Posts in Maritime


How Much Is My Maritime Accident Worth?

September 4, 2018 Maritime 0 Comments

Wooden gavel laying on American dollarsSuing is one of your options in the aftermath of a serious boating accident, but is it always a good idea? Here at the Law Office of Bart Bernard, we can discuss this with you during a free case evaluation. Generally, we tell people it’s worth pursuing a settlement or jury award if you have suffered a serious injury (like a “hard” broken bone injury), a permanently disfiguring injury (like burns from a fire), or a disabling injury (like perforation of an internal organ, spinal cord damage, or TBI). While a particular outcome cannot be guaranteed, we get paid on contingency, so we only take cases we are confident we can win. Here we will discuss some of the factors that go into valuing the worth of your maritime accident case.

How is the value of my case determined?

Calculating damages, otherwise known as monetary compensation, is a difficult task. The first step is to work with healthcare professionals who can assess and treat your injuries. Medical professionals are our biggest ally in estimating the cost of ongoing medical care needs and expenses. In the preparation of your case, we’ll show how the maritime accident injured you and cost you a great deal of money. There are other less tangible considerations as well.

What are tangible expenses in a maritime injury case?

Eligible compensation for personal injury cases like maritime accidents typically include tangible expenses:

  • Past, present, and estimated future medical bills
  • Lost past and present income, and loss of earning capacity related to disability
  • Assistive devices and home modifications to accommodate disability

These totals can be easily gathered from your insurance company, healthcare provider, and employer, as well as receipts you have saved from disability-related purchases.

What are intangible expenses in a maritime injury case?

You can also recover compensation for intangible expenses like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of hobbies and interests due to disability.

What compensation can surviving family members receive in a maritime accident case?

Additional benefits may apply for family members, particularly if you have lost a loved one in a maritime accident:

  • Loss of consortium for spouses
  • Loss of companionship for spouses and children
  • Loss of income for dependents
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

How is pain and suffering calculated in maritime accidents?

Generally speaking, attorneys and insurance companies may use one of two methods to calculate “pain and suffering” value.

  • They may multiply your actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a multiplier between 1 and 5, depending on the severity and permanence of the injury. So if you suffered a broken bone that incurred $3,000 in medical bills, it may be multiplied by three to calculate $9,000 for pain and suffering.
  • Another method of calculating pain and suffering involves a “per diem” approach that assigns a certain amount (say $100) for every day from the date of the accident to the plaintiff reaches maximum recovery.

How are punitive damages calculated for maritime accidents?

Punitive damages are rare in a personal injury case, but they may be applied when the other party involved was intentionally negligent or malicious. Often, these punitive damages are what brings the total amount of a maritime accident settlement up into the millions of dollars.

There are no hard, fast rules on how punitive damages are calculated, but we commonly see that it’s double or triple the compensatory damages awarded. So, for instance, if you receive $10,000 in damages, the Defendant may be ordered to pay $20,000 to $30,000 in punitive damages.

In the State of Louisiana, punitive damages cannot exceed the compensatory damages awarded to the Plaintiff by a factor of 10. So if you were awarded $10,000, the maximum punitive damages is $100,000.

A Noteworthy Maritime Settlement

In the landmark case of Ron Warren vs. Teleflex, a jury in Louisiana awarded $23 million in punitive damages to a man whose son was killed in a Prien Lake boating accident. The jury found Teleflex negligent in the design and safety testing of their boat steering system, with 15 years of internal testing showing the problems that could arise with a hydraulic fluid leak. Bart Bernard served as the plaintiff’s counsel in this case.

Contact A Maritime Accident Attorney

Contact Louisiana maritime accident attorney Bart Bernard for the highest level of legal representation. His experience in offshore oil rig and boating accident law will help you obtain the maximum recovery for your injuries.

Additional Resources on Valuing Maritime Accident Cases:

  1. EHow – How insurance companies calculate pain and suffering,
  2. Propeller Safety, $23 million Circle of Death propeller accident verdict upheld,

6 Types of Offshore Oil Rig Accidents

April 4, 2018 Maritime 0 Comments

Bart Bernard Maritime AccidentLarge offshore oil rigs can be extremely dangerous places for workers. We have only to think of the Deepwater Horizon accident and spill in 2010, which killed 11 people and is etched on American history as one of the worst industrial accidents ever, to realize how catastrophic these events can be.

