HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS – Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP, Houston maritime lawyer, represent a 41 year old rigger foreman from Lake Charles, Louisiana, who was onboard a derrick barge in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana at the time of the incident. The barge in question had several holes in its deck, and while working, the plaintiff fell into one of those holes sustaining a knee injury due to the negligence of Global Industries, Ltd. The incident occurred on June 21, 2010.
Plaintiff is a 41 year old rigger foreman that worked for Global Industries, Ltd for approximately five years. The plaintiff, his wife and 2 of their children live in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Injury to left knee. MRI revealed chondromalacia patella and a torn meniscus. An orthopedic surgeon has recommended and plaintiff will soon undergo corrective surgery.
Global Industries, Ltd.’s corporate headquarters are located in Carlyss, Louisiana. They are engaged in the business of providing offshore construction, engineering, project management and support services including pipeline construction, platform installation and removal, decommissioning/P&A, deepwater/SURG installations, IRM and diving to the oil and gas industry worldwide.
This deck was unseaworthy and the Jones Act employer was negligent through actions of Plaintiff’s co-workers.
Unlike nearly every other body of law, the Jones Act allows an injured worker to sue his employer for the employer’s or the co-employees negligence occurring during work. An employer has a duty to exercise care by providing a reasonably safe work environment, training about safety in the workplace, and by providing adequate equipment. Also, a seaman may also sue a vessel owner if the vessel is unseaworthy. “Unseaworthy” or “Unseaworthiness” does not mean that the vessel cannot float; it means that the item that is “unseaworthy” is “not fit for its intended purpose”.
The Jones Act allows an injured worker to sue his employer for:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Past lost wages
- Future loss of earning capacity
- Past & Future Medical Expenses
- And other elements of damages
Unlike the workers’ compensation scheme, maritime law allows for the recovery of maintenance & cure benefits. The failure of the employer to pay for a seaman’s medical care or his “down time” due to an injury or illness, may give rise to a claim for punitive damages under the Atlantic Sounding case decided by the United States Supreme Court. Often times the employee is not aware of these benefits. Also, the Jones Act is offers an injured employee a far greater scope for recovery; but it is a fault based system as compared to workmans’ compensation which is not fault based. That is why you need representation early.
The Jones Act applies to employees who are injured in the service of a vessel or fleet of vessels, when they contribute to the mission of this vessel. Under current law, a vessel includes: jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, ships, drill barges, drill ships, spud barges, hopper barges, tankers, tugs, towboats, river casino’s, tug boats, shrimp boats, fishing boats, trollers, crew boats, utility boats, supply boats, floaters, offshore support vessels, water taxies and a host of other types of vessels. If the injured worker is working aboard one of these vessels, and their work contributes, in any way, to the overall mission of that vessel, then they are entitled to sue their employers and/or co-employees for injuries.