Jones Act seaman nets $1.2 million settlement for injuries

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A former Jones Act Seaman who was hurt when he fell from a gangway in New York Harbor seven years ago has settled his lawsuit against New York City, the vessel owner, for $1.2 million.

The former deckhand, now 35, dropped 5 feet when the gangway gave away as the ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi was being moved from its berth. The seaman suffered back injuries in the fall, later required surgery and remains on Social Security disability.

“It’s been a rough couple of years,” the plaintiff said last week in a telephone interview. “We’re just looking to move forward and get on with our lives.” 

According to documents filed with the court, the plaintiff was standing on a wooden gangway which extended from the dock onto the rail of the boat. The gangway, which is used only by crew and not by passengers, was in the process of being removed. Before it could be completely detached, the lines tethering the boat were prematurely released and the vessel surged away from the pier. The gangway then slid off the rail and the Jones act seaman fell 5 feet onto the pier.

The Plaintiff suffered back injuries and later required spinal surgery. These injuries have prevented him from returning to work. He sued the city, as owner of the vessel.

Under the Jones Act, a seaman can sue the boat owner if the vessel is deemed unseaworthy. Unseaworthiness usually relates to conditions that could have been corrected or avoided by the company such as those caused by improper design, construction, inspection and maintenance of the work place.As a result, a vessel might not be reasonably fit for her intended service. “Unseaworthiness” is normally a question of fact to be determined by the jury.

Maritime workers must either prove unseaworthiness or slight negligence on the part of the owner of the vessel in order to qualify for a settlement or judgment for their injuries over and above maintenance and cure. A maritime worker should not attempt to guess whether or not the burden can be met. It is always advisable to talk to a maritime lawyer whether the issue is complex or simple

If you or anyone you know has been injured as a result of a maritime accident, call Harmon Smith & Vourvoulias today at 504-717-2093 for a free case evaluation. Our experienced Jones Act litigation attorneys are available to give you the help you need to protect your right to recover for your injuries.

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By George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile

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