Your Rights After An Offshore Injury
While some occupational hazards in maritime settings may be unavoidable, many offshore injuries are the result of human error or negligence. If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury while working aboard or in service of a vessel on navigable waters, you’re likely covered under the Jones Act. Unlike most other work injury systems, this Act allows injured employees to hold their employers liable if negligence was a factor in their injury.
Maritime workers on docks, ports, piers, harbors, and other settings near the water are usually covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. These benefits do not take negligence into account, but can help provide financial compensation for expenses related to your injury, including lost wages and medical bills.
Regardless of which Act you fall under, as an injured maritime worker, you’re entitled to financial compensation. However, it often requires legal assistance in order to secure the financial compensation you and your family need and deserve. To find out more about your options after a maritime or offshore work injury, contact us today for a free initial consultation with an experienced maritime lawyer.
Common Offshore & Maritime Work Injuries
Maritime work environments are full of potential hazards which could cause an injury. Employers and vessel owners have a duty to keep these work environments free of reasonably foreseeable hazards. A failure to do so could qualify as negligence, which would be grounds for a Jones Actclaim.
Injuries which frequently require financial compensation under the Jones Act include:
- Eye Injuries – Maritime workers who engage in welding, painting, or working with hazardous materials are all at risk of suffering a serious eye injury on the job. In any job position with the risk of eye injury, workers should be provided with proper protective eye gear.
- Head Injuries – Workers can suffer head injuries either by being struck by moving objects (such as a crane, derrick, or falling piece of equipment) or through slip and fall accidents and falls from heights.
- Back and Neck Injuries – Back and neck injuries can occur either due to repetitive stress which causes chronic injuries to slowly build up, or through maritime accidents, such as falling from a defective or improperly secured ladder.
- Burns – In certain maritime work environments, there is the risk of an accidental fire or explosion caused by human error. These accidents are especially prevalent on offshore oil rigs. Burn injuries often require some of the longest and most difficult recovery periods, involving extensive medical treatment, surgery, and possibly permanent disabilities.
- Fatalities – Each year, dozens of maritime workers die in preventable workplace accidents. The vast majority of these accidents are at least partially caused by the negligence of an employer or co-worker. If you’ve lost a loved one in one of these accidents, your family may be entitled to financial assistance for costs related to your loved one’s death.
Regardless of the nature of your injury, you are entitled to financial compensation as an injured maritime worker. However, legal counsel is often necessary in order to navigate the complex process of claiming your benefits.
About Filing A Jones Act Claim
Workers covered under the Jones Act may be eligible for financial compensation through one or more of the following routes:
- Maintenance and Cure – These benefits are available for any type of seaman injury, regardless of whether negligence was involved. Maintenance and cure provides financial assistance for daily living expenses and medical bills until a doctor determines you’ve reached maximum improvement.
- Negligence – If your injury was partially caused by the negligence of a co-worker or your employer, you can hold your employer liable for damages similar to what you could recover in a personal injury lawsuit. You could stand to recover financial compensation for economic expenses (like medical bills and loss of earning potential) and noneconomic damages (like pain and suffering).
- Unseaworthiness – If the vessel you were working on contained some type of defect, dangerous condition, or failure to meet safety standards, you could also hold the vessel owner liable for injury-related expenses under the principle of unseaworthiness. Any safety violation may be grounds for an unseaworthiness claim.
Because Jones Act claims involve negligence and complex litigation, it’s usually necessary to speak with a lawyer who has experience with maritime work injury cases.
Maritime workers who do not meet the qualifications of the Jones Act are likely covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), instead. A qualified maritime lawyer can also help you with a LHWCA claim.
How A Lawyer Can Help You
Maritime law is made up of several complex legal concepts. Your right to financial compensation can be influenced by where your injury occurred, your work environment, and other complex factors. Additionally, these cases often involve powerful employers and insurance companies with skilled lawyers. In order to give yourself the best chance of securing compensation, it’s usually necessary to have your own skilled lawyer who knows how to protect the rights of injured maritime workers.
Because of these complexities, many injury lawyers are not qualified to handle maritime injury cases. When looking for a lawyer, you should seek out someone who specializes in this field of law. To speak with an experienced maritime lawyer, contact us today for a free consultation.