Millions Recovered

  • $5,400,000.00 settlement involving a seaman who fell from a stairway during fire and boat drill aboard a container ship sustaining quadriplegic injuries. Partners Mellusi and Shisha personally inspected the vessel taking hundreds of measurements and still and videos of every stairway in the ship’s main deck house. The data was compared with the vessel’s design plans in our library which demonstrated the vessel had been negligently constructed in that it failed to follow the naval architect’s original design specifications.
  • $2,400,000 jury award to a licensed marine engineer who sustained permanent knee injuries while attempting to remove a 200 lb. valve from an overhead piping system. Partner Mellusi personally inspected the ship’s engine room taking detailed photos and measurements. A duplicate valve was obtained from a maritime junkyard and was brought into court along with an auto-shop mechanical hoist capable of lifting it 12 feet to demonstrate the vessel lacked suitable means to perform this work safely. The jury award was in top ten verdicts in the United States for a comparable knee injury. The case was tried to verdict in a New York Federal Court.
  • $2,980,000.00 jury award to a ship’s cook for back injury resulting from insufficient procedures for moving ship stores. Case tried in New York federal court.
  • $2,700,000.00 settlement to a mate on a Tanker vessel who sustained multiple fractures.
  • $2,000,000.00 was awarded to a barge deckhand – wrongful death.
  • $1,827,000 awarded to a marine engineer working on a US Government supply vessel who fell into an unguarded ventilation fan causing neck, shoulder and hand injuries. The case was tried non-jury before a federal judge in Baltimore Federal Court. The court award was subsequently determined to be within the highest ten verdicts for the State of Maryland in 2009.
  • $1,200,000.00 jury award to a ship’s Bosun who sustained shoulder and neck injuries while attempting to move plywood sheets on main deck of vessel during 40 knot winds. Case tried in New York Federal Court.
  • $950,000 awarded to passenger killed when his recreational boat came into collision with tow wire of tug and barge
  • $850,000 settlement, Federal Court Allentown PA., to seaman sustained herniated disk while lifting a 110 lbs crane hooks.
  • $840,000 jury award to a seaman who fell from ladder while painting sustaining fractured wrist.
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New York Maritime Law Blog

Seeking medical attention after an injury covered by the LHWCA

If you have been injured on the job and meet the qualifications of a worker covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, you may need treatment in order to recover. We at Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha often answer questions about the steps to choosing a health care provider to address your injury.

The U.S. Department of Labor explains that you may choose your own health care provider, but there are factors that may affect whether your employers’ insurance company covers the costs of your treatment. For example, faith healers and naturopaths are not physicians, and their services would not be covered unless you are under the care of a qualifying physician, and he or she prescribes the treatment provided by them. Treatment from a doctor who has been debarred by the Department of Labor is not covered. In certain circumstances, a chiropractor’s services may be covered.

Cruise ship explosion led to fatal worker injury

New Yorkers and others who work on cruise ships are subject to dangers that employees on land do not face. This is one primary reason that United States laws protecting these workers have been tailored to meet the specific needs of those who have been injured while working on a vessel, whether at sea, at anchor or in port.

Inflatable life boats are an important feature of any cruise ship, and these must be rigorously maintained, as well as the systems necessary for launching them in an emergency. This service may have been the task undertaken by a crew member on board a ship in port when a nitrogen gas cylinder he was using exploded. The force of the explosion sent the high pressure cylinder from the vessel to the pier, according to a passenger who witnessed the event, and noise from the blast carried more than a mile from the vessel.

Before you receive compensation under the Jones Act

Any New Yorker who is injured on the job should have some recourse for receiving compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, the workers’ compensation laws that apply to employers in the state are not the same as those that apply to maritime employers. According to the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Circuit, a seaman who sustains an injury because of the employer’s negligence may be eligible to file a Jones Act claim.

If a sensible person would not have acted in the way the employer did to create the circumstances, or if it is the action that is unreasonable, then it may indicate negligence. The seaman must have proof that the act or failure to act was negligent in order to proceed with the claim.

When does maintenance and cure include punitive damages?

When your employer refuses to pay for the medical costs associated with your accident on the job as a seaman, it may seem as if the company is adding insult to injury. However, you may find that during your recovery in New York, the delays and difficulty you experience as a result of the hardship from the injury add further harm, as well. If you are able to prove that you qualify for compensation based on maintenance and cure, you may also be able to hold your employer responsible for those secondary damages.

