Seacor Power Capsize Disaster Injury Lawyers

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In the afternoon of Tuesday, April 13th, the SEACOR Power commercial lift-boat capsized during severe weather conditions, about 8 miles off the coast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Nineteen employees and contractors were on board. The disaster left six crew members dead, and seven still missing. Six others have been rescued and transported to safety. After six days of searching more than 9,200 square nautical miles, the U.S. Coast Guard announced on Monday, April 19th, that it was suspending its rescue operations.

Photo: US Coast Guard
Photo: US Coast Guard

“Our crews searched continuously over the past six days with the hope of bringing the missing crewmembers home to their loved ones.”

Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson, commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.

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What Caused the SEACOR Power Lift-Boat to Capsize?

A severe weather warning for coastal waters around Port Fourchon, Louisiana, was issued by the National Weather Service around 3:57PM on Tuesday, April 13th. The National Weather Service office stated that the severe weather appears to be linked to a “wake low,” a small-scale zone of low pressure that can develop behind a thunderstorm. This phenomenon caused waves to soar up to 9ft and winds to reach 90mph.

The 180-ft vessel, owned by Houston-based SEACOR Marine, was used in offshore oil and gas exploration and could carry more than 40,000 gallons of fuel oil. Lift-boats are vessels supported by legs used to stabilize the platform to the seafloor while work is performed. When their legs are up in transit, lift-boats are top-heavy and not designed to withstand rough seas.

The National Transportation Safety Board has suggested that its investigation of the tragedy could take one to two years. Talos Energy Inc., the company that contracted the SEACOR Power lift-boat to perform work on one of its platforms, claims no involvement in the decision for the vessel to leave port.

John Gellert, CEO of Seacor Marine Holdings Inc., Gellert declined to comment on communications that led to the decision to depart. Gellert confirmed that a leg of the vessel remained partially extended about five feet out of the water, suggesting that the captain attempted to restabilize its legs on the seafloor.

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The experienced maritime law attorneys at Williams Hart expect SEACOR Marine to mount a defense under the Limitation of Shipholders’ Liability Act, which would allow the vessel owner to limit the rights and remedies available to the victims and their families.

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Maritime Law and Offshore Worker Protections

The Jones Act.

The Jones Act protects injured sailors. The law defines these individuals as people who spend at least 30 percent of their time onboard and contribute to the voyage’s success in a meaningful way. This broad definition applies to most onboard workers, except for executives performing inspection tours. Furthermore, the Jones Act applies to navigable vessels, meaning the law does not typically apply to sailors hurt on a dock or anyone injured on an offshore oil platform. 

Death on the High Seas Act.

In fatal injury situations, the Death on the High Seas Act provides financial recompensing to the families of those shipmen who died while being in the active line of duty. Under maritime law, this act applies to any death on the high seas occurring beyond a distance of three miles from the United States seashore. To come under the jurisdiction of the DOHSA, the owner and operator of the ship must meet charges of negligence or unlawful actions.

    Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

    As for injuries on non-navigable ships, such as oil platforms, the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, much like state workers’ compensation programs, usually applies. It provides compensation to employees disabled from on-the-job injuries that occur on the United States’ navigable waters or in adjoining areas of the maintenance of a vessel. The LHWCA also provides survivor benefits to dependents if the work injury causes or contributes to the employee’s death.

    Recovering from a Tragedy

    While no amount of money can make up for the loss or serious injury of a loved one, victims of an offshore accident have options in pursuing compensation. Much like a personal injury claim, injured sailors or bereaved family members are entitled to payment for all losses related to the offshore injury or fatality, such as:

    • Lost wages, including past, current, and future lost income,
    • Medical bills, including transportation and other necessary costs,
    • The value of lost fringe benefits, such as health insurance and 401(k) contributions, and
    • Noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.

    Unlike personal injury claims, the victim need not prove shipowner negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Instead, injured sailors must only prove causation. If there is any connection between the injury and negligence, the victim is entitled to compensation.

    How We Can Help You Recover

    If you or a loved one were a victim of the Seacor Power capsize disaster, our legal team is ready to fight for the justice you deserve. Williams Hart represents individuals and families in wrongful death and injury cases involving maritime vessels and offshore oil rigs

    Too often massive corporations escape accountability for their negligence. Many victims are left to face mounting hospital expenses, long-term medical care, and loss of income and quality of life with where to turn. When you hire us, you’ll receive the knowledge and resources it takes to hold them accountable. 

    Do not sign an agreement or settlement with any insurance representative of the company, your employer, or any other corporation until you contact one of our experienced maritime accident lawyers. Contact us to schedule your confidential and free legal consultation.

    Learn More About Maritime Law

    What is the Jones Act?

    What is the Jones Act?

    The Jones Act, officially called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that sets several rules regarding the operation of marine vessels in United States waters. In addition, the Jones Act incorporates the rights of maritime workers after an injury...

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