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Slip and Fall Accidents Offshore: What Are Your Rights When You Fall On-Deck?

Whether you are a captain, seaman, deckhand, chief engineer, or any other type of maritime professional, you may be entitled to compensation if you were injured as a result of a slip and fall accident. Damages for your injuries may be addressed through a maritime accident claim.

Maritime Accident Claim Stemming from a Slip and Fall

One of the more common causes of a slip-and-fall accident occurs on deck. If the conditions are slippery or there are hazards in the way, serious injuries can result. The deck and other areas can be slippery as a result of oil, fish slime, hydraulic spills, leaks, and other dangerous conditions. However, this can be prevented by ensuring there is immediate cleanup when a hazardous condition is realized.

Other ways a slip can be prevented include installing grip bars and non-slip surfaces. The owner of the boat or the employer has an obligation to ensure the safety of their workers by taking appropriate measures to protect them.

Slips can also occur when lines or lift equipment must be pulled. If you are placed in an unsafe position or the object is too heavy, you could lose your footing. This type of situation could be avoided by ensuring loads are not unreasonably heavy and there is enough assistance onboard to help. Otherwise, the negligence of the employer can be proven.

Falls can occur when equipment is defective, there is debris, or objects are unexpectedly in the way. Injuries suffered from either a slip or fall could lead to you seeking damages through a maritime accident claim.

Hazards That May Cause a Slip-and-Fall Ship Accident

The walkways, ladders, and platforms on a shipping vessel should be kept clean, reinforced with non-slip materials, and kept in good condition to prevent a slip-and-fall accident. When your employer is negligent in protecting your safety by not taking these precautions, you may suffer a serious slip-and-fall injury.

Some of the hazards that could lead to a serious slip-and-fall injury include: 

  • poor weather (icy surfaces, hail, rain, high winds)
  • uneven surfaces
  • broken or damaged ladders or scaffolding
  • slick surfaces without grip materials
  • debris on walkways


Most (if not all) of these conditions can be managed with proper safety measures by your employer. When your employer neglects to provide you with a safe work environment as determined by the Jones Act, you may be able to file an injury claim if you are involved in a slip-and-fall accident.

Common Injuries from a Slip-and-Fall Ship Accident

A shipping seaman is at risk for several types of ship accident injuries, and one of the most common causes is a slip-and-fall accident. The types of injuries that can occur in a slip-and-fall ship accident can result in partial or permanent disability, costly medical expenses, and other damages. You have the right to seek compensation and benefits from your employer under the Jones Act, and a Louisiana maritime attorney can help.

Some of the most common types of injuries from a slip-and-fall ship accident include: 

  • Herniated discs
  • Nerve damage
  • Head trauma
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Soft tissue damages
  • Paralysis (including quadriplegia and paraplegia)
  • Neck injury
  • Internal injuries
  • Death


Many of these serious injuries could leave a shipping employee unable to work for weeks, months, or even permanently.

Consequences of Injuries from a Slip-and-Fall Accident

Soft tissue damage and herniated discs may be able to heal over time with surgery and therapy but often result in loss of range of motion or chronic pain. Nerve damage and injury to the brain or spinal cord can cause permanent impairment such as paralysis or mental disability.

These types of serious or long-term damages have the potential to end a shipping employee’s career. A Louisiana maritime attorney can work with you and your physicians to determine your long-term prognosis as evidence for your Jones Act claim settlement.

Over time, treatment and recovery for these injuries not only can cause you to lose income due to your inability to work, but also result in ongoing medical costs. These are damages that you should not have to deal with on your own, and with the help of a Louisiana maritime attorney, you may be able to seek compensation and benefits under the Jones Act.

If you are injured in an offshore slip-and-fall accident, you should seek immediate medical attention – even if you are not sure if you have been injured. Some injuries, especially head injuries and internal injuries, may not be obvious at the time of the accident. Getting prompt medical treatment protects both your health and your rights. A medical exam ensures that there is a record of your injuries to support any claim you make for maintenance and cure, or – if your injury was caused by negligence – Jones Act damages.

Offshore workers are entitled to safe working conditions. It may seem that slips and falls at sea are inevitable, but this is not the case. Vessel owners must do whatever is necessary to ensure a safe workplace and minimize the chances of a slip-and-fall accident on the vessel. The vessel owner must strive to prevent slippery conditions on the deck with non-slip surfaces, provide proper storage for equipment so it does not become a trip hazard, and provide the crew with proper safety training. The vessel owner can be held liable if they were aware of the dangerous condition aboard the vessel, or should have been aware of it, and did nothing to make the area safer for employees. Under the Jones Act, injured seamen have the right to sue vessel owners and other responsible parties if negligence was involved in their injury or if the vessel was unseaworthy.

How can shipowners prevent slips and falls?

  1. Keep work areas clean and clutter-free. Train crew to properly stow all unused equipment.
  2. Make sure work areas are well-lit.
  3. Make sure stairways have handrails and slip-resistant surfacing. Use high visibility markings on the front edges of steps.
  4. Ensure that all spills are cleaned immediately and that proper warnings are posted.
  5. Avoid stringing cables across work areas. Affix cables so they do not pose a tripping hazard.
  6. Require proper footwear.
  7. Use non-skid or non-slip coatings or surfaces on deck surfaces and maintain the surfaces so they do not cause a trip hazard.

How Can You Prevent Offshore Slip-and-Fall Injuries?

