If you are a Louisiana resident who makes your living on the water, severe injury and death on the job are realistic prospects you must prepare for potentially occurring. Most offshore injuries are a reality to Louisiana’s residents who work offshore because of the inherent danger of the job.
The Jones Act is intended to protect offshore workers from injury by creating obligations that your employer must meet to prepare a safe work environment for workers on the water. The Jones Act protects offshore workers in a variety of ways.
The Jones Act allows you to sue for the negligence of your employer.
If you suffer an injury on the job while working on or near the water, it is likely that the Jones Act applies to your injury and could give you an opportunity to make your employer liable for the negligence that led to your injury. The Jones Act would require you to make an initial showing that your employer or superior was aware the vessel you worked on was defective or inadequate. The Jones Act would also require you to connect the defective or inadequate nature of the vessel to your offshore maritime injury.
Damages for injured offshore workers.
The Jones Act also provides for damages to be awarded to offshore maritime workers who are injured on the job. If you can show your employer or superior was negligent, you may be awarded damages attributable to your pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, and other damages associated with the offshore injury.
The Jones Act helps enforce a safe environment for maritime workers.
The Jones Act’s protection for maritime workers helps create an environment that prevents workers on the water from being put in unsafe and dangerous conditions. It creates mandates and guidelines for medical care which must be provided to you when an injury on the water occurs. Additionally, it helps require various elements of boat maintenance, licensing, training, on-deck safety equipment, and compliance with various federal regulations, ensuring the work environment is as safe as possible for workers on the water.
The Jones Act has specific time periods under which you must file suit.
The Jones Act also has specific requirements under which you must initiate a proceeding for damages associated with your injury. Those time periods generally are capped at three (3) years from the date of your injury. However, it is important to note not all maritime workers qualify under the Jones Act to be considered a seaman. Therefore, contacting a reputable attorney familiar with maritime law as soon as possible after your injury is preferable to protect your rights. Our maritime lawyers have over a decade of experience in maritime litigation.
Compensation for Injured Seamen in Louisiana
If you qualify as a seaman, the Jones Act provides for what’s known as “no-fault” remedy, meaning that you are potentially eligible for compensation after an injury no matter who is ultimately responsible for the accident. You don’t have to go to court and prove negligence on the part of your employer to start receiving payments.
Instead, the Jones Act essentially establishes a worker’s compensation option for individuals employed on seafaring vessels. Under this federal law, employers need to provide payments to injured workers for both maintenance and cure. Here’s what that specifically covers:
- Maintenance. Because many seamen live and sleep on the vessel during the course of their employment, the “maintenance” half of the equation covers your basic cost of living. You must be provided payment for renting housing on land while you recover away from the vessel. It also covers groceries and some restaurant meals, as well the cost of utilities like electricity, gas, and water. The Jones Act does not cover phone or internet bills, however. The specific amount paid daily for maintenance can vary depending on your employer and any relevant union contracts. You should always have an attorney go over the amounts being paid, as employers may try to provide less than is necessary for the critical costs of living payments.
- Cure. The second half of the equation covers medical expenses directly related to your maritime injury, such as an emergency room visit, hospital stay, the cost of surgery, and any needed prescription medications or follow-up visits. Payments continue until the injured seaman is determined to have reached “maximum medical improvement.” That threshold is determined by a doctor, and is the point at which the patient either fully recovers, or is not expected to recover any further even with additional medical treatment.
Unfortunately, neither maintenance nor cure covers other important costs like lost wages, loss of future earning potential, permanent disability, or non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Recovering the full and fair amount you are owed may involve maintenance and cure from your employer, as well as a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent parties responsible for your accident. In some situations, a lawsuit may be warranted to seek punitive damages from an employer who purposefully withholds proper maintenance and cure to an injured seaman.
Contact a Knowledgeable Louisiana Maritime Attorney
Even if you don’t fit the description of a seaman under the Jones Act, you may still be entitled to compensation under other maritime laws. The bottom line is that you need to contact an attorney quickly if you were seriously injured during a job that takes place on or near water. Schedule a consultation with the Scott Vicknair law firm today to find out how we can help protect your legal rights as a maritime worker.
Jones Act and Hiring an Attorney: FAQs
If you have been injured as a seaman and are considering filing a claim under the Jones Act, it’s essential to understand the process and the role of an attorney. Our Scott Vicknair, LLC, team is here to provide insights into this act by answering some FAQs.
What is the role of an attorney in Jones Act cases?
Hiring an experienced lawyer is crucial when dealing with the Jones Act. An attorney specializing in maritime law and the Jones Act can guide you through the legal process, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for your rights. They will ensure that your claim is properly filed and that you have the best chance of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries.
What qualities should I look for in a Jones Act attorney?
Before hiring a Jones Act attorney, you should always consider the following:
- Experience: Look for an attorney with a proven track record in handling Jones Act cases and maritime law. Their experience will be invaluable in navigating the complexities of your case.
- Knowledge: Ensure the attorney has a thorough understanding of maritime law and the intricacies of the Jones Act. They should be up-to-date with any recent legal developments that may impact your claim.
- Resources: Choose an attorney who has the necessary resources to investigate your case thoroughly, gather evidence, and consult with expert witnesses if needed.
- Communication: A good attorney should be responsive, provide regular updates on your case, and be able to explain legal concepts and processes in a clear and understandable manner.
- Reputation: Research the attorney’s reputation within the legal community and check for client testimonials or reviews to gauge their professionalism and success in handling Jones Act cases.
What steps should I take after being injured as a seaman?
When you’ve been injured as a seaman, you should implement the following steps:
- Report the incident to your employer: Notify your employer about the accident and your injuries as soon as possible. Ensure that a written incident report is filed.
- Seek medical attention: Prioritize your health and safety by seeking medical treatment for your injuries. It’s crucial to document your injuries and obtain medical records that can support your claim.
- Document the accident scene: If possible, take photographs or videos of the accident scene, any hazards that contributed to the incident, and any visible injuries.
- Preserve evidence: Keep any relevant documents, such as employment contracts, pay stubs, or safety manuals, that can help establish your employment status and support your claim.
- Consult with a Jones Act attorney: Contact an attorney specializing in maritime law and the Jones Act to discuss the details of your case and understand your legal options.
Is there a time limit for filing a Jones Act claim?
For filing a Jones Act claim, there is a timeline which is also called a statute of limitations. The specific deadline varies depending on various factors, including the location of the incident and the nature of the claim. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to ensure that your claim is filed within the appropriate timeframe.
Can I handle my Jones Act claim without an attorney?
It is possible to handle your Jones Act claim yourself, but our law team highly recommends against doing so. Maritime laws, including the Jones Act, can be complex, and insurance companies often have experienced legal teams working against you. An attorney with expertise in the Jones Act will have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect your rights, negotiate with insurers, and maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation.
When pursuing a Jones Act claim as a seaman, hiring an experienced attorney is crucial to ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve. By selecting an attorney with experience in maritime law, a thorough understanding of the Jones Act, strong communication skills, and a reputation for success, you can navigate the complexities of your case more effectively. Remember to act promptly, preserve evidence, and consult with an attorney to understand your legal options and maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Work with our Scott Vicknair, LLC, team today by giving us a call!