Ask the Offshore Injury Experts: What Maritime Injury Lawyers Want You to Know
Have you been injured while working offshore? If so, you can recover money for your on-the-job injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When injured offshore, you need an experienced maritime injury attorney fighting for you. Many personal injury attorneys in New Orleans and Houston do not understand the complex aspects of maritime law. Having an experienced attorney on your side will help ensure you recover all the money you deserve.
Maritime Injury Experts
Our maritime injury lawyers in Houston and New Orleans have years of experience in this specialized area of law. We have handled hundreds of cases in Louisiana and Texas involving offshore workers injured by the negligence of others.
Here are some other points you should know about us:
If you want expert legal representation for your maritime injury case, contact our New Orleans or Houston law office today. If you’d like to learn a little more about this area of specialty, read on for information on these topics:
- Maritime Law: The Jones Act
- Types of Maritime Accidents
- Types of Maritime Injuries
- Compensation for Maritime Injuries
- What to Do When You’re Injured Offshore
- Contact a New Orleans Maritime Injury Attorney
After reading about the laws surrounding a maritime injury, let us know if you have any other questions. We’re happy to discuss your case during a free consultation.
Maritime Law: The Jones Act
The Jones Act was enacted in 1920 to provide legal protections to seamen and to support the United States merchant marine. Prior to the enactment of the Act, seamen were often not made financially whole when injured on the job. By passing the Act, Congress acknowledged the dangers of working on a vessel and the need to financially compensate injured sailors.
Seamen have certain types of claims that differ from land-based workers. Injured maritime workers are entitled to maintenance and cure, or living expenses and medical expenses, as a basic provision. However, under the Jones Act, seamen can recover additional compensation if they suffered an injury caused by negligence or unseaworthiness. The Jones Act extends seamen’s rights to sue for damages such as lost wages, loss of earning capacity, medical expenses, pain and suffering, vocational education, and loss of companionship.
Jones Act Eligibility
Jones Act eligibility to sue a negligent employer depends on an offshore worker being classified as a “seaman.” In order to be classified as a seaman, a worker must meet these criteria:
- Spend 30% or more of their work hours “in the service of a vessel on navigable waters” and
- Substantially contribute to the mission of the vessel.
Qualified seaman can sue their employers in federal or state court and can request a jury trial. This means you need a Louisiana and Texas maritime injury attorney skilled in both the negotiating room and the courtroom. While we try to achieve a maximum settlement quickly, we’re prepared to take your case to trial if needed.
To qualify as a Jones Act seaman, a person is not required to work offshore. Inland vessel workers are also entitled to the protections of the Jones Act as long as they have a significant connection to a vessel in navigation. A waterway is commercially navigable if used for interstate or foreign commerce.
Examples of workers who qualify under the Jones Act include:
- Crewmembers on commercial vessels,
- Workers on tugboats and barges,
- Commercial fishermen,
- Ferry workers,
- Workers on floating platforms such as lift boats, and
- Crewmembers on cruise ships and pleasure vessels.
Essentially, if you work a significant part of your time on a vessel, you may qualify as a Jones Act seaman.
The Jones Act applies a three-year statute of limitations to maritime injuries. This means that you have three years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit against your employer. Otherwise, you lose your right to sue your employer for your injury. Contact a Texas or Louisiana maritime injury attorney soon after your injury to make sure you stay within the statute of limitations.
Other Maritime Laws
Other maritime laws that may apply to your personal injury case include:
- Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act,
- Vessel Negligence,
- Death on the High Seas Act,
- General Maritime Law,
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and
Because the laws governing maritime injuries differ from land-based personal injury laws, you need expert representation. Several of our attorneys hold advanced degrees in the field of maritime law, and we use our specialized knowledge to help workers who have been injured offshore. We’ve represented injured workers, including offshore oilfield workers, Jones Act seamen, and longshoremen. We can explain which maritime laws apply to your case and what compensation you may pursue.
Types of Maritime Accidents
Though working offshore provides an exciting work environment that contributes significantly to the US economy, it also includes risks. Maritime work is dangerous, and the hazardous work environment can lead to job-related accidents and injuries. Maritime workers might experience several types of injuries.
Slippery decks may cause workers to fall and suffer an injury. Rough seas can rock boats or platforms and cause workers to fall overboard. Companies that don’t maintain decks or railings properly could be responsible for your injury.