What are the most common types of accidents on offshore oil rigs? According to the United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), 428 injuries were reported on offshore oil rigs during 2017.

Most Common Types of Oil Rig Accidents

Here are the 6 most common causes of offshore oil rig accidents:

  1. Lifting problems (126 out of the 428 incidents in 2017)
  2. Fires and explosions (73 incidents in 2017)
  3. Evacuations and musters (53 incidents last year)
  4. Release of gas (16 incidents in 2017)
  5. Collisions (11 incidents in 2017)
  6. Loss of well control (2 accidents in 2016)

In early December, the BSEE reported a fatality onboard the Petrobras 10,000 due to a worker being trapped between the loading platform of a skate and a stanchion.

Unfortunately, these accidents can cause injuries ranging from disfigurement to broken bones. Many of them could have been prevented.

Both the Federal and state governments have compensation plans to reimburse workers for medical bills and time off from work due to an accident. But sometimes the compensation offered to injured oil rig workers isn’t enough to cover medical bills and other expenses stemming from the accident. If you’re struggling to recover financially after a drilling rig injury, or if you suspect negligence was a contributing factory to your injury, contact Louisiana offshore oil rig accident attorney Bart Bernard.

Bart will fight with you every step of the way for fair compensation for damages such as economic loss, retraining if you can no longer work at your old occupation, as well as pain and suffering, especially if negligence played a role in your accident.

Speak Today with a Louisiana Offshore Oil Rig Accident Lawyer

Accidents and fatalities on an offshore oil rig can be followed by months of navigating a complicated set of benefits, determining what actually happened and who was a fault, and even job loss. Louisiana offshore oil rig accident lawyer Bart Bernard can help ensure that your claim is fully investigated, that any negligence on the part of other parties is brought to light, and that you receive just compensation under the law. Call today for a free, no-obligation case review!

Additional Resources:

  1. 12 Types of Maritime Accidents. Marine Insight.
  2. United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Stats & Facts. Offshore Incident Statistics.
  3. United States Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety Hazards Associated with Oil and Gas Extraction Activities.
  4. United States Department of Environmental Protection (EPA). Deepwater Horizon – BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

One of the 5 Most Dangerous Jobs May Surprise You

December 19, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

commercial fishingEvery job comes with risks, but some are inherently more dangerous than others. Desk jockeys may be more prone to suffering cardiovascular problems, tension headaches and poor circulation, but some professions are considered downright hazardous when it comes to workplace accidents and fatalities. Jobs that involve extreme weather, grueling hours, heavy equipment, toxic chemicals and harsh environments increase the danger level by a few notches.

According to the most recent statistics available from the United States Department of Labor, there were 4,836 work-related deaths in 2015, not including those who died while serving in the armed forces. Certain industries dominated the list for most fatal workplace accidents, and the lion’s share of these jobs are performed by men.

Here’s a look at some of the most dangerous professions today.


Statistically speaking, logging is the most hazardous industry in the United States with a fatal accident rate of 132 per 100,000 workers. To put this in context, logging is nearly 40 times more dangerous than the average job. Experts say that one of the biggest dangers faced by workers is hidden tree limbs and branches that can suddenly topple.

Commercial fishing

Falls overboard and vessel malfunctions/sinkings are the primary dangers to commercial fisherman. The industry’s fatality rate is 29 times greater than the national average, according to a recent analysis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than half of all commercial fishing deaths are a result of a “vessel disaster.” The number of deaths has been steadily increasing over the years, to a staggering 127 per 100,000 workers.

Pilots and aircraft engineers

Charged with operating and repairing planes, helicopters and other aircraft, pilots and flight engineers are exposed to numerous hazards. Crashes and other dangers set the stage for a high fatality rate of  40 per 100,000 workers.

Sanitation workers

Maybe the biggest surprise on the list of most dangerous jobs is “sanitation worker”. Sanitation workers deal with unwieldy hazardous materials on a daily basis, as they collect, compress and transport refuse and recyclables. This occupation is another dangerous profession with approximately 39 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Offshore drilling

Offshore rig workers are seven times more likely to be killed on the job than those employed in other professions, reports the CDC. Many drilling operations take place in remote locales with rough seas and harsh conditions that make it challenging for emergency evacuations. Offshore rig workers often suffer catastrophic injuries from fires, machinery malfunctions and explosions.

