Articles Posted in Maritime Personal Injury

On Sunday, August 9, 2021, a party barge reportedly operated by a Lafayette resident hit a group of children on an inner tube on False River. The children ranged in age from 8 to 14. The boater(s) reportedly fled the scene of the accident. Investigators say that the driver of the boat went home and refused to take a sobriety test.  The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is investigating the incident.  Although there were no fatalities, one of the children was airlifted to a Baton Rouge hospital and may face prolonged recovery time.

Broussard & David reminds boaters and spotters to be vigilant when operating a vessel and/or pulling a tube. Further, please take boater education safety courses offered for free at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries website: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/boater-education.

The attorneys at Broussard & David have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle boating and tubing incident cases and will fight to obtain fair compensation for the injuries of yourself or your loved ones. If you, or a loved one has suffered harm because of the fault of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard & David to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

Late last month, a tank owned by Texas Petroleum exploded on Catfish Lake near Golden Meadow. The United States Coast Guard responded to a call by sending a helicopter and a locally stationed unit. Local Firefighters and state hazardous materials units also responded, successfully dousing the fire.

During an evacuation, one person was injured, suffering burns to his body. The person was transported to Terrebonne General Hospital where he was stabilized. Authorities established a three quarters of a mile perimeter around the explosion, but put out the fire before any residents were threatened.

The tank held crude oil before the oil was to be sent into the pipeline system. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

MORGAN CITY – As many as eight people were hurt in an explosion reported at a natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities said the incident was reported sometime before 3 o’clock after a well ignited. The victims reportedly suffered varying burn injuries in the explosion.

The patients were taken by boat to a dock in Morgan City. Helicopters were expected to land there to move those victims to a hospital.

Six of the nineteen people onboard a 129-foot commercial lift boat that capsized off the Louisiana coast Tuesday afternoon have been rescued so far. The vessel, the Seacor Power, had left port less than two hours before the accident and encountered rugged seas on its way out to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard was on the scene within 30 minutes and several other good Samaritan vessels have been assisting the Coast Guard in the search and rescue operation.

Broussard & David offers their thoughts and prayers to family and friends of the missing crewmembers in this difficult time and hope that all crewmembers are safely rescued.

An average of 16,500 car accidents occur daily across the United States. In the blink of an eye, a rear-end car accident can completely turn one’s life upside down by causing life-altering injuries. Such an event can leave one lost as to what to do next, scared as to the daunting recovery process that lies ahead, and confused as to where to even begin. Some insight into the expected process of legal settlements may aid you or a loved one in making important decisions following a tragic accident.

In Louisiana, a car accident resulting in an injury, death, or property damage resulting in over $500 requires the parties by law to contact the local police department. Following the accident, an injured party should seek legal assistance. This will significantly offset the post-accident burdens of both filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company and gathering  supporting evidence like medical examinations, photos, and witness testimony.

Further, an attorney can file suit against a negligent party, thereby holding that party liable for their actions. The lawsuit must be brought within 1 year of the date of the accident or else the claim is forever lost. Once the legal process begins, parties will work tirelessly to reach what is known as a settlement. A settlement resolves the dispute by dropping the claim before reaching trial in return for a monetary compensation. Settlement processes can last anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the severity of the injuries and the accident. In the settlement process, the injured party seeks recompense for physical pain and suffering, repair or replacement of their car, medical expenses, mental anguish from the accident, lost wages, as well as other forms of damages.

ST. MARTINVILLE, LA – November 11, 2019

A Jones Act seaman was injured on January 29, 2016, when his coworker was piloting an Oceaneering survey vessel at high speeds while on his phone and slammed into a piling in the Empire Canal (Plaquemines Parish). The plaintiff was on the back deck of the vessel, an admittedly common practice at Oceaneering at the time, and he was slammed into the cab upon impact injuring his back.

Oceaneering contested liability arguing that the plaintiff should not have been on the back deck of the vessel while traveling at high speeds. Plaintiff successfully recovered under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness claims based on evidence that the pilot was on the phone, the crew was improperly trained, and that Oceaneering failed to have rules regarding phone use while operating vessels, having a lookout, or passengers working on the back deck while moving.

A Louisiana man is suing a Texas fishing captain following injuries suffered while working on the captain’s vessel. David Robling, the plaintiff, was working aboard the fishing boat, Red Bull, on February 20, 2019, when he suffered injuries resulting from the negligence and unseaworthiness of the ship-captain, Delbert E. Bull, Jr. The suit, filed in the Galveston County District Court, is in accord with the Jones Act, specifically 46 U.S.C. §30104, which protects seamen injured in the course of their employment and which affords them the right to legal action and a trial by jury against the ship’s owner.

According to Robling’s complaint, the ship’s captain, Bull, turned on the boat’s winch without warning the crew. As a result, the boards, nets, and tickler chains were thrown overboard. Without time to react, Robling found himself in the path of the chains, which wrapped around his chest and violently threw him to the deck of the boat. Unable to free himself, Robling was then struck by other falling equipment leading to injuries and mental anguish.

This is not Robling’s first legal encounter with Galveston’s maritime industry. In 2015, Robling filed a complaint against a shipping company after he tripped on equipment that the previous crew had left behind. The fall left Robling with serious and disabling injuries that could have been avoided had the ship’s owner or crew properly maintained the ship and its equipment or warned him of the existing hazards on deck.