The U.S. Courts have strict guidelines for you to meet before you may receive maintenance and cure. You must be able to provide evidence of the following:

  •          You were a seaman when you were injured.
  •          Your damages include specific health care and living expenses that should be covered by maintenance and cure.
  •          You were working in service of the vessel when the harm occurred.

The basics: Maintenance and cure for maritime workers

If you work at sea then you might already know that your job is dangerous. Between slippery decks, long exhausting hours and tumultuous weather it is easy to get injured at sea. That is why seamen, deckhands, engineers and other maritime workers are covered under the Jones Act. Anyone working at sea is at a higher risk of injury than those working on land. The Jones Act gives extra protections to maritime workers because of the dangerous nature of the job.

Injuries for maritime workers can be costly

Maintenance and cure is available to any injured maritime worker who is covered under the Jones Act. Injured workers often have to take time off for an injury, which means they could miss entire bouts at sea and lose a lot of money. On top of losing work injured people must shoulder the heavy financial burden of hospital costs. That is where maintenance and cure come in. Employees can receive compensation while they heal from their work injuries.

Careless captains jeopardize worker transport safety

While a typical commuter in New York might drive, take the subway or call for a ride-share driver, as a person who works at an offshore jobsite, your trip might necessarily be by boat. Just like the roads, the waters have lanes and routes that should be traveled, and a captain or crew member who is distracted or careless about following them may put you and your co-workers in danger. We at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP have counseled many maritime workers who have suffered an injury as a result of an accident at sea.

The Offshore Wind Journal reports that captains of crew transfer vessels are typically highly trained, particularly when it comes to ensuring your safety as you board or leave the boat. Although this may be seen as the moment when you are in danger, your life may be at risk at any time while you are on the water. This may come from rocks and other hazards in your path, or from vessels that are using incorrect protocol.

The ins and outs of a burn injury

As a New York seaman or construction worker on a vessel or structure owned by a petroleum company, you may be exposed to an increased risk for a burn injury. We at Tabak Mellusi & Shisha LLP understand that even mild burn injuries may cause severe pain and extensive treatment.

According to WebMD, the seriousness of a burn is not necessarily relative to the amount of pain it could cause you, and the treatment may also be extremely painful. Electrical burns, fires and chemicals are three common sources of burns, and it may cause your skin to swell, turn red, peel or blister. Your skin could also become charred or white, and if you develop weakness, clamminess and bluish fingernails, it could be a sign that you are going into shock.

Oil platform workers in Gulf of Mexico escape burning platform

An employee in any occupation or facility who encounters a blaze may be in danger, but as seamen in New York probably know, the chance of injuries from a fire while on the ocean may be much greater. In addition to the possibility of being burned, there is a risk of drowning during the effort to escape. When working with highly flammable substances such as oil, the hazards climb even more.

After attempting to put out a fire on the oil production platform where they were employed, heavy smoke led crew members to abandon the structure by way of lifeboat and seek help. A vessel in the Gulf of Mexico was able to rescue the four workers. The Coast Guard reported that it took nearly four hours and the efforts of the people aboard four vessels and an airplane to extinguish the fire.

The not so glamorous life of working on a cruise ship

People imagine that working on a cruise ship is filled with fun, entertainment and exhilarating world travel. When job-seekers sign contracts to work on these vessels they are suddenly thrown into a much harsher reality. Many cruise ships push their crewmembers to the limit with hard labor and long hours. Some employees are brought to the point of exhaustion and injury.

Long hours and little time off are notorious at sea

Cruise ships need a massive amount of workers to run such large vessels. They need galley workers, cabin attendants, servers, deckhands, engine staff, entertainment staff, sports and fitness workers and so much more. Management push workers as hard as they can, demanding at least 10 to 12 hours a day, every day of the week.

The Longshore Act and vessels: important distinctions

A person who sustains an injury in the maritime industry in New York may not be eligible for traditional workers’ compensation benefits. However, the U.S. Department of Labor explains that the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act was designed to ensure that these employees who work on boats and other vessels still receive compensation to help cover the costs associated with an injury on the job. This legislation’s language has led to some confusion over the years, though, particularly in regards to the word “vessel.”

The National Law Review notes that there have been a number of court cases that have attempted to define what a vessel is. Typically, it refers to a boat of some kind. According to court rulings, some things floating on the water may not be considered boats, even if, as in the case of a houseboat, the word boat is actually part of the name. The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that it is not a vessel because it is not intended for transportation, and that factor is one of the key identifiers.

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