  1. Pay attention to the flooring where you are working and walking.
  2. Keep floors and other walking and working surfaces free of debris, clutter, water, grease and other slippery substances.
  3. Clean up spills as soon as they occur.

What Can You Do if You Are Seriously Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident While Working at Sea?

  1. Get a medical exam and follow your doctor’s orders.
  2. Fill out an accident report.
  3. Contact The Young Firm.

Get Help With Your Offshore Slip-and-Fall Accidents

As an injured seaman, you have rights, and you should be compensated for your injuries. The Louisiana maritime injury attorneys at The Young Firm can help you protect your Jones Act rights. Contact our Jones Act attorneys at 504-680-4100to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Prior Lawsuits Set a Precedent for Offshore Slip and Fall AccidentsMadison v. Hercules Drilling Company

A seaman is seeking $1.5 million in damages after being seriously injured in an offshore slip and fall accident. The Jones Act lawsuit was filed on March 23 in federal court in New Orleans.

The maritime accident occurred on July 25, 2010. Jeremy Madison was working aboard the Liftboat Tilapia, a vessel owned by the Hercules Drilling Company. At the time of the accident, Madison was ordered to leave the ship and go to the dock in order to strap a steel drum to the vessel’s crane. As Madison tried to cross from the vessel to the dock, he slipped and fell into the water.

Madison claims that the distance from the vessel to the dock was too far to cross safely and that he sustained neck and back injuries as a result of his fall. He is accusing Hercules Drilling Company of failing to provide a proper gangway for crew members and of causing his injuries through negligence.

Madison is seeking $1.5 million in damages, including compensation for his medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, maintenance and cure, punitive damages, and penalties, attorney’s fees, court costs and interest.

Peyton v. Offshore Liftboats

An injured seaman is filing a Jones Act lawsuit against his employer for not providing a safe place to work.

Daryl Lamond Peyton was injured on deck when he fell on December 17, 2010, after slipping in spilled hydraulic fluid. Peyton was employed by Offshore Liftboats at the time. He was working on the leg tower of the vessel when the accident occurred. Peyton was using a ladder and as he descended from the ladder, the seaman slipped in some hydraulic fluid that was spilled on the deck.

Slip and falls are common causes of offshore injuries, so ship owners are required to minimize the risk of these types of accidents.

Offshore Liftboats is accused of negligence for failing to provide a safe place to work and for the unseaworthy condition of the vessel. The company is also accused of breaching its absolute duty to provide Peyton with maintenance and cure.

Peyton is seeking Jones Act damages for medical costs, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, physical disfigurement, lost earnings and maintenance and cure. He is also seeking compensation for attorney’s fees, interest and court costs.

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 12 in federal court in New Orleans.

More Slip and Fall Maritime Lawsuits

Four Jones Act lawsuits have been filed recently by Gulf of Mexico seamen who were injured offshore in slip and fall accidents.

Wayne David Charles Marshall

A ship’s cook has filed a lawsuit against his employer after sustaining a serious injury when he tripped and fell while at work. The accident occurred on August 7. Wayne David Charles Marshall was working as a cook aboard the M/V Bertha D, a vessel owned and operated by Supreme Offshore Services Inc. Marshall walked out of a cooler and tripped. In the lawsuit the vessel owner is accused of negligence for failing to provide a safe place to work, failing to warn of the dangerous and unsafe conditions, failing to properly maintain and repair the vessel and breach of legally imposed duties of reasonable care owed to Marshall. The seaman is seeking damages for medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, disability, attorney’s fees, interest and court costs.

Leroy Blue

Another seaman has filed a lawsuit against his Omega Protein Corp. F/V Anna and F/V Grand Batture for failing to properly supervise the crew after he was injured when he tripped over an oar. Leroy Blue was injured on June 1, 2010, as he was attempting to move about in rough water. He fell over an oar that was not properly secured and sustained severe and permanent injuries to his back, head, neck and legs. In his lawsuit, Blue accuses his employer of failing to properly supervise the crew, failing to properly train their employees, failing to provide adequate safety equipment, failing to safely operate their vessel, and operating the vessel with an inadequate crew.  He is seeking damages for physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, medical expenses, maintenance and cure, punitive damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Kentrell Wright

A third seaman is suing for $2 million for injuries sustained when he fell on a vessel’s stairway. Kentrell Wright, a rigger vessel D/B Crossmar 14, has filed a lawsuit against Cross Logistics Inc. and Cross Group Inc. for an accident that occurred on Oct. 12, 2009. Wright was using the vessel’s stairway when a metal plate on the stair tread came loose and gave way.   Wright is suing for loss of wages and benefits, impairment of future earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional pain and suffering, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, interest, court costs, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, maintenance and cure.

David Velasquez

Another seaman filed a lawsuit against his employer after he slipped on non-skid paint and fell.  David Velasquez’s lawsuit against Gulf Offshore Logistics seeks compensation for a slip and fall incident that occurred on May 9. Velasquez was working on the deck of the M/V Jason when he fell because of non-skid paint on the metal covers located on the deck. He suffered debilitating injuries to his lower back and neck.  His employer is accused of failing to recognize the dangerous circumstances surrounding the task, failing to properly train the crew and failing to provide functioning equipment and a safe place to work. Velasquez is seeking general damages for physical and mental pain, suffering, permanent disability and disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, loss of wages and wage-earning capacity, interest and court costs.

Each of these accidents could have been prevented. Instead, hard-working seamen were seriously injured and their lives changed forever because of unseaworthiness, poor maintenance, improper training or an inadequate crew.

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