Recently in Seaman Injury Settlements Category

May 4, 2016

Florida Panhandle Diving Accident Leaves One Commercial Diver Dead

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A Florida panhandle diving accident leaves one commercial diver dead and one injured in an accident last month near Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Florida. The accident occurred on April 7th, 2016, but very few details of the accident have emerged. Media report that four divers were operating out of an inflatable zodiac boat when the accident occurred around 2:00 in the afternoon causing the death of one diver and another diver to be hospitalized with injuries. The Coast Guard is investigating.

Commercial diving is a high risk career which involves all of the risks of recreational diving such as drowning, hypothermia, decompression sickness, air embolism, and equipment failure but commercial divers often face additional hazards of underwater construction zones which include power tools, welding, cutting and demolition. When accidents happen it can leave the diver with disabling injuries or, in the event of death, the diver's family may not only lose their source of support, but they may also be left with many unanswered questions about what caused the accident that took their loved one.

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May 3, 2016

Commercial Diving Accidents and Injuries

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Commercial divers injured during diving accidents may have legal rights to recovery under federal admiralty and maritime law. While a non-maritime legal expert may be familiar with state negligence or wrongful death law, a maritime attorney will best be able to determine whether maritime law applies. This could mean the difference between the amount of recovery for your injury, the time period in which you must file your injury or wrongful death claim, and even whether recovery is possible at all.

What to do if you are injured in a diving accident

It is important to know your rights and to know what benefits you may be entitled to if a diving injury or tragedy happens to you. The Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime Law Attorneys at Brais Brais Rusak represent diving accident victims and their loved ones with over 70 years of combined experience. Brais Brais Rusak have recovered for victims under maritime law through the Death on the High Seas Act, the Jones Act, failure of employers to provide maintenance and cure, and unseaworthiness among other maritime or state law based causes of action.

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May 17, 2014

Seamen Have No Claim for Ailments Caused by Work Related Stress

Miami Jones Act Lawyer.jpgIn a rather shocking opinion, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has found seamen who develop ailments, including heart disease, cause by work related stress have no claim against their employers under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act provides seamen injured by the negligence of their employers a cause of action to recover money damages to compensate them for pain, suffering, disfigurement and lost wages caused by the injury. This Act was traditionally liberally construed in the favor of injured seamen. The recent case of Skye v. Maersk Line, unfortunately, has restricted the scope of the Jones Act. In that case, a chief mate developed left ventricular hypertrophy (a thickening of the heart wall of the left ventricle) as a direct result of excessive work hours and an erratic sleep schedule caused by the demands of his employer. The seafarer brought a lawsuit in Miami Federal Court arguing his employer caused his heart disease by negligently overworking him to the point of fatigue. The shipping company filed a motion requesting the court dismiss the claim as a matter of law arguing that no such relief in provided by the Jones Act. The trial court denied the motion and a trial was conducted. The jury found the shipping company 25% liable and awarded $2,362,299.00 to the injured seaman. The court reduced the award to $590,574.75 to account for the seaman's 75% comparative negligence. The employer appealed the decision.

The Eleventh Circuit analyzing the Jones Act and Supreme Court precedent discussing the Federal Employers Liability Act (a companion statute to the Jones Act) concluded seamen are only protected against the negligent conduct of their employers that imminently threatens them with physical impact. Based upon this legal framework, the Eleventh Circuit found injuries caused by work-related stress are not actionable under the Jones Act because an arduous work schedule and irregular sleep schedule are not "physical perils."

The final paragraph of the Eleventh Circuit's legal analysis sheds light on the outcome of the case. The court feared that by allowing such claims would "flood [the courts with] trivial suits, the possibility of fraudulent claims... and the specter of unlimited and unpredictable liability." This case is another example of the contraction of the Eleventh Circuit's treatment of seamen's claim. Such is a shame as courts historically viewed it was their duty to vigilantly protect seamen.

December 23, 2012

Brais Law Firm Obtains $1.29 Million Dollar Settlement for a Seaman Who Developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Underwent a Fasciotomy After Falling from a Ladder

Florida Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Lawyers.jpgThe maritime attorneys Keith Brais & Richard Rusak of the Brais law firm had the honor to represent Mr. Lloyd Hughes. Mr. Hughes was an assistant engineer for Ft. Worth, Texas based CSC Applied Technologies, LLC. CSC Applied Technologies was awarded a contract from the United States Navy to furnish all personnel, services and such other resources necessary to maintain and operate the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC). Located on Andros Island in the Bahamas, AUTEC's mission is to provide instrumented operational areas in a real world environment to satisfy research, development, test and evaluation requirements and operational performance assessment of war fighter readiness in support of the full spectrum of maritime warfare.

As a part of his shipboard responsibilities, Mr. Hughes was required to maintain, repair and replace, as needed, shipboard light fixtures aboard the Naval research vessel RANGE ROVER. On April 8, 2010, Mr. Hughes was attempting to replace a light bulb within an exterior halogen light fixture mounted to the fascia high above one of the ship's decks. As he was trained and as he'd done on numerous previous occasions, Mr. Hughes utilized a ladder to reach the light fixture. He loosened some and later all of the bolts holding the fixture in place in order to lower the fixture in a controlled fashion so he could work on it on deck. The fixture, however, did not lower away from the fascia as expected and, instead, remained fixed to the fascia because it had been painted over which caused it to be stuck. At this point, Mr. Hughes carefully pulled on the light fixture to break it free when it broke loose unexpectedly. Mr. Hughes' momentum, awkward position on top of the ladder and the unavailability of a co-worker caused him to fall off the ladder and strike the deck.

Mr. Hughes suffered serious injuries, including but not limited to: (a) a comminuted distal left tibia fracture a/k/a pilon fracture, (b) a proximal fibula fracture, and (c) a mild acute compression fracture superior endplate of the L1. Additionally, he suffered a broken small toe and badly bruised tail bone. He also developed compartment syndrome and later underwent bilateral (both sides) fasciotomy of his left leg. These surgeries left horrific scars to Mr. Hughes' leg. Later he was diagnosed by his treating neurologist with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) a/k/a Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) in his left leg. CRPS or RDS is a condition whereby a person experiences a burning type pain, tenderness and swelling of an extremity associated with varying degrees of sweating, warmth and/or coolness, flushing, discoloration and shiny skin. His injured required him to undergo multiple surgical procedures including a fasciotomy.

Court documents allege Mr. Hughes' fall and resulting injuries were the result of a routine job made unsafe and dangerous because; (a) the light fixture had been painted over and effectively sealed to the fascia, (b) the ladder in question was not reasonably suited for the intended purpose of working overhead and the height in question, and (c) no co-worker had not been assigned to assist Mr. Hughes while working in a precarious position and at an unsafe height.

After bringing suit in Federal Court against CSC Applied Technologies and the United States for their alleged negligence, the parties entered into a settlement whereby CSC contributed $1,040,000 and the United States contributed $250,000.