Louisiana families of maritime workers are well aware of the risks their loved ones face every day. One man and his wife have experienced these risks first hand. The wife has now filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Louisiana against Smith Maritime and others after her husband suffered disabling injuries while on the job.
The incident occurred when her husband was working as a crew member on a marine vessel operated by Smith Maritime and Callaway Barge Lines. The man was aboard the ship as a deckhand when the ship attempted to pull another barge off the bank. A welded D-ring failed and hit the man in the head. He was seriously injured and has been hospitalized since the accident.
The lawsuit alleges multiple violations under the Jones Act against Smith Maritime, Callaway Barge Lines Inc. and ABC Insurance Cos. The Jones Act was implemented in 1920 to protect sailors and make sure that companies provided a safe work environment for them. The Jones Act gives officers and crew members a chance to file a lawsuit against their employers for negligence if that negligence causes death or injury at sea. They can recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other expenses. In order to receive compensation, they must show that their injuries occurred while on a navigable vessel and that they were a "seaman" at the time of the injury.
The dangers that maritime workers face are endless and some of them suffer as a result. While nothing can erase the suffering endured by the workers on these vessels, a lawsuit may be able to provide some financial relief.
Source: Louisiana Record, "Wife of deckhand sues Smith Maritime claiming negligence caused husband's brain injuries," Robert Hadley, Dec. 16, 2015