When harbor workers are injured, they are often left wondering how to cover bills while recovering, since they don’t qualify for coverage under the Jones Act. The good news is that the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) requires your employer to prove workers’ comp benefits for you as well. If you developed an occupational disease due to exposure to harmful materials, or were physically injured in an accident at work, a maritime attorney can help you get the benefits you deserve.

Who Can Apply for Benefits Under the LHWCA in Louisiana

It’s crucial to know which maritime workers’ comp law applies to your situation, because seamen specifically can’t pursue compensation through the LHWCA. Other types of maritime employees besides sailors are likewise barred from recovering costs through the Jones Act. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act may cover you if you were hurt while working on:

  • Docks
  • Loading and unloading areas for vessels
  • Navigable waters of the U.S. or any adjoining areas
  • Piers
  • Terminals
  • Wharves

Benefits are available to injured workers engaged in repair, loading and unloading, or other dock activities but who don’t actually sail with the ship as crew. Even employees who aren’t specifically in a maritime position, such as a construction worker taking part in a job on a wharf, can potentially be covered.

As long as the injury occurred or the illness was developed on United States navigable waters, the LHWCA can potentially apply to:

  • Dock employees
  • Divers on repair or salvage operations
  • Longshore workers
  • Crane operators working on docks or ports
  • Harbor construction crews
  • Port workers
  • Shipbuilders and shipyard workers
  • Shipbreakers
  • Stevedores

What the LHWCA Covers and Why You Need an Attorney

Benefits are available if you suffer a temporary disability, so long as a doctor has stated you can’t return to work while recovering, or if you will have to work in a different position with less physical activity. The LHWCA also applies in situations of permanent disability if a doctor determines your condition is unlikely to ever improve. Survivors can additionally file a claim if a loved one died due to the injury. In any of these instances, the LHWCA specifically allows for benefits covering:

  • Lost income, typically up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage at the time of the injury
  • Medical costs
  • Vocational rehabilitation

Getting all of those benefits can be difficult on your own, however. A number of potential stumbling blocks may prevent you from receiving the full coverage you desperately need while unable to work. For instance, if you recently got a promotion, your employer’s insurance company may have a skewed calculation of your “average weekly wage,” since you would have earned more if you hadn’t been hurt.

Strict time limits are another concern to keep in mind. You must report the injury to your employer within 30 days, as well as file an Employee’s Claim for Compensation form to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs within one year. Failing to meet that timeline can cause you to lose out on benefits, even if you are permanently disabled by the injury.

Gathering all the required information to file the paperwork takes time, and there are, unfortunately, instances where employers aren’t interested in moving quickly to pay what you are owed. That’s why it’s important to have the assistance of an attorney to ensure the claim is made properly and to help you overcome problems during the process. In the event your claim is denied for any reason, a maritime attorney can also help you file an appeal with the Longshore Claims Examiner overseeing your case.

Protect Your Legal Rights After a Maritime Accident by Speaking With an Attorney

If you were hurt on the job, or a loved one passed away due to a maritime injury, talk to an experienced attorney to find out if you qualify for coverage and what steps you should take next to protect your financial recovery. You deserve the full benefits owed to you after the injury and our legal team wants to help you get back on your feet. Get in touch with the Scott Vicknair Law Firm today using our online form or call directly at (504) 500-1111.

Seeking recovery for a maritime injury can be tricky because there are different laws for different types of maritime workers. How your claim should be handled and the number of damages you are entitled to will largely depend on which law applies to your specific situation and classification.

For instance, if you are a “seaman,” which is a legal term of art, you may get to recover under the Jones Act, which is a federal statute that allows you to pursue certain damages, such as maintenance (a daily rate representing your basic living expenses) and cure (medical treatment until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement), lost wages, lost future earning capacity, future medical care, pain and suffering, and in some cases, punitive damages.

Before recovering under the Jones Act, however, we must determine whether you qualify as a seaman.

