Lamothe Maritime Accident Attorney

Experienced Maritime and Offshore Injury Attorneys

At Lamothe Law Firm, we know maritime and offshore accident law. We have represented numerous claimants from the New Orleans and Gulf coast area who were injured while working offshore. And we helped them get the compensation that they deserve. Frank Lamothe has over 40 years experience in representing maritime and offshore workers. He knows every aspect of maritime law. He has lectured to national audiences of lawyers on maritime and offshore law. As a maritime personal injury trial lawyer, Richard Martin has had substantial success in “brown and blue water” maritime cases. His understanding of how to try and win these cases is enhanced by his personal work experience as a deckhand on towboats and offshore boats, a roustabout worker on rigs and platforms, and as a U.S. Navy bridge watchstanding officer on an aircraft carrier. His maritime litigation experience includes claims under the Jones Act, Section 905b of the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, the Extension of Admiralty Jurisdiction Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, the Public Vessels Act, and the Suits in Admiralty Act. He has also litigated claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Alien Tort Claims Act. Richard currently writes articles for lawyers for publications in the area of maritime and offshore law.

Types of Offshore Equipment & Structures

Fixed Platforms

A “fixed” platform is a permanent, immobile structure built on legs resting on the sea floor. Typically, they are constructed at locations where a drilling vessel has already located oil or gas resources. Workers on fixed platforms are generally covered by the provisions of LHWCA if their injuries or death were caused by actions of the worker’s employer or co-employees. Negligence claims against non-vessel third parties are brought under Louisiana law (or the law of the adjacent state).

Fixed Platform

Jackup Rigs

Despite looking a lot like a fixed platform, a “jack-up” drilling rig is actually a vessel. It typically has long legs on the corners of a barge type hull that can lower or raise the rig in and out of the water. A “jack-up” is a vessel even when it is working with its legs on the bottom. Workers aboard a jack-up-rig are generally Jones Act seamen if they are part of its regular crew. “Jack-up” rigs are most frequently used in the shallow coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

jack-up drilling rig

Semi-Submersibles

Although it looks like a fixed platform, semi-submersible drilling rigs are vessels. They feature drilling decks raised on columns above submarine hulls. They can be towed into position by a tugboat and anchored or moved by and kept in position by their own azimuth thrusters with dynamic positioning. It is consider a vessel and its’ regular crew members are Jones Act seamen.

semi-submersible

Crew Boats

Crew boats are the fast “maritime taxis” of the offshore oil industry. They are principally used to transfer personnel from vessels and platforms which are not so remotely located in the Gulf of Mexico as to require long range helicopter service. The crews are Jones Act seamen.

crew boat

Offshore Supply Vessels

Offshore supply vessels, or “OSVs,” are the work horses of the Gulf of Mexico. They transport tools, food, drilling supplies, and all manner of items to the oilfields and the drilling vessels and platforms in them. They are often used as “stand-by” vessels in case of emergencies. Cranes typically move supplies to and from these vessels. The crews of offshore supply vessels are Jones Act seamen.

supply boat

Drill Ships

A drill ship is a vessel which has a conventional hull above which a drilling derrick is mounted. Because it is a ship, it does not need tugboats to keep it in place during operations. This specially equipped vessel can drill in very deep waters. It is a vessel for Jones Act purposes. Image credit: Nunatsiaq Online

drill ship in ocean

We represent workers who are injured in many different circumstances working on these structures.

Roustabouts

Roustabouts do most of the heavy work on a rig from assisting in cargo transfers to clean up work. They work under the direction of the crane operator. They make things happen, physically do all of the work and are also the most likely to suffer an injury of anyone on the rigs. We frequently represent roustabouts who have been injured through no fault of their own.

Floor Hands

A floorhand is typically the newest member on the service rig team. Sometimes called roughnecks, there are usually one or two floorhands on each service rig team. Roughneck or floor hands are workers who work on the drill floor of a drilling rig handling specialized drilling equipment for drilling and pressure controls. They work with dangerous equipment which can easily lead to an injury.

Floorhands assist the other members of the service rig crew, performing manual labor and odd jobs as assigned. Floorhands often fill in, lending a hand with a variety of jobs. They are fequently injured on the drill floor while tripping in or out.

Service Company Hands

Offshore service hands perform many different specialty jobs associated with the offshore drilling industry. They can be injured when they come aboard a rig to perform their work. They will usually not be Jones Act seaman if they are not regularly assigned to one vessel for an extended time. Service hands will have maritime negligence claims against any company causing their injury.