Maritime accident attorney in Louisiana

If you were seriously harmed or lost someone you love in an oil rig or commercial fishing accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation for mental anguish, lost wages, physical disability, loss of future earnings and medical costs. Maritime accidents and related injuries are governed by a unique set of regulations and laws. Bart Bernard is an experienced offshore injury lawyer serving the Lafayette and Baton Rouge communities who can outline your rights to legal damages. When you are saddled with medical bills and life-changing injuries, you need to focus on your recovery, not the litigation process.

For a free consultation and case evaluation with a Louisiana attorney who specializes in maritime law, please call our law offices today.

Additional Resources on Dangerous Jobs:

  1. Forbes, America’s Deadliest Jobs
  2. CNBC, The 10 most dangerous jobs for men
  3. Ranker, The Most Dangerous Jobs in America

Commercial Fishing in Louisiana: A Dangerous Business

November 9, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

commercial fishingLouisiana is home to many commercial fishermen. Fishing, from shrimp boats to oystering to catching snapper and grouper, is highly important to the economy of the state. But it’s also highly dangerous for the men and women who do it.

Fatality Rates for Commercial Fisherman: 29 Times Higher than the National Average

In fact, the death rate on the job for commercial fisherman is an astounding 29 times higher than the average of occupational-related deaths across the country.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an arm of the United States government, ranks commercial fishing as among the most hazardous occupations in the country.

In the most recent U.S. report, the greatest threats to the life and safety of commercial fisherman in 2015 were vessel disasters, falls overboard, and machinery that was on the deck.

In Louisiana alone, the occupational category that includes fishing had the highest fatal injury rate of any occupational category in 2015. It was 27.9. In comparison, the average fatal injury rate among all occupations in our state was only 5.8. In other words, it’s more than 4 times as high for fishing.

Hazardous Conditions Contribute to Fisherman Fatalities

Commercial fishermen work in hazardous conditions, with harsh and even violent weather and long hours. They face slippery surfaces. The manual labor involved is hard. They are often alone. Deaths from falls overboard, for example, often occur when the fisherman is the only person in the vessel or the only person on deck.

From those conditions come seafood eaten across the United States. Nearly 10 billion pounds of seafood were caught or trapped across the country in 2015. The industry as a whole earned more than $5.2 billion, employing 115,000 people.

But the seafood comes at a price. In the 15 years from 2000 to 2015, an average of 42 fatalities occurred among commercial fishermen every year nationwide. That’s an average of 117 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 4 per 100,000 workers for deaths from all occupations.

Nationwide, nearly half of commercial fishing deaths occur after a vessel disaster, with another 30% from falls overboard. Twelve percent of fatalities are caused from onboard injuries, and 9% occur as a result of diving or onshore injuries.

In the Gulf of Mexico states alone, the shrimp fleet was responsible for half of all deaths in the period.

Injured? Contact an Experienced Louisiana Maritime Attorney

In Louisiana, we love our waterways. They are central to Louisiana identity and life. But if you work in commercial fishing and have been injured, or a loved one has been injured or killed while engaged in commercial fishing, know that there is help for you and that justice is not out of reach.

Our maritime attorneys have dedicated themselves to the rights of commercial fishing boat workers. Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We assist both people who are residents of our communities and out-of-state residents who need advice on Louisiana maritime law.

Our initial consultation on your case is free. Call today to speak with a Lafayette or Baton Rouge commercial fishing boat accident lawyer and learn about your legal options for monetary compensation.

More On the Dangers of Commercial Fishing:

  1. Fisk Marine Insurance International. Did You Know Commercial Fishing Is the Most Dangerous Job in the U.S.?
  2. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities. Fatal Occupational Injury Rates by Industry, 2015, Louisiana.
  3. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Workplace Safety and Health Topics. Commercial Fishing Safety.

Boating Under the Influence in Louisiana: Risks and Penalties

November 3, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

Small motorboat docking at the marina with sunsetWe all love a pleasant day out on Bayou State waters. Despite the freedom you feel in the open waters, it’s important to obey maritime law and avoid operating a boat while drinking. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boat accidents – even greater than operator inattention, driver inexperience, improper lookout, speeding, and machinery failure.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported:

  • Last year, alcohol directly contributed to 282 accidents, 264 injuries, and 87 deaths.
  • More Americans died in boating accidents than any time in the past five years.
  • There were 701 boating fatalities in 2016 – up 12 percent from the previous year.
  • The number of non-fatal injuries increased 11 percent as well.

