Seacor Marine extols its commitment to prioritize the safety of all personnel and colleagues. Despite this, the company faced various lawsuits after a tragic maritime incident. One of its vessels, the Seacor Power liftboat, capsized near the coast of Louisiana on April 13, 2021.
The incident happened about two hours after leaving the coast of Port Fourchon to deliver the goods for a Talos Energy oil platform. The United States Coast Guard (USGC) and good Samaritan vessels rescued six people and recovered six bodies out of the 19 individuals on board. The remaining seven are missing and presumed dead.
Offshore workers, including the Seacor Power crew, are usually at risk of injury because of the nature of their job. When an accident happens, like the capsizing of the Seacor Power, some laws protect them.
However, many maritime workers fail to seek compensation for their injuries and losses. This failure is due to the complexity of offshore injury claims and maritime incidents. There are different maritime laws to consider, and many feel pressured to settle for less than they legally deserve. Additionally, big companies have the resources to delay or deny compensation.
Fortunately, there is help available for injured victims. You can secure the necessary justice and compensation by connecting with an experienced personal injury attorney.
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Relevant Maritime Laws and the Seacor Power Accident
Weather conditions and the type of work on vessels pose an inherent risk to maritime workers. Despite advanced weather forecasting and safety measures, there’s no way for operators to predict what the crew will face offshore consistently. The Seacor Power accident was only one of many unfortunate incidents in the maritime industry.
Maritime law, also called admiralty law, governs navigation and shipping regulations and legal issues. When accidents and injuries occur, several factors influence the legal options or applicable laws after a maritime or offshore accident. These may include:
- Who was injured
- Where the injury took place
- What type of job is performed
Get to know the different types of maritime laws and how they can protect you in accidents like the capsizing of the Seacor Power.
Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
DOHSA is accessible when an offshore accident occurs more than three nautical miles from shore. Under DOHSA, the surviving spouse, parent, child, or dependent of a deceased crew may pursue damages.
The Seacor Power accident happened around eight nautical miles from Port Fourchon on the Louisiana Coast. Thus, family members and dependents of the deceased victims may file a lawsuit under DOHSA.
However, there are some things you should know. DOHSA requires one representative to seek damages on behalf of all victims’ surviving families. It also limits the claims to financial losses, meaning emotional and mental damages are not included.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act outlines a company’s legal obligation to provide offshore employees with a safe working environment. The employer may be liable for damages when they fail to meet their responsibilities, causing accidents that result in injuries.
However, the injured victims have the burden of proof. This requirement means they must prove that employer negligence played a role in their injuries. Compared to a typical personal injury case, the burden of proof required in the Jones Act is much lower.
General maritime law
General maritime law is a matter of precedent rather than statute. The court must decide on matters such as the Seacor accident based on historical codes, treaties, and conventions.
Under this body of law, the ship owner is responsible for ensuring the vessel’s seaworthiness. A ship is only considered seaworthy if all parts are reasonably safe for their intended use. The crew members must be adequately fit, trained, and supervised.
Under the Jones Act, maritime employers may be liable for unsafe working conditions. But the general maritime law holds the ship’s owner responsible for accidents involving a vessel’s un-seaworthiness.
The vessel’s owner and maritime employer will usually be the same company. However, they may be different in some cases. That’s why having an attorney is crucial to file a claim against the proper company.
Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
Not all maritime accidents happen offshore. Onshore maritime workers operating forklifts and loading and unloading a ship’s cargo are also at risk of unsafe conditions. They may have exposure to hazardous chemicals, faulty equipment, and poor weather conditions.
The LHWCA protects those dockworkers. When they get injured, the employer must pay them compensation, regardless of fault. Compared to general maritime law, there is a limit to the amount that dockworkers may claim through the LHWCA.
The Limitation of Liability Act
The Limitation of Liability Act aims to protect vessel owners from financial ruin after a maritime incident or casualty. Shipping and maritime industries were much riskier 170 years ago. It has served its purpose and protected shippers from accidents that were not their fault.
