fisherman claims

Maritime Lawyers and the BP Oil Spill, Oil Rig Injury lawyers

Oil rig accident and injury lawyers

Rigs are dangerous places that can cause serious injury and even death. Oil rig accidents, include Fishermen, Divers, shrimpers, oystermen, food processors,as well as property owners in the areas of the rig explosionGulf Coast oil rig workers  work  on oil rigs along or in the Gulf of Mexico. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and oil rig accidents on soil rigs are very dangerous  places to work.  They can cause serious permanent  injury and wrongful  death.

oil rig accidents, include Fishermen, Divers, shrimpers, oystermen, food processors,as well as property owners in the areas of the rig explosion

There are roughly 1,828 oil rigs located in the United States. . Working on an oil rig is probably one of the country’s most dangerous jobs. Oil rig workers , work a strenuous 8-12 hours per day; demands for increased productivity are high; there is a shortage of oil rig workers, and working conditions can be  dangerous. Oil rig injuries and accidents happen frequently.

Oil Rig Explosion Injury Cases are Reviewed by Maritime Injury Lawyers

By Jef Feeley and Allen Johnson Jr.

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) — How much BP Plc will pay for the 2010 explosion of a Gulf of Mexico oil rig that killed 11 people and caused the largest offshore spill in U.S. history may rest in the hands of a former maritime lawyer who began his career representing sailors in personal-injury cases.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans can draw on that experience as he oversees the first phase of the case against London-based BP and other companies over the blast on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and subsequent oil spill. The trial is set to begin Feb. 27.

“He knows maritime law backwards and forwards, and that’s one of the reasons he got this case,” Val Exnicios, a New Orleans lawyer representing a group of commercial fishermen suing BP, Transocean Ltd. and other firms involved in drilling operations at the rig. “You want a judge who knows this area of the law cold, given the complexities of this case.”

A judicial panel assigned Barbier, 67, all federal litigation over the BP spill in August 2010. The judge, who declined requests for an interview, is slated to preside over a three-month, nonjury trial that will apportion blame and determine exposure to punitive damages for the blast.

The April 2010 Macondo well blowout sent almost 5 million barrels of oil spewing into the gulf, according to a U.S. government report issued in September.

Hundreds of Lawsuits

The accident spawned hundreds of lawsuits against BP and its partners, including Transocean, the Vernier, Switzerland- based owner and operator of the drilling rig, and Houston-based Halliburton Co., which provided cementing services on the facility.

The lawsuits include pollution claims by federal and state governments and consolidated cases brought by thousands of commercial fishermen, seafood processors, property owners and tourism-related businesses harmed by the spill.

Barbier grew up in the West Bank, a cluster of suburbs, small cities and unincorporated towns straddling the border of the Orleans and Jefferson parishes, across the Mississippi River from the city of New Orleans. He went to high school in Harvey, a residential neighborhood of single-family homes that sprung up around the oilfield services industry and the Harvey Industrial Canal.

Barbier won a football scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University, where he played on the offensive and defensive lines.

Mississippi River

His father, Walter Louis Barbier, worked as a marine diesel engineer for Mississippi River Bridge Authority and the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development, according to state officials.

After earning a business degree in 1966, Barbier worked as a high school teacher and accountant, including stints at Boeing Co. and Shell Oil Co., while attending law school, he told the U.S. Senate in 1998 after he was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton.

After finishing law school at Loyola University in 1970, Barbier clerked for state and federal judges before entering private practice, representing seamen and other plaintiffs suing under federal maritime statutes. He went on to start his own law firm.

Recoveries for his clients include a $325,000 settlement for a welder injured when a Greek tanker slammed into a fleet of barges moored on the Mississippi River in 1992, according to his Senate filing.

Fallen Driller

He also represented a driller who fell through an unsecured grating on an oil platform, winning him $300,000 in a case that was later cited by the Louisiana Supreme Court in another matter, according to the Senate questionnaire.

“He has an understanding of the fellow who has been hurt as a seaman,” Blake Jones, a New Orleans-based plaintiffs’ lawyer who handles maritime suits. Jones is representing a business owner in the spill case who contends BP’s oil damaged 18,000-acres of his oyster beds.

Barbier has planned two subsequent nonjury trials focusing on the size of the 2010 spill and efforts to contain it. Test jury trials on damages are to follow.