Preliminary qualifications that must be met before classifying an injured worker as a seaman:

  • Were you a crew member of a vessel at the time of your injury?
  • Did you spend at least 30% of your time aboard the vessel or a fleet of vessels?
  • Did your work contribute to the function of the vessel or the accomplishment of its mission?

Recently, the Courts also explored whether the injured worker owed allegiance to the vessel, rather than to a stateside employer, whether the work was sea-based, and whether the worker’s assignment to the vessel was for a limited task. If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you may qualify as a “seaman.” More often than not, maritime workers who work on ships, offshore rigs, barges, tugs, riverboats, and/or ferries, will likely be considered a seaman. But not always, which is why it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable maritime attorney about your potential case. We can help you navigate the complexities associated with your classification as a maritime worker, and determine if you qualify as a “seaman” for purposes of pursuing a claim under the Jones Act.

Seamen already deal with dangerous jobs, which is why it is so important for maritime employers to properly follow safety protocols. When they don’t uphold their required duty of care and provide a safe work environment, it is all too easy for sailors to be killed on the job. Whether they die directly in an accident at sea or succumb to their wounds later, the Death on the High Seas Act may help a victim’s family recover financially from the loss.

Who Can Bring a Suit Under the DOHSA in Louisiana?

There are several different federal laws in the United States covering injuries and wrongful death for people who work on or around maritime vessels. For instance, the Jones Act provides a means for seaman who are hurt to seek compensation or for the family to file a suit if the seaman died close to the shore.

As the name implies, the Death on the High Seas Act instead focuses on providing a means of redress for surviving family when someone passes away due to injuries sustained further at sea. The DOHSA typically comes into play if the event that caused your family member’s death took place more than three miles from the shore. Updates to the law also now allow legal action when someone dies in a plane crash in international waters.

DOHSA does limit who can bring a suit against a negligent maritime employer or airline, however. An attorney can help the following types of relatives file a lawsuit:

  • Children
  • Other dependent family members
  • Parents
  • Spouse

What Is Covered by the Death on the High Seas Act?

This particular maritime law only applies when the employer engaged in some type of negligence, or if the ship simply wasn’t seaworthy. Depending on the circumstances of how your loved one was hurt, the DOHSA may apply when a worker dies due to situations like:

  • Breathing in dangerous fumes in small spaces
  • Boat collisions
  • Capsized or sunken vessels
  • Chemical burns
  • Continuing to use aging equipment that should have been replaced
  • Defective parts
  • Explosions or onboard fires
  • Exposure to electric shocks
  • Falling overboard
  • Failing to provide needed medical care immediately
  • Inadequate safety inspection schedules
  • Improper maintenance
  • Lack of proper training
  • Missing life boats
  • Other workers or management failing to follow established safety protocols

Why You Need a Lawyer to Pursue a DOHSA Lawsuit

Unfortunately, there are several pitfalls that can stand in the way of a successful DOHSA claim. For instance, the law features a contributory negligence clause that can reduce compensation. If a court determines the employee was 50% responsible for the accident due to their own actions while the employer was responsible for the other 50%, the amount recovered would be cut in half.

Due to the potential costs involved, the at-fault party is likely to try to argue the deceased was at least partly responsible. That’s why you should hire an attorney to investigate the accident, comb through employer records, and interview witnesses. When successful, compensation recovered by utilizing the Death on the High Seas Act specifically covers:

  • Counseling for family members
  • Funeral costs
  • Loss of financial support from the loved one who passed away

It’s important to keep in mind that the DOHSA doesn’t provide a means to recover damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the victim after being injured but before passing away. This is another crucial reason to consult an experienced lawyer, as there could be other wrongful death claims to utilize for a full and fair recovery.

DOHSA lawsuits additionally feature a strict three-year statute of limitations. That can pass more quickly than you expect, as it takes a significant amount of time to thoroughly investigate the accident, establish what occurred, and identify the negligent party responsible for your loved one’s death.

