Maritime Tanker Accident Lawyer

A maritime tanker accident can be extremely damaging for a victim, leading to catastrophic injuries or fatalities. The risks of fire, explosions, and exposure to hazardous materials can cause severe burns, respiratory issues, and long-term health conditions. Victims may face a grueling recovery, financial ruin, and emotional trauma, altering their lives forever. Under maritime laws, victims have the right to seek compensation from those who are responsible.

A tanker accident lawyer assists in this legal process and can increase a victim’s chances at receiving maximum compensation and justice. Below we’ll go over tanker accidents, including types and causes, legal options for victims, possible financial compensation, and how a lawyer aids victims in the legal process.

Maritime Tanker Accident Lawyer

Working on a tanker can result in serious, life-altering accidents. These accidents can be debilitating and can take years to recover.

The personal injury attorneys at Boatlaw, LLP are ready to fight aggressively for any injuries you may have experienced on a tanker.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation. We litigate maritime cases across the country from our offices in Washington, Oregon, and California. Do not settle for less than what your case is worth.

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About Tankers

Tankers, often massive in size, transport significant amounts of oil and chemicals. They navigate challenging coastal environments, facing strong currents and unpredictable weather. Tankers here are essential to the economy, especially in major ports like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. They also play a role in environmental considerations, as these regions are highly sensitive to potential oil spills. Modern tankers in these areas are equipped with advanced technology for safety and efficiency.

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Types of Tanker Accidents

Types of Tanker Accidents:

  1. Collisions: Occur when tankers crash into other ships or stationary objects likedocks or piers.
  2. Groundings: Happen when tankers run aground, often damaging the ship and creating potential environmental hazards.
  3. Fire and explosions : Significant risks due to flammable cargo onboard.
  4. Operational Accidents: Include mechanical failures or human errors during loading and unloading processes.
  5. Environmental Accidents: Such as oil spills, occur when the tanker’s cargo leaks into the sea, causing ecological damage.

Contributing Factors:

  1. Human Error: Mistakes in navigation, communication breakdowns, or mismanagement are leading causes.
  2. Mechanical Failures: Problems with the engine or other crucial systems can lead to accidents.
  3. Adverse Weather Conditions: Storms, high winds, or fog significantly increase the risk of accidents.
  4. Inadequate Maintenance: Poor maintenance can lead to equipment failures and accidents.
  5. Poor Safety Practices: Non-compliance with safety regulations and inadequate safety measures contribute to accidents.

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Common Types of Victims in Tanker Accident Cases

Crew members are often victims, facing injuries or fatalities because of accidents on board. Workers involved in loading and unloading operations may also be affected by operational accidents. In cases of environmental accidents like oil spills, fishermen and coastal residents can suffer from the indirect effects of the accident. Additionally, first responders and cleanup crews are at risk of exposure to hazardous conditions while addressing the aftermath of these accidents.

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Where Tanker Accidents Happen

Tanker accidents in Washington, California, Oregon, and Alaska are likely to occur near busy port areas and shipping lanes. In Washington, Puget Sound is a notable location for incidents because of heavy marine traffic. California’s risk areas include the busy ports of Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay, where tanker traffic is frequent. Oregon sees potential accident areas near the Columbia River and Port of Portland. Alaska’s unique challenges arise in areas like Prince William Sound and the Aleutian Islands, where harsh weather and remote locations increase the risk of accidents. These states’ coastlines and adjoining sea areas, with their busy ports and challenging weather conditions, are common locations for tanker accidents.

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Legal Options for Victims of Tanker Accidents

In tanker accidents, several parties can be held liable depending on the circumstances of the accident. The shipowner is often a liable party, especially if the accident was because of poor maintenance or lack of safety measures on the ship. The crew or the captain may also be liable if their negligence or errors contributed to the accident.

Under the Jones Act, a crew member can file a negligence claim against their employer if the employer’s actions or failure to act contributed to the accident.

If the accident was caused by an unsafe condition on the ship, an unseaworthiness claim can be made against the shipowner. This claim does not require proving negligence but focuses on the condition of the ship itself.