A wrongful death suit has been filed against Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD following a zipline incident wherein a 27-year-old woman was seriously injured and her newlywed husband was killed. The incident occurred as a part of a shore excursion in Roatan during the journey of the Allure of the Seas, though the excursion was operated by an independent contractor, Extreme Caribe Zip Line Tour.

The 24-year-old husband, Igal Tyszman, did not survive his injuries after his wife, Shir Frenkel, became stuck halfway down the zipline, and he had already begun his descent. Tyszman had no way of stopping or slowing down, and he collided with Frenkel in midair. Records indicate that the zip line operators could not communicate to each other when one person had completed their ride and, thus, it was safe for the next person to begin, communication that could have prevented the tragedy.

The suit alleges that Extreme Caribe has a history of zip line incidents, citing more than ten, one of which led to a woman having both of her legs severed, and it asserts that Royal Caribbean was well aware of this and other incidents involving the excursion operator but failed to make those issues known to the participants. Additionally, the cruise ship misled the family to believe that the excursion was operated by the cruise company, itself. The plaintiff’s attorneys state, “These newlyweds were expecting a fun excursion with the highest safety standards, and that is obviously not what they received; and the consequences in this case proved tragic.” In addition to Frenkel’s physical injuries—multiple rib fractures, splenic fracture, multiple transverse fractures, and more—she also will have to undergo treatment for the emotional and mental trauma resulting from her husband’s death.

A maritime allision between a boat and the Sunshine Bridge in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, raises questions as to who may receive compensation under maritime law. The crane barge, operated by an employee of Marquette Transportation Company, caused more than $5 million dollars of damage to the bridge. As a result, the bridge will be closed for nearly four months, and the frequent traversers of it are forced to extend each commute by at least an hour. The inconvenience thrust upon these local residents is tangible, but do they have a legal argument for compensation? Unfortunately, and perhaps unjustly, current maritime case law may not in their favor.

In the case Taira Lynn Marine Limited Number 5 v. Jays Seafood, Inc. et al., the primary issue is whether claimants who suffered no physical damage to a proprietary interest can recover for their economic losses as a result of a maritime allision. The case revolves around a 2001 incident in which a barge allided with a bridge, releasing toxic gasses into the air. As a result, the Louisiana State Police ordered a mandatory evacuation of all businesses and residence within a certain radius of the bridge, including fourteen businesses who made commercial use of the bridge and subsequently suffered economic loss. Though these businesses filed claims for compensation, the court ruled that “there can be no recovery for economic loss absent physical injury to a proprietary interest.”

In the case involving the Sunshine Bridge and Marquette Transportation, it is clear that the State of Louisiana has a right to compensation as the owner of the physically damaged bridge. It seems, however, that according to Taira Lynn that the local residents do not have such a right, though, according to sources, what was once a 90-second drive across the Mississippi River has turned into a 90-minute, 50-mile detour, costing drivers both time and money. In fact, local schools have had to adjust their start times to accommodate students who are simply unable to arrive at such an early hour due to the bridge’s closure. These affected citizens certainly do not have any ownership of the bridge, but in the interest of justice, this should not disqualify them from being compensated for their economic loss.

Following a maritime allision involving a crane barge and a bridge in southern Louisiana, Marquette Transportation Company could be facing a class-action lawsuit with punitive damages due to the company’s alleged gross negligence manifested in the frequent and consistent reckless behavior of its employees. Repairs to the bridge are underway, and the costs of said repairs could amount to more than $5 million, a price currently charged to the State of Louisiana. The scope the lawsuit involves compensation for the bridge repairs as well as compensation for the inconveniences caused to the 25,000 local residents who use the bridge on a frequent basis. If the egregious conduct is proven, punitive damages should be awarded to deter those unsafe practices – because running into 32 bridges and merely fixing the damage caused has not been enough deterrence for Marquette Transportation Company to change its ways. The question becomes, “How much in punitive damages is appropriate or necessary in a maritime case like this?”

To answer this question, one can look to two relevant cases. The first is Exxon v. Baker from the year 2008, and the second is Warren v. Shelter Insurance from the year 2017. Following a defense appeal of a punitive-damages award of $5 billion, the Court reduced the award to $2.5 billion so as to be more proportionate to the concurrent compensatory damages awarded. Citing civil code, Exxon states, “An award for punitive damages should be (1) in an amount that will deter the defendant and others from similar conduct, (2) proportionate to the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct and the defendant’s ability to pay, but (3) not designed to bankrupt or financially destroy a defendant.” The case admits that the notion punitive damages often falls under criticism due to their sheer unpredictability throughout recent history; however, it seeks to find a fair “upper limit” by way of proportions, and it ultimately concludes that a 3:1 ratio of punitive to compensatory damages is an appropriate maximum, though a median ratio of 1:1 ought to be pursued.

Fitting the logic of Exxon, the Warren case issued a punitive-damage award of 2:1 following the violent death of an individual involved in a boating incident. Warren uses the same criteria enumerated in Exxon for determining the amount of punitive damages; however, unique to the case, it adjusts the amount of compensatory damages to form a proper proportion between the two. Repeating the language of Exxon, Warren states that “punitives are aimed not at compensation but principally at retribution and deterring harmful conduct.” An excessive penalty violates the defendant’s due process rights, but a minimal penalty could be ineffective. In this case, the defendant’s penalty was reduced from $23 million to $4.25 but the compensatory damages were raised from $125,000 to $2,125,000, creating the 2:1 ratio.