Speak With a Qualified Maritime Attorney About Protecting Your Legal Rights

If you are already dealing with an emotionally devastating situation like the loss of a family member, you shouldn’t have to wonder how you are going to cover your normal monthly bills. Schedule a consultation with the Scott Vicknair Law Firm by calling 504-500-1111 or use our contact form to find out how we can help. We want to vigorously defend your legal rights in court while holding the at-fault party responsible for your loved one’s tragic passing.

The Law Governing Maritime Work Can Be Just As Complex As The Work Itself.

One such law, known as the Limitation of Liability Act, is a federal law that is meant to provide some protection to a shipowner. This Act, which was enacted in 1851, is/was meant to promote and protect American shipping and to allow American ship owners to compete against foreign shipowners. Put simply, if a claim is made against the ship, the Act lets the ship “limit” her “liability” to a certain value that can, unfortunately, leave an injured party without full compensation for his/her injuries. In order to pursue this limitation, the owners of the vessel will file a Limitation Action on their own (which means an injured worker may be on the receiving end of the legal pleading), or they will raise it as a defense against the claim(s) of the injured personnel. But either way, this usually results in a delay or prolonged process since it has to be adjudicated, or decided by the Court.

A knowledgeable maritime attorney knows, however, that are ways to argue that this limitation shouldn’t apply to your case. For instance, if the shipowner knew, or should have known, of the acts of negligence or unseaworthiness that caused the accident, then the Limitation will not apply and the value you can recover may be greater. But this often requires extensive investigation and an understanding of the maritime industry and the law that controls it. If you have been served with a Federal Court limitation action, or have additional questions about how a potential limitation might impact your maritime injury case, feel free to call our maritime attorneys.

One question you may regularly have regarding your maritime injury and which our maritime attorneys get regularly is if your maritime settlement is taxable? The answer is generally no.

The IRS Code Section 104 states that any money you receive on account of a maritime personal injury is not considered income to you that year, as follows:

“Section 104(a)(3) states that except in the case of amounts attributable to (and not in excess of) deductions allowed under ‘ 213 for any prior taxable year, gross income does not include amounts received through accident or health insurance (or through an arrangement having the effect of accident or health insurance) for personal injuries or sickness (other than amounts received by an employee to the extent such amounts are attributable to contributions by the employer which were not includible in the gross income of the employee or are paid by the employer).”

If you make a claim for a maritime injury and your maritime injury claim settles, the money is likely not going to be taxable to you. However, an experienced maritime lawyer knows it would be preferable to specifically delineate that all monies paid in your maritime injury settlement were paid for your personal injuries. Our maritime attorneys always protect our clients by making sure that this language is in their settlement documents.

If you’re injured on the water or suffer an offshore maritime injury and receive a Jones Act settlement, take care to make sure you talk to your maritime attorney about this. He or she should know this type of information.  Call us if you have any questions about whether the money you may get through the Jones Act due to a maritime injury or offshore injury is going to be taxable to you. Our maritime attorneys are here and ready to represent you in your injury claim.

So often, we speak with clients who don’t even realize that they have a valid maritime claim because the word “maritime” can be misleading.

In a legal sense, the word maritime doesn’t mean just “water;”

it can mean so much more, which is why it’s important to speak with an attorney who has experience in this area.
As a rule of thumb, if you are injured while you are on a ship, barge, tug, ferry, or rig, that is in navigable waters, like the Gulf of Mexico or Mississippi River, your claim will likely be considered maritime. But, did you also know that you might have a valid maritime claim even if you were injured on land or onshore? For instance, if you got hurt while working in a shipyard, at a port or harbor, or on a dock or pier, you still might qualify as a maritime worker.

And as any “maritime” worker knows, it’s more dangerous than your average job. Due to the hazardous nature of the work environments, common accidents can include a variety of incidents such as slip and falls, collisions, use of unsafe or defective equipment, relying on improperly trained personnel, or unsafe working conditions in general. And, unfortunately, many more…

So if you sustained an injury, even if it’s inland or onshore, and suspect that you might have a valid maritime claim, please call to talk to one of our personal injury attorneys so that you are aware of your possible rights under maritime law.

