It’s officially hurricane season, and seamen and other maritime workers need to take extra precautions. In fact, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that the 2017 hurricane season will be more active than normal.
While no hurricanes have formed yet, tropical storm Cindy recently made landfall in Louisiana before weakening into a tropical depression. The storm unleashed devastating winds and buckets of rain along the Gulf Coast, killing a 10-year-old boy on a beach in Alabama.
Hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, presents unique dangers for those who work on or around vessels. If maritime employers don’t prepare for these dangers and their employees are subsequently injured because of that negligence, then the employers might find themselves the subject of a Jones Act or other maritime law personal injury suit.
Merchant Mariners Killed by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015
For example, in 2015, the family of a cargo ship crewmember filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner and captain of the ship, after the vessel was overtaken by Hurricane Joaquin. The owner, captain and 32 others died when it lost engine power and was unable to avoid the Category 4 hurricane. The family alleges that the captain and owner were negligent in taking the ship into dangerous weather and that more safety precautions should have been taken.
If a court found that the captain and owner were negligent, it could order that their respective estates pay damages to the families of the victims under the Jones Act.
What Is the Difference Between a Tropical Storm and a Hurricane?
Meteorologists classify tropical activity according to the current strength of the storm. When thunderstorms develop in a low pressure area and produce a circular wind flow with maximum sustained winds below 39 miles per hour, that’s called a tropical depression. A tropical storm develops when the wind flows are between 39 and 73 miles per hour. A hurricane develops when the wind flows increase even more, and can rank between a Category 1 (at least 74 miles per hour) and a Category 5 (winds exceeding 156 miles per hour).
Keep in mind that the strength of a storm can wax and wane over its lifetime. A storm that starts out as a tropical depression can grow into a hurricane, and a hurricane that reaches peak strength can weaken back into a depression. But all storms, whether a tropical depression, a tropical storm or a hurricane, can be dangerous. Don’t underestimate a storm that has been “downgraded” from a hurricane to a tropical storm or a tropical storm to a tropical depression.
Contact Us Today
Contact Patrick Yancey Law Firm today if you are an injured seaman or have sustained any kind of offshore injury during a tropical depression, tropical storm, hurricane or any other type of weather event. We will help you pursue a personal injury lawsuit and help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for an initial consultation about your case.