Louisiana has a huge maritime industry. With many miles of coast along the Gulf of Mexico, plus the Mississippi River delta, and other canals and waterways, the state is a big player in commercial fishing, shipping, and offshore gas and oil. The state has numerous small ports and a few larger ones like the Port of Fourchon, the Port of New Orleans, and the largest, the Port of South Louisiana The Port of Fourchon largely serves the offshore drilling industry, while he Port of New Orleans, the sixth largest in the country, serves cargo shipping and cruise lines. The Port of South Louisiana is the largest in the western hemisphere by tonnage of cargo.
The maritime industry in the state is thriving, but it’s also a dangerous business. From the ships and barges to the port areas and the offshore oil rigs and platforms, these are hazardous workplaces. If you work in the industry, in any of these environments, you may need a Louisiana maritime lawyer. A lawyer specializing in maritime law can help you get compensation after an on-the-job accident. Getting back to work and back to normal life with an injury is tough and expensive. Let a good lawyer help you get the money you need to get back on your feet.
The Ports of Louisiana
The Gulf of Mexico is a huge oil-producing region. A significant portion of the country’s petroleum products come from the bottom of the Gulf and it is dotted with oil rigs and platforms. Port Fourchon serves over 90 percent of this industry and there are more than 600 platforms right around the port. Over 1.5 million barrels of oil go through the port’s pipelines each day and more than 250 companies use the services of the port. In addition to oil shipping and transportation, Fourchon has an airport that ferries workers to and from oil platforms.
The Port of New Orleans is the second largest port in the state and the sixth largest in the country. It is a multi-purpose port with connections to interstates and six railroads for transporting cargo. This huge port has more than 20 million square feet devoted to handling cargo and three million square feet for storage. There are six cargo terminals, several container cranes, and plenty of berth space for big cargo ships. The port also has industrial real estate space and cruise terminals serving more than one million passengers every year.
In La Place, Louisiana is the state’s largest port, the Port of South Louisiana. It covers 54 miles of coastline and is the largest port by tonnage in the western hemisphere. This is a major center for importing and exporting and handles the majority of grain grown in the entire Midwest region. Major imports here include fruits and vegetables, coffee, rubber, and steel.
Louisiana Maritime Accidents
With such a big maritime industry, the state has seen its share of accidents on ships, on platforms, and in the ports. From collisions between ships and with bridges, to onboard fires, platform accidents, and incidents with cranes and cargo in ports, the accidents that occur in the maritime industry can range from mild to severe. Many workers are hurt each year in accidents that could have been prevented. It is an inherently risky and dangerous type of work, but precautions can save lives by preventing accidents. Accidents not only injure workers, but they can be deadly too. Workplace fatalities are not unheard of in fishing, oil drilling, and in port areas.
All maritime jobs are dangerous, but the one that leads to the most accident, injuries, and fatalities, is commercial fishing. Fishermen face bad weather, rough water conditions, dangerous fishing equipment, and long, grueling work hours. In one example of how fishing can go wrong, a vessel capsized in September of 2014 off the coast of Louisiana. The fishermen were trawling in the gulf when the ship turned over and two crew members were lost and presumed dead. A third was injured. The incident was blamed on the inappropriate use of trawling equipment, which made the vessel unsteady while maneuvering in the water.
Fires are also major hazards in all areas of the maritime industry. On ships, however, they can be especially dangerous. In 2006 barges being towed through an oil field caught fire when an accident caused a gas pipeline to burst. The accident occurred because workers had failed to adequately secure an aft spud on the barge. When it fell, it broke the pipeline and the resulting gas caused the fire. Five workers died in the fire, while a few managed to escape the burning barges with only injuries.
Collisions are all too common in crowded waterways of canals, rivers, ports, and in the Gulf. In 2014 a barge being pushed by a towing vessel collided with the Florida Avenue Bridge in New Orleans, causing injuries to the captain that turned out to be fatal. Additionally, the crash caused millions of dollars in damage to the ship and bridge. The fault was found to lie with the captain who had failed to check that his ship would be able to pass under the bridge or that the bridge had been lifted high enough to allow them to pass under it.
The port areas can be just as dangerous as platforms and vessels on the water. This was illustrated by a tragedy in 2013 when a cruise ship worker died at the Port of New Orleans. The accident occurred when the worker was on a cherry picker doing maintenance on the outside of a cruise ship. He became wedged between it and a lifeboat platform and was crushed to death. It was a terrible accident that could have been prevented with better training and better communication between workers.
Legal Rights and Resources
When workers in the maritime industry in Louisiana are hurt on the job, they have rights under federal law. Those rights include being able to seek compensation from employers to cover medical costs, lost wages, lost future capacity to earn, and other things like money for pain and suffering. Surviving dependents also have these rights. If you are a seaman, an offshore worker, or a longshoreman working in a Louisiana port, there is a law that covers you and gives you an avenue for seeking compensation after an accident.
For seamen, the Jones Act provides a way to sue employers if negligence can be shown to have played some role in an accident. For longshoremen, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act provides funding for injured workers, no matter where blame is placed or if negligence was involved. Offshore workers face unique dangers on the job and are covered by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. They too can seek compensation after workplace injuries.
If you find yourself injured and unable to go back to work, you are facing some serious expenses. These laws can help you get the money to cover them if your employer is refusing to pay you enough or to pay you at all. Unfortunately, navigating maritime laws can be confusing if you have never done it before, which is why having an expert on your side is a good idea. A Louisiana maritime lawyer can be your best friend in these tough situations.
A maritime lawyer has studied maritime law and knows all the ins and outs. They know how to file claims, start lawsuits, and can be your representative in arbitration or in a court trial. When you are injured or sick and facing a legal battle just to get the money you are owed, let a Louisiana maritime lawyer help. Instead of trying to go it alone and risk losing out on compensation, your trusted lawyer can ensure that you get every chance to get the money you need to get your life back on track.