If you are an injured maritime worker, you will soon see that there are some weird maritime laws that are not always easy to decipher. You might benefit from talking to one of our maritime attorneys to determine whether your injury entitles you to recover under general maritime law, or maritime workers’ compensation (which is very different from land-based workers’ compensation).

For instance, in order to receive compensation or get a maritime settlement under certain maritime laws, the accident must have occurred on or near “navigable water.” This phrase has been a source of legal dispute for many years. In port cities like New Orleans, Gulfport, and Mobile, there are many bodies of water that someone can be on or near when they are injured that are not legally considered “navigable,” for purposes of having a valid maritime claim.

Navigable waters are usually considered bodies of water that are large enough to support commercial shipping or used for interstate or foreign commerce. Interestingly enough, though, this doesn’t always limit the application of maritime law to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, or the like. There can be instances where admiralty or maritime law can apply to certain waterways, and it’s important that you determine whether the body of water is legally “navigable” before asserting a maritime personal injury claim. If you have any questions about the body of water where you sustained an injury, and whether being on or near that body of water may permit you to have a maritime injury claim, please call us.

There are numerous remedies for seaman who are injured on a ship. These remedies can be extremely useful in starting the restorative process for an injured worker. Deciding which remedy is best can be a confusing and stressful task. This is why it is crucial to contact an experienced maritime personal injury attorney if you or your loved one finds themselves in this position. One appropriate option may be a claim for unseaworthiness.

The doctrine of unseaworthiness is one of the remedies available to seamen who are injured while on a boat or “vessel.” The law of unseaworthiness is intended to protect seaman and ensure that the conditions they are working in are safe and adequate. When working conditions fall below a reasonably safe standard and a seaman is injured as the result, they may have a claim for unseaworthiness.

Maritime law classifies a ship as seaworthy when the vessel, equipment, or appurtenances are reasonably fit for their intended use. The standard is reasonableness. Therefore, the vessel or the equipment aboard does not have to be kept in perfect condition for it to maintain its status as seaworthy. If these elements of a ship or the ship itself fall below this reasonableness standard, a claim for unseaworthiness may arise.

Some elements of a ship that must meet seaworthy status are:

  • The hull of a ship
  • Ropes and tackle aboard a ship
  • The ship’s cargo handling machinery
  • Ship’s provisions of food, furniture, and apparel
  • All equipment belonging to the ship or brought aboard the vessel by stevedores
  • Members of the crew including liability for assaults, brutality, or for employing an improperly trained crew.

Notably lacking from this list is the ship’s cargo itself. However, the method of cargo storage must be reasonably fit for the purpose of cargo storage.

The following are typical circumstances in which these elements may be classified as unseaworthy:

  • Defective part of the physical ship
  • Defective training of the crew
  • Insufficient number of workers assigned to perform a shipboard task
  • Slippery Deck from a water leak
  • Missing safety guards
  • Toxic fumes
  • Failure to provide a safe means of loading or unloading a vessel
  • Inadequate number of supplies or provisions
  • Broken or defective tools


To bring a claim of unseaworthiness there are criteria that the vessel and the plaintiff must meet. In order for a ship to be classified as unseaworthy, the vessel must be in navigation. Therefore, ships that are docked for an extensive period may not be the subject of an unseaworthy claim. To be an eligible plaintiff in an unseaworthy claim, the individual must be classified as a seaman. Therefore, a passenger or visitors on a vessel do not have a right to bring this claim. A seaman who qualifies to assert Jones act and Maintenance and Cure claims also qualifies to bring unseaworthy claims. Individuals who qualify as longshoremen do not have the ability to bring this action. However, not every injury sustained by a seaman on a ship in navigation will give rise to a claim of unseaworthiness. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the unseaworthy condition was the proximate cause of his injury.