Drillers

The Driller is in charge of the drill crew and ensures the safe completion of all operations on the drill floor including daily preventative maintenance of all equipment. The Driller is responsible for drilling the well within the parameters specified by the operator and maintaining control of the well at all times. The driller reports to the toolpusher who is the senior member of the drill crew. Drillers are sometimes injured while performing their duties on the rig floor.

Derrick Man

The Derrick Man is a senior member of the drill crew and reports to the Driller. Responsibilities include pipe handling during tripping operations and maintaining and repairing mud pumps and associated equipment while drilling. The Derrick Man monitors the properties of drilling fluid being pumped down hole and treats the fluid on a regular basis to maintain those properties. Occasionally, the Derrick Man is required to be high in the derrick where he can be subject to injury.

Captains and Pilots

Captains or pilots are responsible for the safe and efficient operation and performance of this crew and vessel. The captain/pilot must also strive to see that company policy rules and regulations are followed. He should be conducting monthly drills and safety meeting in accordance with policies and procedures. Offshore, he is responsible for the safety transfer of cargo and personnel from and onto the right. He should insure that work is completed in accordance with company safety policies and practices on how to do jobs properly and monitor performance. He should enforce all company policies and vessel specific guidelines on board all vessels. Many times, crew members are injured because the captain allows an unsafe work practice or does not adequately train crew members.

Deckhands

Deckhands on offshore vessels such as crew boat or supple boats assist in the loading and discharging of equipment onto and from various offshore structures. They are responsible for tying off vessels when they are in port. They also perform a variety of tasks which include but are not limited to standard housekeeping duties, painting, chipping, transferring rigging, vessel maintenance, fuel transfers and cooking. These duties are performed in all types of weather, day and night, while the vessel is underway. Deckhands must be capable of lifting or moving objects that are heavy and awkward. Deckhands work under the supervision of the vessel Captain and live, eat and work aboard the vessel.

“Without any reservations, I recommend Lamothe Law Firm to any attorney who needs associate counsel in maritime cases.”

- Attorney Norman R. Gordon

“We are pleased as is our client. It occurred to me this morning that our relationship with you and your firm extends beyond the 30 year mark… I wanted to say thank you and to assure you that we would continue to associate you in every instance of maritime employment in which we are fortunate enough to be involved.”

- Attorney David E. Crawley, III

Contact us today to speak with an experienced and qualified maritime attorney who can evaluate your claim and determine the best way to protect your interests and get you the compensation you deserve.

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What Are My Rights?

The Jones Act is a law enacted by Congress that provides protection to persons (“seamen”) who are members of the crew of a vessel. The Jones Act applies to inland river workers as well as offshore workers who work on a jack-up rig, semi-submersible, barge, drill ship, tug / towboat, crew boat , drill ship, dredge, floating crane, tanker, cargo ship, fishing vessel, chemical ship, research vessel, construction barge, lay barge, motorized platform, diving vessel, cruise ship, recreational boat or other floating / movable structures.

The Jones Act governs the liability of vessel operators and marine employers for the work-related injury or death of an employee. It is a federal cause of action, meaning that the United States Congress intended for all seaman’s injuries throughout the nation to be guided by the same liability standards of the Jones Act.

Although the Jones Act protects seamen, it is not the same as workers’ compensation. It does not require payment regardless of fault. In order for a crew member to recover under the Jones Act, he must prove some negligence or fault on the part of the vessel’s owners, operators, officers, and/or fellow employees or by reason of any defect in the vessel, its gear, tackle or equipment.

The Jones Act provides an injured seaman a remedy against his or her employers for injuries arising from negligent acts of the employer or co-workers during the course of employment on a ship or vessel. This means that the employer must do something unreasonable or fail to perform a reasonable act that would have prevented injury in order for the seaman to win his claim. An injured worker’s maritime claim under the Jones Act can also raise claims against a vessel’s owner that a dangerous condition existed on the vessel that made the vessel unseaworthy.

If you are a crewman on a boat or vessel and were injured while working, you will be entitled to sue your employer for injuries caused by your employer’s negligence under the Jones Act. Offshore drilling rigs, drill ships, barges and other motorized structures which are moveable and which float from hole to hole (semis and jack-ups) are considered vessels under the Jones Act.

If you are a member of the crew of such a vessel and were injured while in the furtherance of your employment, then your employer will also be responsible for paying your medical bills (called cure) and paying you a small daily allowance (called maintenance) during the time you are injured. In addition, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer if your employer was negligent or if there was something wrong with the vessel which made it unfit for its intended purpose.

