It is being widely reported that a crewmember suffered serious personal injury after he fell into the water while attempting to step from the aft of a crew boat to a dock, barge or other vessel engaged in dredging operations in Port Canaveral. Authorities are presently withholding the man's name. The dredging crew is deepening and widening the entrance to the port so that larger ships can come in.
The man fell from a barge PAULA LEE Tuesday night (November 10th) and was injured by a pair of spinning propellers that caused him to lose one leg below the knee as well as the foot on the other leg. News reports seem to indicate the Captain of the crew boat left the engines in gear in an effort to keep the stern of the crew boat up against the dock, barge or other vessel during crew changes that take place 24 hours a day. It is uncertain at this time if dock lines and buoys were utilized to secure the crew boat thus, eliminating the need to keep the crew boat's engine's in gear while crew stepped across at the stern of the boat. It's also unclear why the crew changes were not conducted from either side of the crew boat after securing the boat alongside. Paramedics credit the quick action by other crewmembers with stopping the bleeding and saving the man's life.
It's also reported the Coast Guard is stating the fall was accidental which does not, however, address whether there was Jones Act negligence and/or unseaworthiness on the part of the owners and/or operators of the vessels participating with the dredging operations and crew change.
The Florida Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime Lawyers at Brais Brais & Rusak ("BBR") are often called upon to assist crewmembers suffering these types of horrific injuries. Crewmembers with these types of debilitating injuries suddenly find themselves without a career wondering how they will pay for future medical care and support themselves and loved ones for the remainder of their lives. While the crewmember and his or her family are coping with the recent tragedy, vessel owners and operators have already notified their "Risk Management" or "Loss Prevention" departments and contacted their underwriters (aka marine insurance company). The employee's days of dealing with the employer's "Human Resources Department" are over. The crewmember's injuries represent a potential lawsuit and liability (aka "plaintiff's verdict") against the Company.
Depending upon the vessels involved, in this case to include the dredging vessels, barges, crew boat, and the severity of the injuries the vessel owners may quickly file a Limitation of Liability ("LOL") lawsuit. Owners have six (6) months within which to file an LOL but more often file shortly after a marine disaster while the injured crewmember and/or his or her family is coping psychologically emotionally with the recent tragedy. Case in point the LOL recently filed by the owners of the EL FARO. This is a preemptive lawsuit filed by the vessel owner in Federal Court which greatly shortens the ordinary three (3) years within which to file suit to just a few months or less. In the LOL the vessel owner asks a Federal Judge to either "exonerate" or "limit" the owner's liability. At complete odds with this archaic law the vessel owner is able to seek full recovery for its damages (i.e., the loss of a vessel say in the case it sinks or is greatly damaged).
The attorneys at BBR are fully versed with and have, in fact, lectured on the subject of LOL proceedings. See, The Shipowner's Limitation Of Liability Act: Pitfalls For The Unwary. Another aspect of the crewmember's injuries in this case will likely involve the "Flotilla Doctrine", an effort perhaps by the vessel owner to limit its liability to the value of the crew boat versus the more valuable vessels involved with the dredging operations. It is imperative that crewmembers involved in these types of claims seek out the expertise of a well-qualified maritime attorney. Pursuant to the Florida Bar only a Board Certified Maritime Attorney can represent himself as an "expert" in the filed of Admiralty and Maritime Law.
The mission statement of BBR is "Protecting Rights" and "Restoring Lives". With 80 years of combined trial experience, BBR has the experience to protect client's rights, the compassion to serve client's needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation clients deserve. The firm's partners possess an impressive list of Credentials and Qualifications which are available for your review on the firm's website. The attorneys at BBR understand your future and the future of dependents in significant part depends upon the financial outcome of your case. In fact, in this year along the attorneys at BBR have recovered more than $8.452 million in claims involving crew members and more than $38.084 million between 2011 and 2015. See additional Results.
The firm's main office is in Miami, Florida, but we routinely represent clients throughout the State of Florida. In this regard, the firm has previously handled files involving Cape Canaveral crewmembers, involving both injury and death claims. Additionally, the firm maintains satellite offices in Boston, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas on an appointment basis.
We certainly wish this crewmember the very best and a speedy recovery. We represent accident victims and families left behind after wrongful death on a contingency fee basis. You owe no attorney fees unless we recover compensation for you. To reach our AV-rated law firm and Board Certified Maritime attorneys you may call 1-800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype "BraisLaw" worldwide or complete the Contact Us form on this website to receive a free evaluation of your case, or if you need legal advice. You may also visit us at www.braislaw.com. Witnesses to this crewmember's injuries are urged to contact the firm.
Photo Credit: Shipspotting.com