The responsibility of ensuring the safety of a ship lies with the owner of the vessel. Therefore, the owner of a vessel may be held liable as a proper defendant for the damages the injured seaman sustains as a result of the unsafe conditions upon his boat. This obligation may not be delegated. The duty of the owner to provide a safe vessel is absolute. This means that a claim for unseaworthiness is separate and distinct from a claim of negligence. The absolute duty imposed on the owner of a ship allows a plaintiff to recover damages caused by the unsafe conditions in cases where the vessel’s owner did not have knowledge of the unsafe condition.

An unseaworthy claim is also distinct from a Jones Act claim. A major difference between these two, besides the requirement to prove negligence in a Jones Act claim, is that a plaintiff in an unseaworthy action may recover remedies traditionally available under general maritime law. This allows an injured seaman to recover all damages typical to the Jones Act plus additional damages such as loss of consortium for the spouse and children of the seaman. However, because the two claims are intertwined, they are commonly brought together in the same lawsuit. In fact, if a plaintiff brings an unseaworthy claim without the Jones Act they will potentially lose their right to a jury trial.

Deciding whether an individual meets the requirements to bring an unseaworthy claim presents complex questions of fact and law under maritime law. The knowledgeable and experienced maritime attorneys at Scott Vicknair are here to assist in answering these questions, so please give our maritime lawyers a call at 504-500-111 today for a free consultation on your maritime injury claim.

Many workers face risks in their jobs. Maritime workers including seaman, longshoreman, and boat captains face unique perils in the scope of their employment. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that maritime workers face fatal injuries at a rate 5 times that of the overall U.S. workforce.  When tragedy strikes and leaves one of these workers injured, their lives are often forever changed. Maritime law offers important remedies to these individuals that make it possible to begin rebuilding their lives.

A common option for an injured seaman is filing a claim under the Jones Act.  The Jones act is a federal law remedy that provides seaman with compensation for injuries they sustained while working on a vessel. The Jones Act is unique from other maritime claims in that it allows a plaintiff to sue their employer individually for negligence. The fact that the worker’s employer is named as the defendant in a Jones Act claim may cause some plaintiffs to worry about the effects filing a claim will have on their job.

Can my employer fire me for filing a Jones Act claim?

The unfortunate truth is that a maritime employer may choose to fire a worker who files a Jones Act claim. However, this does not mean that the employer has the legal right to take this action. Louisiana and many other gulf coast states are classified as “at will” employment states. This means that an employer can fire their employees for any reason or no reason at all.

However, an employer will be held liable if it is discovered that they fired an employee for filing a Jones Act claim. The law protects an employee from being fired for seeking to recover what he is owed under the law or from being threatened to not seek legal remedies for their injuries.

Discharging an employee for bringing a maritime personal injury claim is known as a retaliatory discharge and is prohibited by general maritime law. If an employer does choose to pursue a retaliatory discharge, the employee may sue for additional compensation. To prevail in a maritime retaliatory discharge claim, the plaintiff must prove that the employer’s decision to fire him was substantially influenced by the seaman’s lawsuit or their intent to file a lawsuit.

What damages may I recover in a retaliatory discharge claim?

A plaintiff may bring their maritime retaliatory discharge claim with their Jones Act claim. They may seek damages such as:

  • The expense of finding a new job
  • Lost earnings while finding a new job
  • Lost future earnings if their new job pays less than when employed by the defendant
  • Damages for mental anguish

A retaliatory discharge will give the plaintiff a separate claim apart from their Jones Act claim to receive these damages.

Maritime employees play a crucial role in sustaining life along the gulf coast. In doing so, they subject themselves to extreme risk and danger of physical injury. The Jones Act is an important remedy available to assist these employees if they are subjected to an unfortunate accident at sea.

The experienced maritime personal injury attorneys at Scott Vicknair are ready to protect these employees from being punished for exercising their legal rights and to ensure that they are properly compensated by their employer. Contact one of our maritime attorneys at Scott Vicknair at 504-500-1111 for a free consultation on your maritime injury claim today.

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