New Orleans is almost entirely surrounded by water, and the majority of Louisiana enjoys easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and other water bodies. Because of this easy access, the maritime industry is a source of employment for many Louisiana residents.
Many people work on boats all around the state as crane operators, able-bodied seaman, and deckhands, to name a few.
It is not just offshore workers who take advantage of Louisiana’s waterways. Many sailors enjoy sailing around Lake Pontchartrain and in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, navigable rivers around the state provide a constant source of recreation for Louisiana citizens for activities like water skiing, tubing, and fishing.
While the water can be a source of employment and recreational activity, it presents several dangers. Sadly, boat accidents happen far too often. The Mahone Firm is here to help boat accident victims through the confusing process following an accident on the water. Here are the answers to several questions that may arise following a boat accident.
How Do Louisiana Boat Accidents Happen?
The answer to this depends on the type of accident that you’re talking about.
Recreational Boating Accidents
Based on a recent study completed by the United States Coast Guard, the top five types of recreational boating accidents are:
- Collisions with other recreational boats;
- Flooding and swamping;
- Collisions with fixed objects;
- Grounding; and
- Skier mishaps.
Though there are many causes, recreational boating accidents, whether sailboats, fishing boats, or speedboats, often happen because of operator error.
In fact, the same Coast Guard study found that the five most common causes of recreational boating accidents were:
- Operator inattention
- Improper lookout;
- Operator inexperience;
- Speeding; and
- Alcohol use.
Understanding the cause of the accident and who should be held responsible can get complicated. This is why the first thing you should do after a boat accident is to discuss your potential case with a boat accident attorney.
Commercial Boating Accidents
Many Louisiana residents work out of the docks along the Louisiana coast, particularly in the southern part of the state. These men and women work out of the Gulf on shrimp boats, fishing boats, tugboats, barges, container ships, and other vessels and face perils every day they are on the job.
Any number of things can injure them:
- Slippery surfaces;
- Defective equipment;
- A poorly maintained work environment;
- Inexperienced seamen putting their safety in jeopardy; or
Though injuries from commercial boating accidents can be severe, victims are often protected by the general maritime law, the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, and other robust laws. Therefore, these laws can give people injured on commercial boats several different ways to be compensated for their offshore injuries.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Boat Accidents?
There are a number of individuals and/or entities who can be held responsible for boat accidents in Louisiana. Here are a few common examples:
Whoever owns the vessel may be held responsible under the general maritime law. Vessel owners owe duties to both crew members and passengers on their vessels. When they breach these duties, they may be held responsible.
Vessel owners owe a duty of seaworthiness to crewmembers. In simple terms, this means that the boat must be fit for its intended purpose. If a boat fails to be seaworthy (such as inadequately manned or failing to have necessary safety equipment), crew members may claim unseaworthiness. It is important to remember that this claim does not apply to non-crewmember passengers on boats.
When a vessel is operated negligently, whoever is operating the vessel at the time may be held liable for the injuries that occur to passengers and crewmembers.
Owners of Unmarked Structures in Waterways
Many boat accident cases arise because obstructions, such as submerged pipelines and wellheads, are not properly marked. When boat operators have no way of knowing that there are hidden dangers below the waterline, tragic accidents can occur that result in severe damages. This is particularly true in areas where boats move at higher speeds. A collision at a high rate of speed can send boat passengers flying and can lead to debilitating injuries.
What Damages Can Be Recovered for a Louisiana Boating Accident?
This depends upon a number of factors, but generally speaking, the following are examples of the damages that can be recovered for boat accidents:
General Damages from Boating Accidents
These damages include items such as mental anguish and pain and suffering. They can also include claims for loss of consortium by spouses of boat accident victims. However, the law is incredibly complicated in this area and excludes those claims in some contexts (ex. Jones Act seamen) but allows them in others (ex. recreational boating accident victims). This is all the more reason to seek advice from a Louisiana offshore injury lawyer following any boat accidents.
Medical Expenses from Boating Accidents
Like any personal injury case, boat accident victims often require medical care to treat their injuries. This is not only limited to the expenses that have been incurred in the past but also in the future. Often, accident victims will need multiple surgical procedures, with some of those procedures not being required until many years down the road.
Lost Wages from Boating Accidents
Boat accident victims, especially those working on commercial vessels, may be unable to work after their accidents. It may even be that they will never be able to go back to doing the work that they used to do. Fortunately, the laws allow those victims to pursue claims for their lost wages, both past, and future, from the individuals or companies responsible for their injuries.
Call a New Orleans Boat Accident Lawyer Today
Boating accidents frequently happen in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. If you’ve been the victim of a boat accident, don’t delay getting the help you need. Call a Louisiana boating accident lawyer Mike Mahone today at (504) 564-7342. There is no charge to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney and figure out your options.