Working on the water can be dangerous due to unpredictable water and weather conditions, as well as the negligence of shipping companies. The Jones Act allows many seamen who have been injured on-the-job to file lawsuits against their negligent employers. One vessel employee has filed suit in Louisiana against a vessel owner after a slip-and-fall onboard.
The employee was employed as a chef on the Hercules 85 vessel when he slipped while climbing down stairs in 2013. The injured chef is now seeking medical expenses, lost wages, disability and damages for lost earning capacity. The suit cites to the Jones Act, naming Hercules Offshore Services LLC for failing to install nonslip mats and failure to fix a dangerous condition. The chef also alleges that the company failed to provide him with a safe environment in which to work.
In order to file a successful claim based on the Jones Act, the seaman will have to establish that their injuries occurred on a navigable vessel and that they were a seaman at the time of the incident. The courts will determine what constitutes a navigable vessel and a seaman. Generally, any vessel that can be used for water transportation will be considered a vessel. Any person who contributes to the function of the vessel will be considered a seaman under law.
The injured worker will also have to establish that the owner of the vessel was negligent and that the negligence caused the injury. Once these elements have been established, the seaman will likely be able to recover damages to cover their lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Source: The Louisiana Record, “Chef alleges he was injured on staircase on Hercules Offshore Services vessel,” Michael Abella, Nov. 29, 2016