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. 

Port Workers loading cargo ship

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.