Louisiana & Gulf of Mexico Drydock Accident Attorney

A New Orleans drydock accident can cause devastating injuries. Many people are unaware that drydock accidents can be just as dangerous as accidents that happen while a vessel is at sea. Drydocks are often dangerous workplaces, involving heavy machinery, dangerous equipment, and potentially inclement weather conditions. Human error, defective safety equipment, lack of employee training, and multiple other factors can cause severe and sometimes fatal drydock accidents. 

If you’ve been injured in a New Orleans drydock accident, your time to file a maritime injury claim is limited. The best thing you can do is speak to an experienced New Orleans personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The skilled lawyers at Koch & Schmidt have decades of experience representing clients in maritime accidents, including drydock accidents. Contact our New Orleans law firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation. 

New Orleans Drydock Accident

The port of New Orleans is an incredibly busy port and Louisiana’s only international container port. Every year, the port of New Orleans generates over $100 million in revenue through cruise ships, industrial real estate, cargo ships, and rail. Thousands of ships sail from and to the port of New Orleans, and many ships drydock in the port to receive repairs. 

Ship captains use drydocks for the construction, repair, and maintenance of vessels. Accidents can happen in several different ways. An accident can take place onboard a dry-docked vessel, another ship can collide with a dry-docked vessel, or heavy machinery can malfunction and result in injuries. Specific federal and state laws regulate the safety of dockworkers; however, accidents do happen. We’ve listed some of the most common types of New Orleans drydock accidents below.

Drydock Fires

Fires are hazardous, whether they occur while a vessel is at sea or during drydock. Fires are the most common cause of injuries, fatalities, and damage to the ship. The engine room is the most vulnerable part of the ship when it comes to dangerous fires because they may contain leaky pipes, oil-fired boilers, and oil cans. 

When workers engage in “hot works” jobs like gas cutting and welding in the engine room, the flames can lead to deadly explosives and fires. Fuel spills, spontaneous combustion, and smoking can also cause fires on board. During drydock, the engine rooms are filled with portable equipment such as lamps, blowers, and grinders that have electrical connections. When these electrical connections aren’t insulated, or when someone acts negligently, a deadly fire can result during drydock. Unfortunately, many drydock ship fires are entirely preventable. If you’ve suffered an injury or lost a loved one due to a drydock fire caused by negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

Machine and Loading Accidents

Many times, the equipment used by drydock teams is extremely heavy. Crew members need to continually move heavy ship parts and materials, which can cause injuries should a heavy load fall on top of a worker. Shipping companies have to maintain a reasonably safe working environment. 

There should always be more than one worker present when crewmembers are handling heavy loads, especially when a crane is involved. Employers should only allow experienced and licensed crane operators to operate cranes during drydock. Crane and equipment failures or collapses can trigger catastrophic accidents. 

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are just as common on dry-docked vessels as on vessels at sea. A vessel’s dock is often filled with broken pipes, tools, spare parts, and other dangerous equipment during drydock. Workers may trip over spilled liquids or spare parts lying on the floor. 

Employers should ensure that their workers properly store all liquid and other materials that could cause a slip and fall accident. They should also warn their workers of potentially hazardous conditions. When workers are working high up, they should wear harnesses to avoid falling off platforms and scaffolding. Machine accidents, exposure to dangerous gasses and toxins, and falling debris are other common causes of drydock accidents.

Recovering Compensation After a Drydock Accident

Maritime accidents, including many drydock accidents, are covered under federal law. Drydocked vessels can be situated completely on the shore, but other drydocks operate in the water. Every drydock accident case is unique. You will need a knowledgeable New Orleans maritime lawyer to help you navigate the complex legal process of obtaining damages for your injuries.

If you have suffered an injury in a drydock accident, you may recover damages under the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. You will need to prove that you were injured while performing maritime work near, on, or adjacent to navigable water. You must notify your employer that you intend to file a claim within 30 days of your injury and submit your claim within one year of the drydock accident.

Many drydock accidents involve negligent employers. All employers owe their employees a duty of reasonable care. Employers must ensure that their employers are adequately trained and have adequate safety equipment. Maritime employers must also keep their work environment reasonably safe. Doing so could include posting signs warning about dangerous machinery and job sites, ensuring that their heavy machinery is well-maintained, and making all employees wear harnesses when necessary.

Contact an Experienced Maritime Lawyer Today

Depending on the facts of your case, you may have a right to bring a claim under federal law against your employer. Additionally, you may have a valid worker’s compensation claim if you were injured on the job. Finally, you may have a valid claim through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if your employer failed to follow OSHA’s Drydock and Launching regulations. 

Finally, you may have a right to file a lawsuit in a Louisiana state court to secure compensation for your injuries. The best thing you can do is speak with an experienced lawyer who can guide you to your best legal option. Contact Koch & Schmidt today to schedule your initial consultation.