Earlier this spring, a Louisiana court awarded close to $200,000 in damages to a man injured while repairing a stern line in 2017. The plaintiff, Andrew Lee Knight, sued his former employer, Kirby Offshore Marine, LLC, for negligence under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness under general maritime law, according to the Louisiana Record. The original calculation of damages was nearly double Knight’s final award, but the court found Knight’s own negligence also contributed to the accident.
Employer found negligent under the Jones Act
Knight’s recovery hinged on the negligence claim made against his employer under the Jones Act. While working on the M/V SEA HAWK, Knight’s employer ordered him to replace a ripped stern line in a storm. However, the day Knight performed the repair winds were blowing at about 20 miles per hour. While completing the repair, Knight stepped on the damaged line, rolling his ankle – an injury that would eventually require surgery.
The court found Kirby Offshore Marine was negligent in sending Knight to perform the repair under those wind conditions. However, other factors put a damper on his recovery.
How contributory negligence impacts someone’s recovery
Knight’s damages (his medical bills and economic loss due to the injury) initially totaled $343,618. However, the court found that Knight could have been more careful while repairing the stern line. Under Louisiana’s comparative negligence rules, that meant Knight’s damages had to be reduced by the percentage of fault the court assigned to his actions. Since they found Knight was equally negligent, his recovery was cut in half.
Over 30,000 people in Louisiana work in offshore jobs. When maritime workers are injured, they rely on experienced admiralty lawyers to help the recover.