St. Landry Parish Man Files Jones Act Claim in New Orleans Over Burn Injuries Received While Onboard Sinking Ship
A St. Landry Parish man filed a Jones Act claim after he allegedly suffered burns while aboard a sinking offshore vessel. Earlier this month, Marc Mayer filed a lawsuit in New Orleans federal court against TK Marine Services, TK Towing Inc., CCS Energy Services, CCS 7525, and Phoenix Exploration Co. over burn injuries he purportedly received on August 11, 2010. According to Mayer, he was working onboard the M/V CCS Leader I when the ship unexpectedly began to sink. He claims he was burned during the event.
In his lawsuit, Mayer accuses the defendants of several acts of negligence including the failure to provide a safe working environment, properly maintain the vessel, provide workers with the proper safety equipment, and discover and correct unsafe vessel conditions. The companies are also accused of maintaining a vessel that was not seaworthy, providing inadequate supervision, failing to provide a sufficient number of trained workers, and continuing to employ workers who were careless and improperly trained. Mayer asked the court to provide him with compensation for medical costs, disability, pain, mental suffering, maintenance and cure, and punitive damages. He is also seeking an award of attorney's fees and interest.
Employees injured while they are working offshore generally have no recourse through state workers' compensation laws. Instead, offshore workers are protected by the Jones Act. The Act was passed by Congress in 1920 and allows an employee injured while working onboard a marine vessel to sue his or her employer directly based on the employer's negligence or the ship's lack of seaworthiness. The provisions of the Jones Act provide offshore workers with remedies previously unavailable through normal maritime laws.
To file a Jones Act claim, the vessel on which a worker's injury occurred cannot be affixed to the seafloor and the worker must fit the Act's definition of a seaman. Traditionally, courts have interpreted the Act so that most workers on a marine ship or other vessel are considered seamen. Damages available to an injured seaman under the Act include compensation for personal injuries and maintenance and cure. Non-pecuniary damage awards are prohibited under the Act, however. It can be difficult to determine an offshore worker's status and the amount of damages a hurt worker may be awarded under the Jones Act. If you were injured offshore, it is advisable to contact a qualified Jones Act lawyer to evaluate your case.