In a Jones Act lawsuit, you may seek to recover past and future economic loss, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of capacity to enjoy life, loss of the ability to perform household services and take care of yourself, and other damages recoverable under the maritime law.

The General Maritime doctrine of unseaworthiness imposes an absolute and non-delegable duty by shipowners to provide a vessel that is reasonably fit for its intended purposes or for its intended voyage. You do not need to prove negligence to prevail on an unseaworthiness claim. You only need to show the vessel or its equipment has some deficiency which caused your injury. This type of claim requires you to show the vessel has a defective condition or unsafe equipment. This could involve poorly maintained equipment, an inadequate crew, lack of safety, lack of handrails, lack of proper safety procedures or training.

An unseaworthiness claim can be brought with a Jones Act claim which provides a statutory right to jury trial, both claims may be tried to a jury. A claim based on unseaworthiness must be brought within three years.

The unseaworthiness remedy does not extend to passengers or persons transiently aboard a vessel.

General Maritime Law negligence claims are available for injury or death cases occurring in navigable waters of the United States, including state territorial waters. These claims are for persons who are not Jones Act seamen or entitled to remedies under the LHWCA. They are governed by a three-year statute of limitations.

These claims typically would be brought by passengers on vessels where they are injured due to the crew’s negligence. If an offshore worker is injured on a crew boat ride, he could bring such a claim.

These claims can be brought in either federal or state courts.

Under the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (“LHWCA”), 33 U.S.C. § 905(b), an injured offshore worker may bring a claim of action for personal injury or death against a vessel owner or other third party that is not his employer or the negligence of the vessel owner or third party. These claims must be brought with three years.

These claims can be brought by workers on vessels who are not Jones Act seamen. Typically service company hands who are only on drilling vessels such as a jack-up rig for a brief period of time will bring these claims.

A seaman who suffers illness or injury while “in the service of the ship” is entitled to recover maintenance and cure from his employer. It is awarded to compensate the seaman for medical and living expenses until the seaman reaches what the law deems “maximum medical cure.”

Maintenance is a daily amount the employer must pay the injured seaman until he recovers. Cure is a term for the medical care of the seaman that the employer must provide. To recover maintenance and cure you do not need to show your employer was at fault. It is a no fault remedy arising from the seaman’s contract with his employer. A claim for maintenance and cure must be brought within three years.

The Outer Continental Shelf Act expressly provides that fixed platform workers whose injuries arise out of operations on the Outer Continental Shelf are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under the LHWCA from their direct employers.

They are also entitled to bring third party negligence claims again companies other than their own employers for injuries. The law of the closest state applies to these claims. Therefore, if you are injured off the coast of Louisiana – Louisiana law will apply.

The LHWCA allows qualified injured workers to receive federal workers’ compensation type benefits for their injuries without regard to fault. The compensation is more limited than that allowed under the Jones Act.

This means if you are injured on a fixed platform in the Gulf of Mexico, you have a right to Longshore compensation benefits regardless of fault.

Other workers covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act include longshore workers or other persons in longshore operations, and other harbor workers including ship repairers, shipbuilders, harbor construction workers and shipbreakers. Seamen covered under the Jones Act and other workers covered by their state workers’ compensation law are not covered under the LHWCA.

The payments for disabled employees are paid at a rate of 66 2/3% of the employee’s average weekly wage for as long as the disability from the injury continues. This rate is subject to weekly maximum and minimum rates. Compensation is also available for certain permanent impairments. Benefits paid to a surviving spouse are paid at 50% of the deceased’s average weekly wage, and an additional 16 2/3% is payable to any surviving children.

Time is of the essence when initiating a claim for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. An injured employee must notify his or her employer of the injury or illness within 30 days of its occurrence, and a formal claim for benefits must be filed within one year of the date of the harm the worker has suffered.

These claims are handled through the United States Department Labor and are considered federal compensation claims.

Why Hire Us

Experience

We have over 100 years of combined experience in helping people who have been seriously harmed by the fault of others. We believe in winning. You only get justice when we are successful. We believe in our ability to win and we believe in our clients. We are fully committed to achieving justice for our clients. As seasoned trial attorneys, we are frequently brought on board by other law firms who appreciate our expertise and trial abilities .

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Track Record

We have recovered over 100 million dollars for our clients. We have won numerous verdicts at trial for victims and negotiated life changing significant settlements for our clients. We receive frequent referrals from other attorneys to lead them to victory in significant cases. We are proven and seasoned trial lawyers. We are known as a “go to” law firm.