“The judge has already done a good job of whittling down the case to make it more manageable,” said Edward Sherman, a Tulane University Law School professor in New Orleans who teaches classes on complex litigation and mass-tort law. “Many times, judges are reluctant to make tough pretrial rulings that narrow the focus of an environmental disaster or mass-tort case.”

Maritime Law

The case is being tried under U.S. maritime law, which covers shipping and navigation activities in inland and coastal waters. Judges can choose to hear maritime disputes without juries. Maritime law requires owners and operators of drilling platforms to conduct safe operations that don’t damage the environment, plaintiffs suing BP and other defendants contend in court filings.

Barbier initially set the first phase of the trial as a limitation-of-liability action. The trial was to consider Transocean’s effort to cap its financial exposure over the spill under an 1851 law designed to protect ship owners. He later expanded that to include claims of fault for the disaster against all defendants.

BP and some defendants also are facing claims from the U.S. government under both the Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act as part of the liability trial.

Exxon Valdez

The Oil Pollution Act was passed after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, when a grounded tanker dumped 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

Under the law, a well owner is considered the responsible party and is liable for damages and cleanup costs. BP already has acknowledged that it’s among those responsible under the act. Barbier must decide who else may be liable for the spill.

The Clean Water Act governs pollution discharges into bodies of water and allows regulators to seek fines of as much as $1,100 a barrel for oil spilled through simple negligence and as much as $4,300 a barrel against parties found to have been grossly negligent.

On Feb. 22, Barbier held BP and Anadarko strictly liable under the Clean Water Act, allowing the U.S. to seek as much as $1,100 from them for every barrel spilled. Transocean’s liability is to be determined at trial.

The trial also will determine whether the companies were grossly negligent, which could boost the possible maximum fines under the Clean Water Act to the $4,300-a-barrel limit. Barbier would set the fines after a later trial.

Punitive Damages

If Barbier finds BP and other defendants’ handling of drilling operations and the spill grossly negligent, he can also award punitive damages to businesses and property owners under maritime law, said Tulane’s Sherman.

“The trial will address all allocation-of-fault issues that may properly be tried to the bench without a jury,” Barbier has said. That includes “the negligence, gross negligence, or other bases of liability of, and the proportion of liability allocable to the various defendants, third parties, and non-parties,” he has said.

Before his elevation to the federal bench, Barbier served as the head of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association, a group made up primarily of plaintiffs’ attorneys.

As head of the group, Barbier successfully lobbied against Louisiana Governor Mike Foster’s bid to have lawmakers create a no-fault car-insurance system for the state, which would have restricted motorists’ right to sue over accidents, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

Sold Bonds

Barbier said in 2010 that he sold Transocean and Halliburton bonds he held in his investment portfolio “so there is no perception of a conflict in these cases.” The judge’s work as a trial lawyer prompted some critics to question his impartiality in BP spill decisions.

Melissa Landry, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group, criticized his December ruling ordering 6 percent of settlements set aside as potential fees for plaintiffs’ lawyers overseeing consolidated claims in the spill cases.

The fee set-aside is “ludicrous and absolutely unjust,” Landry said in a January interview. “It certainly calls into question his impartiality and it certainly reminds one of his previous life.”

Exnicios, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said Barbier has issued rulings that have displeased both sides in the case.

As part of the trial, Barbier will be called on to sift through hundreds of thousands of pages of reports, depositions and exhibits to decide what companies are liable for spill damage and who can recover.

He “understands who his boss is, which is a relatively conservative Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Jones said. “I don’t think he will stray too far off the leash.”

The case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

What is Maritime Injury Law ?

What is the Maritime Injury LawMaritime injury and Accident Helpline

 Admiralty law or Maritime Injury law is a highly specialized area of the law that can generally be described as that area of the law having legal control over vessels (ships, boats, barges or any other structure) that navigate (move from place to place) over water.

The federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over claims on the high seas , Admiralty claims, and these Maritime claims are tried in the Federal Courts without a jury. The exceptions are personal injury cases which by a proposition known as the ”saving to suitors clause” can be brought, at the option of the injured person in a State court with a jury as would any personal injury lawsuit.

In the United States constitution we incorporated English Admiralty law in its entirety as the basis for United States Admiralty law. As ships move across water from country to country the world has found it best to make the Admiralty laws of each country consistent with one another.

This is done by agreeing to many international treaties on various legal issues. That having been said the United States probably has the most generous provisions to help those injuries governed by Admiralty law. London and New York have traditionally been the centers for world admiralty law.