Locally, there have been over 53 Louisiana boating accidents, resulting in 27 serious injuries and 10 fatalities in 2017, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in June. In 2015, there were 113 Louisiana boat crashes, resulting in 62 injuries and 19 fatalities.

Boating under the influence is no joke in our state. Many boaters do not realize that the penalties are even stiffer for boating DWIs/DUIs than for driving.

What is considered boating under the influence in Louisiana?

Louisiana law prohibits anyone from operating a water vessel with:

  • A Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08% or greater (21+).
  • A Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.02% or greater (under 21).

The law also punishes the vessel’s owner (or the person in charge of the vessel) from knowingly allowing an intoxicated person to operate the vessel. Anyone who is boating on Louisiana waters gives consent to be tested for alcohol or drugs if arrested by law enforcement personnel.

What are the penalties for boating under the influence of alcohol?

Operating a Louisiana vessel while intoxicated or under the influence includes a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment up to six months, or both. Arrests for boating DUI/DWI can result in suspension or revocation of boating AND motor vehicle licenses. That is simply for the charge of “boating under the influence.”

Often, the charges pile up in these cases. For instance, a Texas man faced five charges in a Louisiana DWI boating accident that killed an 8-year-old boy in a southwest Louisiana river. If convicted, he would face five to 30 years in prison with hard labor and a fines of $2,000 to $15,000.

Hazards of boating under the influence include serious injury

Boating injuries include:

  • Drowning Deaths
  • Lacerations, Scrapes & Bruises
  • Amputations
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Bone Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Electric Shocks
  • Hypothermia & Shock
  • Internal Organ Injuries
  • Concussions
  • Burns & Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Ligament Tears, Sprains & Strains
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

For the best boat accident attorney Lafayette has to offer, contact Bart Bernard

If you’ve been involved in a serious boat accident, contact Bart Bernard, the experienced boat accident attorney Louisiana residents trust. Recently, Bart Bernard secured an award of $23 million for a client seriously injured in a local boating accident. While past results are no guarantee of future outcomes, it costs you nothing to call for a free case review. Legal representation is provided free of charge until a successful jury award or settlement offer is received.

Additional “Boating Under the Influence in LA” Resources:

  1. Louisiana Boat Education Handbook – Alcohol & Drugs,
  2. US News & World Report – Texas Boy, 8, Dead in Boating Accident, Texas Man Jailed,
  3. US Coast Guard – Recreational Boating Statistics 2016,

Hurricane Season Poses Dangers to Offshore Workers

September 12, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

Bart Bernard Maritime AccidentEvery day in the United States, an estimated 10,000 men and women wake up on a drilling rig or platform in the Gulf of Mexico, where they brave treacherous conditions to do their jobs. Beyond the day-to-day hazards of working on an offshore pipeline, vessel or drilling rig, maritime workers also face the dangers of tropical storms and cyclones, which can rip apart offshore structures, leaving employees at risk for serious injury and death.

3 offshore workers die after storm evacuation

According to federal officials, more than 75 percent of the 4,000 offshore platforms in the Gulf were in the direct path of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, which destroyed more than 100 structures, and damaged some 457 pipelines. Fast forward three years when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike decimated 60 gas and oil rig platforms.

In 2011, Tropical Storm Nate ripped through the Gulf disabling a 94-foot oil vessel, owned by Trinity Liftboat Services – a Louisiana company based in New Iberia.  Three oil workers died and one was missing after the men called for help and evacuated the vessel. Maritime casualties like these raise the question whether energy companies are taking necessary precautions to protect the safety of their workers with timely evacuations.

The oil and gas industry claim that better weather data and more rigorous design standards have greatly improved hurricane safety for offshore workers and structures. Nonetheless, a recent CDC study found that the fatality rate for offshore personnel is seven times higher than the U.S. average.

Energy giants say their priority is keeping offshore workers and structures safe — particularly as stronger storms become more commonplace.

The destructive winds and rains of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which caused billions of dollars in damage and claimed dozens of lives, underscore the reality that 2017 will be one of the most active hurricane seasons in years, as forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Offshore worker safety concerns for 2017 hurricane season

Has the gas and oil industry taken a proactive approach to addressing hurricane risks, having learned valuable lessons from massive storms like Katrina, Gustav and Ike? While companies certainly take steps to protect their workers from severe weather, critics still have many concerns. Robert Bea, an engineering risk professor and former Shell employee, cautions that energy companies often put profits before safety.