Reputation

We have a national reputation for excellence. Frank Lamothe is listed in Best Lawyers in America; Louisiana Super Lawyers; The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100; and the Nation’s Top 1% by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. He was selected as a New Orleans City Business Leadership in Law winner – for 2014 and 2015.

Our firm was named a Best Law Firm by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. We were also selected as the Admiralty Law Firm of the Year in Louisiana by Global Law Experts.

Commonly Asked Questions

The law provides people the opportunity to obtain compensation if someone else has harmed them. For example, if you have been physically injured as a result of a careless or negligent act, then you may have the right to claim compensation for your injuries. If your company or business has been harmed by the actions of another, you may have the right to seek damages. If you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, the law may provide you the ability to obtain damages.

Every case is different and whether you have a valid claim depends upon the specific facts of your particular case as well as the applicable law. This is why it is important to consult with the experienced attorneys at Lamothe Law Firm to discuss any potential claim you may have.

Some of the key factors in establishing a successful claim include:

1. Is Anyone at Fault

An individual or organization can be held legally responsible for your injuries, damages or losses.

2. Are there sufficient facts to prove that an individual, or organization, was in whole or in part at fault for your injuries, losses or damages?

In many states including Louisiana, it is still possible to claim compensation even if your own actions may have been partly to blame for your injuries, losses or damages. Sometimes the law does not allow a claim to be brought against certain people who have immunity. Knowing which laws are or may be applicable (or inapplicable) to impose liability is critical to evaluating whether a case exists.

3. The Nature and Extent of Damages

Even if you think someone has acted improperly, the injuries, losses and damages resulting from those negligent actions may be minimal. The cost to bring a lawsuit may be more than what you could recover in damages. It is important to do an initial damage assessment to make sure there are sufficient damages to bring a case.

4. Time Limits – Statute of Limitations

Every potential claim has a statute of limitations or a “window of time” in which you are allowed to file a lawsuit. These time limits vary widely depending on the state in which you live and on the nature of your case, i.e., does your claim involve an auto accident injury, medical malpractice or product liability claim. Does it involve a breach of contract? Does it involve wrongful employment termination? There are also circumstances where you must provide early notice of your claim, such as when a governmental entity is involved. Knowing the time limitations applicable to your claim is critical because if a claim is not brought before the statute of limitations has run or proper notice has not been provided, your claim is likely to be barred forever. If you believe you have a claim you should immediately contact the experienced attorneys at Lamothe Law Firm to make sure the time to bring your claim does not pass.

5. Will the potential damages outweigh the costs of the lawsuit?

Even if you have sustained injuries, damages or losses, and even if it is apparent that someone else caused those injuries, damages or losses, bringing a lawsuit may not always be in your best interest. Lawsuits take significant time and energy and can take their toll on the parties involved – financially, emotionally and sometimes physically. We put the interests of our clients first and if we believe the potential cost of going to trial or bringing a lawsuit are not in your best interests, we will let you know so that you can make an informed decision about your case.

There are many, many factors that go into evaluating what any particular claim is worth. Each case is different and it is impossible to provide a specific dollar figure for any claim. No attorney can ever guarantee you will obtain compensation for your case or that you will receive any certain amount of compensation. That being said, the experienced attorneys at Lamothe Law Firm have vast experience in evaluating potential claims and can provide you with an honest evaluation of your claim and provide you with an assessment of what your claim may be worth.

The value of your case depends on a number of different factors, including but not limited to:

1. The specific facts of your case
2. The injuries, damages or losses you sustained
3. The state where your injuries, damages or losses were sustained
4. The experience, skill and commitment of your attorney

If it can be established that an individual or organization was legally at fault for your injuries, damages or losses, then you may be entitled to claim compensation or money damages or other forms of relief.

Depending on the state in which you live, you may be able to recover economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are relatively easy to calculate and cover things such as property damages, lost income, lost profits, lost value, out-of-pocket expenses and medical bills. They can also cover future lost earnings expenses and medical bills. In contract cases, economic damages may be spelled out in the contract. For employment cases, economic damages can include back pay, front pay and the value of lost fringe benefits.

Non-economic damages can be awarded in many cases, and can include payments for emotional distress and anguish. They can include payments for loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering, in the case of personal injury.

The experienced attorneys at Lamothe Law Firm have handled thousands of cases over the years and know how to value the cases they handle. In each case, they do everything in their power to get their clients the maximum allowed under law for their injuries. Full justice is full compensation.

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