If you were to ask Houston residents about their occupations and livelihoods, chances are you would come across many who work in the transportation and oil industries. Without a doubt, these two industries play a major role in the economy of Houston. It is also a commonly known fact that Houston dominates oil and gas exploration and production in the United States, and crew boats are essential to the transportation industry. Unfortunately, many who work at sea are no strangers to crew boat accidents. Sometimes, rented or leased crew boats are unseaworthy. Other times, in their eagerness to make money, crews and even captains behave recklessly. Bad weather is also a common factor for some of these offshore accidents. The unfortunate price is that many workers suffer one or more injuries by the end of the season. In some cases, maritime accidents end in death.
Crew Boat Accident Attorneys in Houston
There are both state and federal laws that protect maritime workers who suffer serious injuries on the job. These laws grant the right to rehabilitation, medical testing, treatment, lost wages, and room and board to injured maritime workers. Unfortunately, many maritime workers are either unaware of these laws or unsure how to advocate for themselves after suffering injuries in an accident.
If you have suffered injuries or assault on a crew boat, a maritime attorney from Pierce | Skrabanek may be able to help you seek out compensation for any expenses related to recovery, lost wages, pain, and personal suffering.
Work Boat Accidents
Crew boats, frequently referred to as a supply ships, are designed to carry many types of cargo. Some types of cargo often carried by crew ships in open deck space include casing, tubing, and drill pipes. In tanks below the deck of crew ships, large amounts of cement, liquid mud, fuel, and drilling fluids are transported. The main purpose of crew boats is to transport maritime workers back and forth from vessels (such as offshore drilling platforms, drilling ships, and jack up rigs) to ports and other boats.
Most maritime workers frequently work in dangerous conditions. These hazardous conditions include rough seas, bad weather, and high winds. Due to these unsavory conditions, crew members are frequently injured while loading and unloading cargo.
What makes matters worse for many maritime workers is that drilling companies and operators often show complete disregard for safety in favor of getting the job done quickly and efficiently. Not only can these conditions and negligence result in serious injuries, but they can also result in death.
The combination of all these factors results in thousands of injuries and casualties suffered by maritime workers every year. In an effort to protect maritime workers, many laws have been passed granting those who are injured rights.
Types of Crew and Work Boat Accidents
While no two crew or work boat accidents are identical, these maritime accidents can be divided into two major categories. Maritime accidents on crew and work boats can occur in transit or in transfer.
Accidents in transit occur during the trip of a crew boat to or from a destination offshore. Some common in transit accidents include slip and falls on deck, falling due to bad handling of vessels, and being struck by heavy cargo.
While some in transit accidents occur due to rough seas and bad weather, others occur due to the negligence of drilling companies and operators. For example, the failure to keep the decks of crew boats dry is a common cause of slip and falls.
Crew transfers can be completed with a gangway, ladder, basket, or surfer. Maritime accidents can also occur in transfer. Drilling companies and operators as well as maritime workers are required to follow specific rules and guidelines for the safety of seamen and offshore workers. When these rules and guidelines are not followed, accidents and injuries are a common consequence.
Maritime accidents in transfer often occur when:
- Operators fail to brief transferees on proper procedures.
- Crews don’t have access to assistance at one or both transfer ends.
- There is no experienced personnel to supervise transfers.
- Personnel do not have access to handrails or other forms of support to hold onto during the transfer.
Do You Need a Crew Boat Accident Attorney
Working on a crew boat is a dangerous occupation for maritime workers due to the difficult conditions in which they often have to work. While most maritime workers are well aware of the potential dangers they face, many are unprepared when they suffer a serious injury during an accident. While some maritime workers can only blame the weather for their injuries, others have to live with an injury caused by the negligence of other crew members or the captain.
You need a crew boat attorney if you desire compensation for the lost wages, medical costs, and physical pain you now endure and may have to deal with for some time to come. A crew boat attorney will help you pursue one of the several options for compensation. Not only will the attorney guide you throughout the entire process, but he or she will take the time to answer any questions you and your loved ones have.
The two main options for compensation that injured maritime workers have are Maintenance and Cure and Workers’ Compensation. Maintenance and Cure covers the cost of daily life and medical expenses. The amount a maritime worker is granted from Workers’ Compensation is determined by the state.
After sustaining an injury on the job, many maritime workers make the mistake of assuming their employers will play fair and respect their best interests. Under no circumstances should you make this assumption. Most employers will promptly hire an accident lawyer to attempt to disprove charges of negligence to avoid the costs of compensation. You need a skilled and experienced maritime attorney to advocate for your rights.
Work Boat Accidents and the Jones Act
The Jones Act refers to a federal statute passed to protect the rights of seamen injured on crew boats, work boats, and other vessels and structures designed for the transportation of equipment, passengers, and cargo across water. While most people who work on crew boats, work boats, and supply vessels are considered seamen, not all will be classified seamen under the Jones Act. To ensure the Jones Act applies to your situation, you should discuss your situation with an attorney.
If a Jones Act seaman suffers injuries on the job, this Act grants the seaman a number of legal protections. The seaman will be able to receive maintenance and cure benefits from the employer. The employer must pay these benefits no matter who is at fault for the injury or illness of the seaman. The seaman will receive these benefits from the time at which the accident occurred to the maximum medical cure, which is when the seaman can return to regular employment.
To avoid paying Maintenance and Cure benefits, many employers attempt to force employees to seek treatment at the hands of an internal physician. In some cases, the employer will refuse to pay for treatment and diagnostic tests. According to the Jones Act, injured seamen have the right to choose their own medical providers. Contact an attorney for help if your employer is attempting to coerce you into visiting the company physician.
How a Maritime Attorney Can Help You
Here at Pierce | Skrabanek, our Houston Maritime attorneys are dedicated to helping Houston workers and their families receive the compensation and settlement they deserve after a serious injury or fatality on the job.
If you would like to discuss your situation with a maritime attorney, we offer consultations at no charge. Our lawyers are here to advocate for your rights and well being. Call us today at (832) 690-7200 or use the form on this page for a free case evaluation to learn your legal options.