However, in recent decades, the law often hindered and delayed victims from getting justice and compensation for preventable offshore accidents and injuries. The modern use of this law tends to protect large corporations from being held liable for their negligence.
Under this law, vessel owners can assert their rights to limit their liability to the ship’s value. That might be close to zero if the vessel is salvageable. This limitation can be devastating for the victims and their families.
They may have to face years-long legal battles with powerful corporations. Because of the owner’s limited liability, victims and their surviving family members may be unable to obtain full compensation for their injuries and losses. It would force them to deal with the consequences of accidents.
Who’s at fault for the capsizing of Seacor Power?
Various people and businesses could be liable for maritime accidents. In the case of the Seacor Power accident, who allowed the vessel to sail is a significant factor in gauging liability.
The Seacor Marine would likely have some legal responsibility for sending the liftboat out during severe weather conditions. However, other entities, such as Talos Energy, may have played a role in the incident.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s final report identifies a loss of stability as the probable cause of the accident. The liftboat capsized as a result of high winds during a severe thunderstorm.
When combined with sea conditions, the winds exceeded the vessel’s operational wind speed limits, making it difficult to stabilize the ship. This loss of stability and the angle and speed at which it capsized made it almost impossible for crew members to escape.
The NTSB investigation found no safety issues in the Seacor Power that might have contributed to the incident. The captain’s decision to get underway also didn’t involve commercial pressure. Investigators concluded that the decision was reasonable given the weather forecast that morning.
However, they also noted that Seacor Power didn’t receive the National Weather Service Special Marine Warning. It was supposed to notify mariners of an approaching severe thunderstorm. Unfortunately, there was an outage in the Coast Guard’s New Orleans navigational telex site.
Based on the cause and fault of the Seacor Power incident, victims may leverage the DOHSA and other applicable state laws. Many lawsuits already alleged the vessel wasn’t seaworthy and the Seacor Marine was negligent and violated maritime laws. But the company may have a defense and opportunity to limit their liability.
Filing an Offshore Injury Lawsuit
The capsizing of Seacor Power caused the tragic loss of most of its crew members. Because of this catastrophic incident, the rescued crew and surviving family members of the Seacor accident victims took civil action.
At least 11 parties filed lawsuits, accusing the vessel owners of federal maritime law violations and gross negligence. Families of the crewmen killed in the accident filed wrongful death lawsuits.
One family sued Seacor Marine, Seacor Liftboats, Talos Energy, and Semco, which manufactured the liftboat. They claimed that the companies put money over the safety and lives of their crew. Two of the Seacor Power survivors also filed a lawsuit for their injuries.
While other lawsuits continue, families of some deceased crewmen have entered a settlement with the companies. The surviving spouse of David Ledet, the captain of the vessel, was one of them.
Offshore Injury Lawsuit Process
The Seacor Power incident is among the worst maritime tragedies in history. Although compensation is available, it’s evident that filing an offshore injury lawsuit involves a maze of different maritime laws. Remember that there are several guidelines that you must meet to be eligible under a specific rule.
Ideally, the process of filing a lawsuit begins with meeting a lawyer. This step is essential if you need help deciding under which law to file your suit. The pleading stage is the first step of the lawsuit process. It’s when the plaintiff files documents with the court outlining their complaints against the defendant.
Once the defendant receives the complaint, they have a short window to respond through a formal written statement. They may either accept or deny the claims in your complaint. Sometimes, they may file a motion, stating their defenses to dismiss your claim.
Cases involving maritime accidents and injuries are often complex. Since they can take a long time to resolve, most of these claims result in settlements. However, some case facts may be difficult to determine, weakening your claim. The defendant’s lawyer may opt to go to trial in such cases.