Maritime injuries

The first and most important aspect to consider is the date of the injury. There is a three (3) year Statute of Limitation for all injuries on the seas or Admiralty cases which means if you do not sue the negligent party who injured you within three (3) years of the date of the injury you forever lose your right to file this law suit and all your legal rights.

An exception that hurts injured passengers says that a passenger carrier can put a provision in the passenger ticket requiring a six (6) month notice of injury provision of the injury claim and requiring law suit within one (1) year of the date of the injury. Every passenger ticket has this provision, and it is necessary to save your passenger ticket.

Jones Act and Seaman Injuries

These are personal injuries that happen to a crew member of a vessel. To be crew (a seaman) you must be attached to a vessel or fleet of vessels under the same ownership while performing approximately thirty (30) percent of your work, and that work must aid in the mission (job) of the vessel. The Courts have a broad definition aiding in the job of the vessel. (For example a ship’s dancer is crew, as is the person who comes to a docked vessel in navigable waters regularly to clean and then goes home)

If you are a Jones Act Seaman the law gives you special protection. You are, among other things, a “Ward of the Admiralty Court”. Your burden of proof at trial is small as you must prove negligence only greater than a scintilla (small amount) of evidence to recover for your injury. You have the right to seize the property of the vessel to protect your rights.

The ship owners have a classic technique to defeat Jones Act claims it is called “attack the plaintiff.” You and your lawyer must be prepared for this attack. Remember the defense lawyer earns his living by “attacking the Plaintiff.”

General Maritime Law Negligence and Un-seaworthiness

These actions are also available to the Jones Act seaman. the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence (more than 50% percent), and seaworthiness is a concept that requires the vessel owner to put his vessel in to a seaworthy (able to properly go to sea and fully perform the mission of the vessel) condition before the voyage, and if he fails to live up to that responsibility and that failure causes injury the owner is liable for that un-seaworthiness.

Extremely important is maintenance and cure which is part of general admiralty law and applies to all crew. If you are injured or fall ill during your course and scope of employment on a vessel; the vessel owner must pay you your living expenses (maintenance) and your medical expenses (cure) until you have reached what is called “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). Failure on the part of a seaman’s employer to supply maintenance and cure may subject the employer to severe penalties.

Passengers and others who board a vessel for business purposes.

The care owed to these injured people is “reasonable care under the circumstances.” At first look it is a standard quite similar to injuries that happen on land. The difference is that a ship and the sea can be inherently dangerous places, and require a much more specialized knowledge to determine what exactly were the circumstances and what would be reasonable care considering the danger.

Lawyers of the Sea and Admiralty, Cruise Ship Injuries

Call today for an Admiralty Maritime Lawyer,Attorney law Firm.  Admiralty is the law of the sea.Admiralty Lawyers concentrate on the law of the sea also known as Maritime law, Longshoremen and Injury at Sea.  Cruise ship Injuries are governed by this law

Admiralty and Maritime lawyers have experience in laws that presides over navigation and shipping, including waters; commerce; seamen; piracy; towing; wharves, piers, and docks; insurance; maritime liens; canals; and recreation. Admiralty  lawyers are knowledgeable in legal issues  that apply to vessel accidents on and off-shore are complex and encompass federal and state regulations, and may also be impacted by international treaties and conventions including:

* The Jones Act protects ill or injured "seamen who are in the service of the ship".

A seaman who suffers injury or illness in the performance of their job may be entitled to compensation for food, lodging, medical care and unearned wages.

* Individuals or passengers on a vessel are entitled to a certain standard of care. If the ship owners fail to exercise reasonable care for guests or visitors on the vessel, they may be held liable for negligence. Boat owners can also be held liable for injuries and death involving assaults, mechanical failures, piloting error and intoxication at sea.

Cruise Ship Injuries

 

  • Slip and fall accidents on wet or uneven surfaces, or due to cruise ship maneuvering
  • Water slide, wave pool and swimming pool accidents
  • Accidents on cruise line-approved excursions at ports of call
  • slippery floors and wet staircases
  • contagious diseases
  • Drowning
  • unruly passengers creating a dangerous situation
  • Cruise ship sexual assault or physical assault by crew members or other passengers
  • Contaminated food resulting in severe illness (i.e. norwalk virus infections, gastrointestinal infections, salmonella, etc.)
  • Medical negligence — People who are treated aboard a cruise liner may be put off at ports in other countries without adequate arrangements made for their care. The treating doctors may not be qualified or have proper medical equipment, leading to wrong diagnosis and/or improper treatment.