Working out at sea can be a tough and dangerous job, especially if your employer does not keep safety equipment up to spec. Even with the best safety equipment, accidents happen. It is important to understand your rights in these situations so you can fully recover without losing your life savings.

If you know or suspect that you could be partially to blame for the accident, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced maritime accident lawyer who knows how to present your case and can help ensure the court treats you fairly to collect the benefits you deserve.

Negligence determination

For the Louisiana court to determine whose negligence caused an accident, both parties must submit their evidence. The judge or jury then calculates your economic losses, medical bills and future damages. If the court determines that your employer was fully liable for the accident, it must pay you the total damages. If on the other hand, the court determines you were both responsible for the accident, the judge can split the liability charge. If you are 50% responsible, the court only awards you half of the calculated damages.

Andrew Lee Knight vs Kirby Offshore Marine, LLC

Early in 2019, an employee of Kirby Offshore Marine, a marine transport company, sued his employer after an accident where he claimed his supervisor should have waited until safer conditions before ordering him to proceed with his task. Knight sued the company for negligence using the Jones Act as well as unseaworthiness through the general maritime law. While the older maritime law does not give you the right to a trial, when you bring both charges in under the Jones Act, you are able to have a jury trial for both claims.

In this case, the court found that the employee was not careful with his footing while replacing a damaged stern line, and his supervisor’s request for him to fix it did not directly cause the injury. With stronger winds than usual, the weather conditions could have been safer. The employee had to have surgery and lost his job a year later, as he was unable to perform his job as well as he used to. The court calculated his total losses as $343,618 based on the wages of his position, past and future economic losses and medical bills. Because the court found both parties to be equally at fault, the judge only awarded the employee half of his total losses.