Parties other than the ship owner or employer may also be liable to a victim. This includes manufacturers of faulty equipment, third-party maintenance companies who failed in their duties (e.g., a company who improperly loaded the tanker), or even other ships if their actions contributed to the accident. The specific civil action brought by the victim in these situations would typically be a negligence lawsuit under general maritime laws. In this type of lawsuit, the victim must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused injuries or damages as a result.

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Potential Damages in Tanker Accident Cases

Seamen can seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more if the accident was because of employer negligence or unseaworthiness.  Maintenance and cure claims provide a seaman with compensation for living expenses and medical treatment until the seaman recovers.

Victims can also pursue claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which provides compensation for medical care, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages for non-crew maritime workers injured on the job. Additionally, in the event of a fatal accident, the Jones Act allows for wrongful death claims, providing compensation to the victim’s family for their loss.

When it comes to damages in tanker accident cases involving parties other than the ship owner or employer, victims may seek compensation for medical expenses for injuries sustained, lost wages if the victim is unable to work, and compensation for pain and suffering.

When someone files a wrongful death claim under the Jones Act, they’re looking for compensation due to the loss of a loved one in a tanker accident. Under the Jones Act, the family can claim damages like lost wages the deceased would have earned, pain and suffering before death, and funeral expenses.

A victim’s partial fault affects the amount of damages a victim can receive in claims other than maintenance and cure claims and LHWCA claims. Under federal maritime law, if the victim is found to be partially at fault for the accident, the total damages given can be reduced in proportion to their amount of fault.

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Steps to Take After Experiencing a Tanker Accident

  1. Seek Medical Attention: First and foremost, attend to any injuries by getting medical help immediately.
  2. Report the Accident: Notify your supervisor or the shipowner about the accident as soon as you can.
  3. Document the Scene: Take the time to document the accident scene and collect contact information from any witnesses.
  4. Keep Medical Records: Preserve all medical records and receipts connected to the injury. These documents are crucial for any potential legal claims.

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Role of a Tanker Accident Lawyer

A tanker accident lawyer plays a meaningful role in helping victims. They offer advice on legal rights and options available under maritime law. The lawyer can investigate the accident, gather evidence, and identify liable parties. They assist in filing claims and handle negotiations with insurance companies and employers, aiming to obtain fair compensation for the victim. In cases where a settlement is not reached, the lawyer can represent the victim in court.

Their background in maritime law and experience with similar cases are helpful for handling the legal process effectively and ensuring the victim’s rights are protected.

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Filing Deadlines

The time limit for filing a negligence claim under the Jones Act or an unseaworthiness clam under general maritime is three years from the date of the injury. LHWCA claims have a slightly different timeframe, allowing for a claim to be filed within one year of the injury. It’s crucial for injured maritime workers to remember these deadlines to ensure their right to seek compensation is preserved.

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Additional Resources

Tanker Master’s Fatigue Led to $72.9M Marine Accident

This report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) explains an accident where a tanker, the Atina, hit an oil and gas production platform, causing $72.9 million in damages. The accident was attributed to the incoming tanker master’s fatigue, because of over 50 hours without sleep. This incident highlights the need for adequate rest and a proper handover period for crew members to ensure maritime safety.

NTSB Determines Cause of the Fatal Collision of a Tanker and Fishing Vessel Near Galveston, Texas

This Marine Accident Brief by the NTSB investigates a fatal collision between the tanker Bow Fortune and the fishing vessel Pappy’s Pride near Galveston, Texas, in dense fog. The collision resulted in the death of three crew members of Pappy’s Pride. The report emphasizes the importance of early communication and proper use of navigational tools to avoid tragic incidents.

Tanker Security Program

The Tanker Security Program (TSP) is an initiative by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration to improve the nation’s supply chain for liquid fuel products. It tries to ensure a core fleet of U.S.-based product tankers remains competitive in international trade, providing the Department of Defense with access to fuel supply during national emergencies.

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Hire a Tanker Accident Personal Injury Attorney

Contact us today to champion your cause and navigate the complexities of maritime claims, ensuring that your rights are fiercely protected and your future is secured.

Call 1 (800) 262-8529 to secure an initial consultation.

We litigate maritime cases across the country from our offices in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. We handle cases that occur in the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, Coos Bay, The Columbia River, Grays Harbor, Port Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Dutch Harbor, and the Gulf of Alaska.

Do not settle for less than what your case is worth.

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