In re Matocha is a case filed in Lake Charles federal court. It brings up the question of what conditions are ‘open and obvious’ in admiralty claims. See how the personal injury case developed.
Mr. Blanco’s Personal Injury Case
Michael Blanco is a Jones Act seaman who worked aboard the fishing vessel LOUISIANA LIMITS. He slipped on mud that was covering the deck and suffered a collapsed lung and a tear in his aorta. He brought claims against the vessel owner to recover damages for his injuries.
Seamen are protected by the ‘trinity of remedies’ as they get exposed to the perils of the sea. However, vessel owners may build up their defenses around what they state are ‘open and obvious’ conditions, as did Mr. Blanco’s employer by asking the court to dismiss his claims.
The ‘Open and Obvious’ Conditions Dispute
The vessel employer contended the muddy condition of the deck was open and obvious. They stated that Blanco knew that water and fish slime would accumulate on the deck in the natural course of fishing, so he should mop up any slippery conditions with towels that were on board the vessel. Were they right?
The Court refused to dismiss the seaman’s claims. Mr.Blanco’s case serves as a good example to remember a few points:
- vessel employers will always try to avoid liability
- Jones Act employers have certain duties, though
- slipping or tripping hazards aboard your vessel require legal advice
In the event of injury caused by a slipping or tripping hazard, your employer will claim they are not responsible for your injury. They’d say that you chose to encounter the ‘open and obvious condition’ and that you alone were responsible for remedying the hazard.
What should you do to protect your interest? Turn to an experienced maritime attorney who can counter such a defense.