The Role of an Attorney in Offshore Accidents
Maritime and offshore accident injuries and fatalities have long-term effects on the victims and their surviving family members. You may have the legal right to seek monetary damages. However, obtaining compensation from large corporations like Seacor Marine is an uphill battle.
Insurance companies use various tactics to avoid paying injured victims the amount they rightfully deserve. Suppose you or a loved one are victims of maritime incidents similar to the Seacor accident. In that case, an experienced attorney can help you with the following tasks.
Determine which law covers you
Different maritime laws cover incidents like the capsizing of the liftboat Seacor Power. It also means maritime employers and other liable parties compensate injured victims under various laws.
Cases involving maritime injuries are different from other types of personal injury claims. They require a deep understanding of maritime laws applicable to your circumstances. Only a lawyer with extensive experience handling maritime cases can help you decide which law covers you.
They can help you determine whether you have a valid personal injury claim under maritime law and successfully pursue the maximum compensation.
Properly file a claim
Depending on the specific maritime law covering your situation, you must follow proper procedures when filing a claim.Missing one step can be disastrous for your case. Let an experienced attorney get your legal matters to prevent this from happening.
Besides assisting you with filing a claim, a lawyer can help you meet the burden of proof. They also know what to do if your employer and insurance company refuse to pay.
Help you avoid legal mistakes
Many factors can hinder your ability to get adequately compensated for your injuries. These may include missing the statute of limitations on filing or failing to report your injuries on time. An experienced lawyer can help you avoid legal mistakes that jeopardize your chances of recovering fair compensation.
Represent you in court
In many instances, simply filing a claim isn’t enough to obtain fair compensation. The employer and insurance company will likely attempt to devalue or deny your claim. Depending on the maritime law that qualifies you for payment, you may need to file a lawsuit against the liable party.
A knowledgeable attorney can represent you in court. They will fight for your rights, giving you the best chance of recovering what you legally deserve.
Did you know?
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement recorded two fatalities and 164 injuries from offshore incidents in 2020.
Injured in a Boat Accident? Seek Legal Help From The Personal Injury Center
The consequences of maritime accidents can be catastrophic. Like other personal injury cases, negligence is the most significant contributing factor in boat accidents.
Your rights to compensation after sustaining injuries in a vessel or offshore depend on maritime laws. But determining which one applies to your case can be challenging.
The case of the Seacor accident is an excellent example of the many factors that may impact a personal injury or wrongful death claim. That’s why it would be wise to seek legal help from a local and experienced attorney who routinely handles maritime and federal law.
Find the right attorney for your case to ensure justice and fair compensation. The Personal Injury Center is the best place to start your search. Contact us now for a free evaluation of your case, and we’ll help connect you with an experienced lawyer.
Fight for your legal rights in the Seacor accident and similar cases with The Personal Injury Center. Get connected with an attorney for your boat injuries and accidents.
FAQs on the Seacor Accident
What should I do after an offshore accident like the capsizing of Seacor Power?
Sustaining injuries in an offshore accident like the capsizing of Seacor Power can be overwhelming. Here are the things you can do should you find yourself in this situation:
- Seek prompt medical attention to assess and document your injuries.
- Notify your employer or superior about the incident and follow through with a written report.
- Collect all the necessary documentation and evidence to back up your claim.
- Never sign anything or make a recorded statement without first consulting a lawyer.
- Get representation from a personal injury attorney specializing in offshore injury law.
How long will resolving an offshore injury case take?
Depending on the specific circumstances, an offshore injury case can take several months to more than a year. Below are some factors that may affect the length of your case.
- Your medical condition
- Whether you pursue a settlement or go to trial
- How soon did you contact an attorney after the accident
- The defendant's delaying tactics
What's the average settlement amount for offshore injury cases?
The settlement amount of your offshore injury claim will vary based on the circumstances of your case and applicable law. But the value of your case will likely be higher if your injuries are serious and leave you with permanent impairments.