Accidents happen in every mode of travel, but the public hears more about those connected with planes, trains and automobiles than they do about accidents involving ships, barges or oil rigs. People who make a living on oceans, rivers or inland waterways are often in harm’s way, even though they are aware of the dangers and committed to safety. Sailors, seamen and ship workers have rights that are protected by maritime law, but they sometimes require legal advice and representation.
The heavy machinery present on an offshore oil rig and the complex operations required to operate the equipment can combine to cause an inferno if procedures are not followed to the letter. Tankers that transport crude oil are always at risk for explosions simply because of the kind of cargo they carry, which is highly inflammable.
Tugboat and barge accidents
Louisiana has its share of tugboat and barge accidents. Despite their size, tugboats are powerful and they deftly maneuver large ships into port. However, the hull of a large vessel can block the vision of the tugboat pilot, and there is always the potential for collision. On the other hand, many of the accidents that occur on barges are due to the structure of the craft, its limited maneuverability and the possibility of faulty towing cables.
Ship to shore mishaps
Marine crane operations are dangerous, whether they are in port or aboard ship. There may be faulty winches or wires, people working around the cranes may not be visible at all times and crane operators may be inexperienced. Accidents that result may cause death or catastrophic injuries. Cargo-hauling, whether performed at sea or while offloading a ship, is another source of injuries that can include broken bones, crushed limbs, brain injuries and more.
Jones Act protection
The Jones Act is federal legislation that concerns illnesses and injuries that occur on the water. A sailor, seaman or ship worker who spends more than 51 percent of his or her time on a vessel that operates in navigable waters is entitled to recovery from the illness or injury, no matter who was responsible. Neither guilt nor the unseaworthiness of a vessel has to be proved.
For workers who became ill or were injured in their work aboard a vessel operating in navigable waters, the Jones Act entitles them to certain rights under maritime law, including unearned wages. An attorney experienced with maritime law can answer questions and provide the support seamen deserve.