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Top Four Common Causes of Maritime Accidents

Maritime worker A maritime accident is an accident which occurs at sea. Maritime accidents generally happen on ships or boats, although they can sometimes include airplane and helicopter crashes that happen over water, too. Compensation for injuries sustained due to a maritime accident is governed by maritime law, also known as “admiralty” law.

The Slip and Fall at Sea

If you work on a ship or an oil rig, you likely spend a great deal of time on deck—outside and exposed to the elements. Slip and fall cases are among the most common types of personal injury suits litigated on land, but they take on particular significance in the maritime context. The exterior deck of a vessel or platform is often quite slick and dangerous. This danger is only exacerbated by some owners’ and captains’ negligent refusal to enforce deck cleanliness policies and other health and safety regulations. In short, it’s a lot easier to slip and fall at sea—and because you are at sea—the consequences of such a slip and fall can be far more dramatic and long lasting than those sustained because of an errant puddle located at your local grocery store.

Sailors, unlike most land-based jobs, often have to climb heights while working in inclement weather. A ship master’s failure to maintain cleanliness and good order can seriously endanger their crew. If you’ve been injured by a slip and fall at sea, maritime law will apply to your claim.

Equipment Failure / Unseaworthiness

Another cause of injury at sea is improper equipment and/or equipment failure. A boat owner is required to provide a “seaworthy” vessel, which includes providing and maintaining all necessary and industry standard equipment—appurtenances, ropes, numeric tools, wrenches, stairs, stairways and non-skid decking all represent potential injury sites if not properly designed, installed and maintained.

Inadequate Crew

General maritime law and the Jones Act mandate that vessels provide not only proper equipment and appurtenances to accomplish the vessel’s mission, but also adequate crew. An experienced maritime attorney can help evaluate the appropriate number and quality of crew members, including captains and deckhands, to accomplish a vessel’s mission, whether the boat is transporting personnel and equipment (“a crew boat”) or supporting oil and gas exploration (“drilling rig,” “semi-submersible rig,” “jack-up rig,” etc.). Inadequate and/or improperly licensed or trained crew remain a significant danger to all in the maritime environment.

Personnel Basket / Gangplank Personnel Transfer Incidents

Many offshore accidents occur as personnel attempt to gain access to the vessel either by gangplank, personnel basket or other means. Often deck-mounted cranes transfer personnel and cargo from vessels at sea to platforms. Such activities are inherently dangerous, particularly with changing weather conditions (winds and seas) on the water. Special care is required to provide appropriate equipment and trained personnel to assist crew member transfers. Again, an experienced maritime attorney will be helpful, if not required, to provide guidance on industry standards in all personnel and cargo transfer situations.

If you’ve been injured in an offshore or vessel accident, please contact our experienced maritime attorneys at Anderson, Dozier, Blanda & Saltzman for a free consultation at (337) 233-3366.

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