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Louisiana Maritime Law Blog

Preventing shrimp boat fatalities

Louisiana is one of the top shrimp boating destinations in the United States. As shrimp boaters still have a couple of months before the fall shrimp season ends, now is an important time to review safety measures to prevent any major accidents from happening near the shoreline.

Between 2010 and 2014, shrimp boaters had the highest fatality count out of all the active commercial fishing businesses in the Gulf of Mexico. As the air becomes cooler and the sun shines less, it is important that all vessel members prepare themselves for a potential emergency.

What is the fascinating, hidden history of the Jones Act?

Many maritime workers know the Jones Act as a crucial law regarding workers’ compensation. The Jones Act requires employers to maintain safety standards on their vessels and provide a safe workplace for seamen and other workers. The act also allows workers to file lawsuits against their employers if they suffer an injury on the job.

But few people know the controversial history of the Jones Act. In his post, we will revisit the hidden history of this now-crucial law.

3 things that can make dock workers safer

Dock workers face a lot of daily hazards on the job, and they need to take as many steps as possible to stay safe. This will not guarantee that accidents do not happen, but it may reduce the odds of an accident and/or the severity of that accident.

Below are three things that can help significantly:

  • Put safety before productivity. It is sometimes less efficient to use safety equipment or have routine safety checks to look for hazards. However, rushing and cutting corners both lead to serious accidents. Safety must come first. It must be a priority.
  • Give workers proper training. Even if a worker technically causes an accident, it may not actually be that worker's fault. Did they get proper training? Were they actually certified to use the tools they were using? Again, many companies prioritize production, so they want workers to get on the job as fast as possible. That can mean giving them inadequate training -- or none at all -- and that's when people get hurt.
  • Focus on communication. A lot of accidents just happen because of simple communication mistakes. A worker does not know that heavy machinery is being used in the area and accidentally walks into a hazard zone, for instance. Workers have to be on the same page, and they have to communicate to keep each other safe.

Insider tips for how to keep your family happy as a rig worker

Rig workers know how to stay safe, how to do their job and a lot about the industry. It's a lot of long hours of physically taxing, demanding labor and focus. At times it's dangerous. Most wives know and appreciate this. But what many guys don't know, especially if you are newly married or just had a kid, is how to work through the rough spots that being away for so long creates. 

A recent article in Today's Parent magazine talked about what each partner or parent needs to have a healthy and happy marriage and family when one person works away or travels. The research found that when one spouse travels (especially with rig workers) they need to tune in, they need to keep communication open from the very moment they step in the door. Once you take the time to find out what your spouse needs you have the power to keep your relationship in a good place. 

Maintenance and cure and workers' compensation are different

If you are a seaman that has been injured or become ill, then you may have heard the terminology "maintenance and cure" thrown about. It essentially refers to your right to have your medical expenses covered by a shipowner if you're hurt on the job.

While the idea of maintenance and cure may sound like workers' compensation coverage, it's a little different from it. Under this doctrine, a shipowner is required to pay for a seaman's medical costs regardless of whether they were hurt or became ill on the job or somewhere else.

The difference between a Give-Way Vessel and a Stand-On Vessel

Waterways are not as clearly marked as roadways, so it is important for those guiding their vessels to know exactly who has the right-of-way when two vessels occupy the same space. Any minor mistakes made in this situation can lead to collisions and potentially catastrophic injuries to the crew — not to mention the serious damage to the vessels themselves.

Two of the most basic classifications for boats involve determining which one is the Give-Way Vessel and which one is the Stand-On Vessel.

Shipyards are particularly unsafe for workers

Many may think that working at sea would be far more dangerous than work in a shipyard. Sadly, that's often not the case. There are various aspects of wharf, shipping terminal, harbor or shipyard work that can be particularly hazardous.

One aspect of working in a harbor that makes workers particularly vulnerable to suffering injuries is that there is often no set schedule. Ships may need to be quickly repaired so that they can get back out to sea. Boats may need to have cargo taken off of them. They may arrive in a port at all hours of the day. A worker may end up spending long hours performing hard manual labor.

What is a TBI?

A TBI is a traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately many commercial fishermen and oil rig workers are vulnerable to a TBI because of the slippery surfaces of the boats and rigs.Anyone who hits his or her head can suffer from a brain injury, including motor vehicle accident victims, victims of assault and sports injury victims. TBIs include concussions and skull fractures. 

What are the symptoms of a TBI?

How oil companies plan for hurricane season in the Gulf

As hurricane season once again bears down on the Gulf Coast, those who work on offshore oil rigs are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Technological advances allow meteorologists to more accurately predict the timing and path of storms than they could decades ago. This allows energy companies and others with oil platforms and other offshore facilities in the Gulf to more accurately determine at what point they need to evacuate their workers.

Who qualifies to file a Longshore or Jones Act claim?

If a worker on a water vessel becomes injured, then they may be eligible to file either a claim under the Jones or Longshore Act. Many employers don't understand the subtle differences between the two well enough to be able to advise their employees which to file.

It's important to keep in mind that the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) and Jones Act (JA) aren't mutually exclusive. Instead, the former is a type of workers' compensation coverage, whereas the latter is used by those looking to hold negligent parties accountable in a personal injury case.

Discuss your rights during a free consultation. There’s no fee unless we win.

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