A roughneck hurt on an offshore platform suffers permanent disabilities from a brachial plexus injury. Through Louisiana’s Direct Action Statute, we were able to win a fair Jones Act settlement against his bankrupt company.
We recently won a Jones Act settlement for a 34-year-old roughneck injured on a platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
In December 2014, our client was working the night shift and laying pipe when the 4-part shackle connecting the single joint elevator to the air hoist came apart. As a result, the joint of pipe fell and struck our client, knocking him unconscious. His company took him to the hospital where he stayed for several days after his accident.
Because of his accident, he suffered permanent damage to his dominant shoulder and arm. His diagnosis: a brachial plexus injury. The accident stretched the nerves in his shoulder to such a degree that it was beyond repair. After the accident, he had to have multiple surgeries on his shoulder. By the end of it all, he had a plate and screws in his left shoulder, had serious nerve damage and couldn’t even lift his arm above shoulder level.
A few months after his accident, he took a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE); the results were not good. He had only one fully functioning arm. His dominant arm had only about 40% of its original functionality. In other words, his injuries drastically restricted what he could do. He had to learn how to use his non-dominant hand for even the simplest of tasks. Unfortunately, the doctor explained that our client could not continue working in the oil and gas industry.
Additionally, our economist estimated that our client would be limited to earning close to minimum wage as a result of his injury. This forced him to lose out on millions of dollars worth of future wages and benefits. His career as a roughneck ended the day of his accident.
As a result, he came to us looking for options. His company had recently filed for bankruptcy. Often maritime workers are concerned that they will not be able to receive any kind of compensation if their company is going bankrupt.
However, Louisiana has a “Direct Action Statute.” This allows you to file a suit against your employer’s insurance company directly. With this statute, you can still receive compensation for your accident at work. Because of this statute, we were able to file a Jones Act injury claim in the eastern district of Louisiana. Then we began our work getting him the money he’d need to sustain his future.
The case was relatively cut and dry. We were able to prove that the company was at fault for our client’s accident. The company tried to fight the case, of course. However, their only defense was to argue that our client was faking or exaggerating his injuries.
For instance, they provided video surveillance of our client lifting an ice chest. Our doctors’ FCE showed that this movement was well within our client’s limitations. In short, the company’s defense ultimately failed and we were able to recover a 7-figure settlement for our client.
Relevant laws and statutes