the injured person was a crewmember of the cruise ship, he or she may have a legal claim under the federal Jones Act for compensation. His or her claim will also be against the ship owner (employer). The Jones Act provides legal remedies for injured workers who are seamen. It is similar to the Federal Employers Liability Act that gives injured workers legal rights to compensation against their employers. Under the Jones Act, the crewmember must be able to prove the elements of negligence (by the employer/ship owner) in court; the elements of negligence are the same as for paying passengers.
Alternatively, there are situations where the injury was not caused by a dangerous condition on the ship, but by another person aboard the ship. These situations may be of assault or a medical negligence. If assault of a passenger was committed by a crewmember, the ship owners may be held liable for the acts of their employee, in some jurisdictions. In other jurisdictions, the ship owner will not be held liable for employee actions unless the plaintiff (injured person) can show that the owner (employer) was negligent in hiring a dangerous crewmember, or knew of the crewmembers propensity for violence and did nothing to stop it, or continued to employ the crewmembers.
Similarly, jurisdictions may hold ship owners liable for hiring competent doctors and medical staff, but not hold them liable for actions of their medical staff when treating passengers. Other courts may hold a ship owner liable for any actions of employees, whether they are a crewmember, medical doctor or other medical staff member. The possible claims and liable parties will depend on the situation, the law that applies and the court (jurisdiction) that hears the claim. Since there may be many variables that affect what type of claim the injured party may have, what jurisdiction the claim may be in and what law apples, it is important to speak to an attorney about your situation and to answer any questions you may before pursuing your claim.
Contact Our Personal Injury Firm in Mobile, Alabama
The injury attorneys at Clay, Massey & Associates, P.C., provides free initial consultations. We are conveniently located in downtown Mobile, Alabama. We are available for hospital and home visits and work exclusively on a contingency fee basis — you pay no attorney’s fees unless we win your case. To contact an attorney at our firm, call 251-433-1000.