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Maritime Injury Statistics

January 24, 2012

For maritime employees, injuries are often a part of the job.  As such, they are a cause of great concern for employees, employers and various national safety departments.  The U.S. Coast Guard keeps yearly records of offshore injuries and casualties, in their National Transportation Statistics report.  In 2009, there were a total of 4,830 commercial vessel accidents, causing 103 fatalities (including those reported dead or missing), 551 injuries, and $47 million in property damage.  While being injured at work can be frustrating and nerve wracking, some employees are suing under the Jones Act and general maritime law in order to cover their expenses and injuries.

On December 21, 2011, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an award of damages of $1,894,728.39 for an seaman, Chad Ledet, injured while working as a deckhand on Smith Marine Towing Corporation’s tug boat.  Smith Marine argued that Ledet was at fault in his injury, and therefore was not entitled to any compensation.  The Fifth Circuit upheld the Eastern District of Louisiana’s decision that Ledet was reasonable in following the captain’s orders, and was, in fact, entitled to his award of damages.  Ledet’s award broke down into $373 thousand for future wage loss, $300 thousand for past pain and suffering, $1 million in future pain and suffering, $219 thousand in medical expenses and $1,500 in maintenance and cure.

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