On September 12, 2013, a pipeline in Honolulu, Hawaii leaked 233,000 gallons of molasses into the water. The massive spill has been a catastrophe to marine wildlife in the area. So far clean-up crews have recovered over 25,000 dead fish and other sea creatures.
Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done in the way of clean-up. Unlike oil, molasses sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor, basically suffocating the wildlife. However, one positive aspect of a molasses spill over an oil spill is that the ocean can resolve many of the problems on its own. Bacteria living in the ocean can break down and absorb the molasses spill much more efficiently than it could have with oil.
Matson Navigation Company, the company responsible for the spill, may face lawsuits from surrounding businesses and others that have been severely negatively impacted by this disaster. Matson has already promised that it will pay for all clean-up efforts, but the company still may face fines from government entities for the environmental impact of the spill.
Have you been impacted by the spill in Hawaii? If so, contact the offshore attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP to find out if you may be eligible for compensation.
The Mobile River is a busy place for maritime activity. Ships are always docking, loading, and unloading, making it a popular place for those looking for employment. However, in the past year, there have been a string of maritime accidents, bringing attention to the dire need for attention to workplace safety.
The most recent accident took place on September 7, 2013, and resulted in the death of Dustin Rogers, a dockworker working various maritime jobs along the river. He was killed when a marine crane that was loading railroad tracks dropped one of the 3,000 pound tracks.
In April of this year, there was a huge barge explosion that seriously injured three people. In the same month, a guard shack was blown into the water, killing one worker.
Over all, there have been 12 very serious maritime accidents, including two fatalities. Each time, there has been an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspection. Despite the fact that each company must follow safety regulations, it is each company’s individual responsibility to implement and enforce these regulations.
When companies do not follow safety regulations and fail to put worker safety above all other concerns, accidents become more commonplace and workers can lose their lives. Whether you are a worker in a commercial fishing boat, a barge, a dredge, or a marine crane, the offshore accident attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP can help you hold the parties responsible for your accident accountable. With an experienced attorney on your side, you will be more likely to recover complete compensation for your injuries.
Men and women that work as gas or oil workers and have been injured on a floating rig and jack-up rig are typically covered by maritime injury law, specifically the Jones Act. This also includes being injured when being transported by helicopter or boat to the rig. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 823 gas and oil extraction workers between 2003 in 2010 were killed on the job.[i]
Maritime lawyers handle a variety of cases for individuals seeking to recover compensation for disability, suffering, pain, and lost wages. This is often a result of negligence by the employer that was either a direct cause of any injury or something that contributed to it.
Offshore structures and drilling rigs create an exceedingly hostile work environment. The conditions that the gas and oil workers are expected to deal with place them in serious danger. In addition, the escalated levels of production activity along with individuals working together in a closed environment maximize both profits for the company and an increased likelihood of becoming seriously injured for the help.
The most common types of dangers on a drilling rig include:
- Accidents involving slips and falls
- Blocker cable breaks
- Falling objects
- Faulty grating
- Negligence when operating equipment
- Cathead slips
Based on the specifics of each offshore oil rig accident, the injured party is likely able to collect compensation through a competent maritime injury attorney in a court case involving personal injury law. In addition, those that have been injured when performing work on a fixed platform will likely be covered by other federal law including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Maritime injury law is complex, challenging to understand, and extremely complicated. Any individual that is suffered when working on a fixed rig or floating rig should seek out a competent attorney to handle their case.
The Jones Act of 1920, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, is a form of workers’ compensation. The specific act holds business enterprises and organizations that are typically engaged in marine commerce fully liable for the death or injuries of individuals working at sea under specific circumstances. These circumstances include negligence of the employer. It is a structure that is based on FELA (Federal Employment Liability Act)[i] law.
The Act’s Coverage
The Merchant Marine Act is a law that directly applies to any employee that works in maritime commerce. This would include individuals involved in the production or exploration of offshore energy resources. In fact, the act also directly applies to a non-traditional employee (seamen) including those that work in drilling, mapping and surveying, deep-sea diving, offshore construction, or offshore maintenance.
The Act’s Jurisdiction
Any individual that has been injured or ill and is currently seeking compensation under the Merchant Marine Act must first initiate competent legal action, usually through a maritime lawyer. The action must be located in the jurisdiction of the defendant, or in the judicial district of the principal office of the defendant. As an example, if the employee was injured at sea just off the California coast, but the employer’s headquarters are located outside of Houston, they would seek to hire a Jones Act attorney in Houston to file for restitution.
Typically, to be fully protected under the Merchant Marine Act, the individual needs to be an American citizen or a resident alien of the US during the time he or she was injured. Many individuals hire a Jones Act lawyer in Houston when they have suffered a serious illness or an injury at sea, as a way to seek recompense for their pain, suffering, injuries, recovery time and all the associated expenses.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to get into a life boat or find yourself in a situation where you need to leave the safety of the main vessel. However, there are times where an issue arises and there really is nothing else you can do. When climbing into the lifeboat and having it lowered to sea doesn’t mean you should find yourself in greater danger, but with recent corrosion issues with the Thomson Majesty, you need to know your rights. Recently, the Malta Maritime Safety Investigation Unit released a safety alert due to failing wires that hold up the lifeboat when it is being lowered into the water. Due to corrosion and other maintenance issues, the wire is likely to snap and give way, resulting in either one end of the lifeboat dropping towards the water or the entire boat dropping down dozens of feet to the water below. This greatly increases your chance of injury, as your body either comes in contact with the water, the life boat or the vessel you are leaving. There are many different issues that might arise, but you need to utilize the assistance of a maritime injury lawyer, should you find yourself in such a situation.
It is important for you to know your rights and to protect yourself. If you are even involved in an accident in which you are injured at sea or on the water due to neglect or maintenance issues from the lifeboats, you need to seek out the professional assistance of a maritime injury lawyer. You are going to hear a lot from other injury lawyers who say they can protect you the most and offer the best services, but the fact of the matter is you need to have the help from a lawyer who has experience with the given issue and the kind of law, as maritime law is unique. The maritime lawyer is going to assist you through every instance and aspect of the situation, so you always know you are protected.
Two fisherman in Bridlington recently made a short film about wearing life jackets to encourage others to increase their safety when at sea. The film is two minutes long and is available on the social network site YouTube with the title “Life Jacket: a Fisherman’s Friend.”
The two men decided to make a film after a conclusion from a panel of experts found that 26 fishermen may still be here today if they were wearing a life jacket. A fishing boat back in 2007 was involved in an incident while at sea. The statistic released alarmed the Fishing Industry Safety Group that they took the initiative to being more attention to safety. Safety when on a boat at sea is important and a maritime lawyer can provide legal advice to fisherman involved in any accidents when on a boat.
The group approached two fishermen with the idea of making a short film about life jacket Safety. This led the pair to begin work on the film with help from members of the Fishing Industry Safety Group. A life jacket is necessary when going out to sea. Many fisherman have stated they will not go our to sea if one is not available. The biggest reason is that people often gasp and forget how to stay afloat after they hit the water. Fisherman can have severe difficulties if a life jacket is not being worn.
Anyone who is a fisherman should watch “Life Jacket: a Fisherman’s Friend” to learn about the need of a life jacket. The goal is to have fisherman consider buying and using a life jacket when they set out for a daily sea voyage. A life jacket is easy to wear by any adult. They are not heavy and do not prevent the user from performing any activities when on a boat.
Fisherman with questions about the lack of a life jacket on a boat should contact a maritime lawyer that can provide anyone with much-needed advice.