Experts say the oil industry is simply reacting to storms, instead of preparing for them. When hurricanes threaten operations in the Gulf, it’s up to the companies to decide when to shut down and evacuate staff.  “Companies under financial pressure are more likely to take safety risks,” said Bea, “It’s called waiting for the next failure.”

Under Maritime Admiralty Law, offshore employers must take reasonable care in the evacuation of its workers during dangerous weather. A failure to fulfill this duty exposes companies to liability should injury or death result. With the 2017 hurricane season underway, and stronger storms forecast, offshore worker safety remains a paramount concern for many.

Bart Bernard – Louisiana offshore oil rig accident attorney

When hurricane evacuations are delayed to keep platform operations running, maritime workers are needlessly placed in harm’s way. Contact Louisiana offshore oil rig accident lawyer Bart Bernard if you or someone you love sustains serious or fatal injuries in a maritime accident. To schedule a free legal consultation in Lafayette or Baton Rouge, please call today!

Call me first. Click me first.

Additional “offshore oil rig injury” resources:

  1. ISHN, Ten years later: Oil rig safety lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina
  2. NBC News, Three Oil Workers Die After Evacuating Rig in Storm
  3. NOLA, Offshore oil and gas industry adapts, but risks remain 10 years after Katrina

Four Worst Offshore Oil Rig Disasters

June 23, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

oil rig offshoreWhen accidents happen on offshore oil rigs, they can happen quickly and without warning. The loss of life and injuries can be disastrous. Explosions, fires, and even drowning in the ocean waters threatens workers on the rigs.

The Piper Alpha, 1988

Just look at the worst oil rig disaster in history, the Piper Alpha disaster in Britain’s North Sea. It occurred in July 1988, and killed 167 rig workers.

It began with leaking gas from a platform pipe. Routine maintenance had caused a pressure safety value to be taken off earlier in the day. At shift change, maintenance was not complete and the incoming crew was supposed to have been informed not to turn on one of the affected pumps.

However, they were not informed. It was turned on when another pump tripped. A series of explosions hit the platform as gas caught on fire. The platform was completely destroyed. Fighting the fire took 3 weeks.

The Alexander L. Kielland, 1980

The Alexander L. Kielland, a semi-submersible platform for the workers on the Edda oil rig in Norway, capsized in March 1980. One hundred and twenty-three workers were killed, most due to drowning.

The Deepwater Horizon, 2010

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and ensuing fire on the semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon caused the death of 11 workers and injury to 17 more. The Deepwater Horizon was roughly 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Transocean owned and operated the unit. It was drilling oil for BP.

The accident also caused the biggest worldwide marine oil spill to date. It is considered the most significant environmental disaster in the history of the U.S.

The Abkatun Permanente, 2015

In August 2015, 4 workers were killed and 45 injured on the Abkatun Permanente platform due to an explosion and subsequent fire. The platform, in the Gulf of Mexico, was run by Pemex, the state-run Mexican oil company.

If you’ve been injured on an oil rig

People who have been injured on an offshore oil rig may be able to bring a lawsuit against the company or its contractors for negligence. If there were harmful or dangerous conditions or practices, or rules and regulations weren’t followed properly, and it can be shown that the company or its contractors knew or should have known about the conditions and did nothing to rectify them, you may be eligible to collect damages for negligence.

Plaintiffs may seek damages for expenses related to medical treatment, physical therapy, medications needed, lost wages due to recovery time, or training if the injured party requires a new line of work. A suit can also cover claims for pain and suffering.

If an oil rig accident has caused fatalities, the deceased person’s family can bring a suit for wrongful death. Family members can bring a lawsuit for the pain and suffering, as well as medical treatment, physical therapy, medications, and lost wages of the deceased. 

When you need an experienced attorney

If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in an offshore oil rig disaster, we are here to help. We are experienced in maritime law and offshore oil rig cases. The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers maintains two Louisiana offices, one in Baton Rouge and one in Lafayette. Our clients include locals and those from out of state who need advice from an experienced maritime attorney in Louisiana.

For a free consultation with a Louisiana oil rig accident attorney, call or contact me online today.

Additional “biggest oil rig disasters” resources:

  1. Mohney, Gillian. “Oil Rig Explosion Kills 4 in Gulf of Mexico, No Spill Reported.” ABC News. August 1, 2015.
  2. The World’s Worst Offshore Oil Disasters.