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Maritime worker settles slip-and-fall suit with vessel owner

According to federal law such as the Jones Act, all vessels in operation must be seaworthy. When vessels are unseaworthy and maritime workers are injured as a result, they are able to sue their employers. In these Jones Act lawsuits, the injured workers must only prove that the vessel was unseaworthy and they were injured as a result.

Unlike regular personal injury lawsuits, the injured maritime workers are able to sue their employers under a strict liability theory. This means they do not need to prove that their employers knew or should have known that the unseaworthy conditions existed.

In a recent Jones Act lawsuit, a Texas seaman who was injured aboard a ship sued his employer for damages. The lawsuit was filed in October 2010 in Jefferson County District Court against Phil Guilbeau Offshore.

According to the lawsuit, the Galveston seaman was injured on Sept. 13, 2010, when he was boarding the Lucas John vessel and slipped on a puddle of water on the deck. The seaman said he suffered injuries to his lower back, hip, leg and knee and a result of the fall.

The injured seaman sued Phil Guilbeau Offshore for $5 million in damages, claiming that the vessel was improperly lit and not secured properly to the dock, which is why he fell. The lawsuit claimed that this made the vessel unseaworthy.

The two parties ended up settling the lawsuit out of court recently for an undisclosed sum before the case was set to go to trial. Oftentimes, lawsuits like these are settled out of court so that businesses can keep settlement details private.

Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Seaman settles $5M slip-and-fall suit," David Yates, Nov. 13, 2012

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