Whether you work on an offshore rig or a jack-up rig, you may face injury. If employers don’t follow safety regulations, it can cause lots of problems. From rigs tipping over to equipment catching on fire, employer negligence can lead to injuries.
If the maritime equipment is not properly maintained, it puts workers at risk. Equipment may catch on fire or electrocute employees. Improper ventilation systems, gas leaks, or improper fuel storage can lead to fires and explosions that may burn employees.
Your employer has a responsibility to provide you with a safe work environment. If you’re injured while working on a waterway, your employer could be liable for your injuries. Even if the accident was partially your fault, you still may be able to recover damages. An experienced maritime injury attorney can help you determine if your employer was responsible for your accident.
Types of Maritime Injuries
When maritime workers encounter hazardous conditions at work, they can suffer serious injury or death. These maritime worker injuries may result from employer negligence:
- Back and neck strains from lifting heavy equipment;
- Toxic chemical exposure from lead paint, solvents, and ship cargo;
- Head injuries from falling equipment;
- Amputations and paralysis from equipment malfunctions;
- Slip and fall injuries from wet or dimly lit decks;
- Decompression or other diver injuries;
- Burns and electrocutions from equipment malfunctions;
- Harm from medical malpractice by ship medical crew treating injured workers; and
- Drowning deaths from improper life-saving rescue techniques used for crew overboard.
If you’re injured due to your employer’s negligence, it may impact your ability to work. While you’re out of work, your medical bills can pile up. In order to pay your bills, you need financial help from your negligent employer. An offshore maritime injury attorney in our Houston or New Orleans office can help you determine what compensation your employer owes you.
Compensation for Maritime Injuries
Workers who suffer injuries while working in a maritime job can receive compensation for their injuries. If you’re worried about the financial consequences of your injuries on your employer, know that most injuries are covered by insurance purchased by your employer for injuries like yours. You’ll likely face an insurance company, not your employer, at the negotiating table. The insurance company will most likely pay your damages, not your employer.
Workers who have been injured due to negligence or unseaworthiness (improper maintenance of a vessel) can sue for injury compensation. Personal injury compensation covers both economic and non-economic damages.
A maritime employee can sue their employer for economic damages, or financial losses resulting from their workplace injury. Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and other monetary losses.
A worker injured due to negligence or unseaworthiness can also sue for non-economic damages. These damages include pain and suffering and loss of companionship resulting from the injury.
If the employer refuses to pay maintenance and cure, the employee may sue for punitive damages. This payment is designed to teach employers a lesson about treating employees fairly. The court usually reserves punitive damages for employers who exhibit terrible behavior.
Wrongful Death Claims
If a maritime worker is killed on the job, a family member may sue the employer for wrongful death. Just like injury requirements under the Jones Act, wrongful death claims require specific eligibility. An employee’s death has to occur while serving a vessel on navigable waters. If the employee’s death occurs in other conditions, maritime law may not apply. An experienced maritime injury attorney can help you determine which laws apply to your wrongful death case.
What to Do When You’re Injured Offshore
If you sustain an offshore injury, you’ll want to take careful steps to aid your physical and financial recovery.
Report Your Accident or Injury
Tell your employer about your injury as soon as you can, and stick to the facts without embellishing your story. When you report your injury right away, it helps prove that you were injured at work instead of elsewhere.
Sign Required Forms
Fill out any required accident reporting forms. Review your employer’s reporting of the accident, and make sure the report is accurate. Then sign the forms and obtain any required supervisor signature.
Seek Medical Assistance
Get medical help as soon as you realize you’re injured. If you return to work while injured, it could delay your case. Instead, seek medical attention and don’t return to work if your injury hinders your ability to work.
See an Independent Physician
When you seek medical assistance, go to an independent physician rather than one your employer recommends. Doctors affiliated with your employer may not diagnose your injuries accurately.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
After you see an independent physician, follow the medical recommendations. If you ignore your doctor’s recommendations, it may impact your ability to recover damages for your injury.
Talk to an Attorney
It’s best to call a maritime injury attorney in Houston or New Orleans soon after you’re injured. Your attorney can help you complete the required paperwork and make sure you give needed statements to your employer. The offshore injury attorney will also help you evaluate any potential damages claims.
When you’re shocked by a sudden injury at work, it can be hard to remember all these steps. If you need support during your recovery process, call an experienced maritime attorney. Your offshore injury attorney will help you seek medical attention while preserving evidence against your employer. Having an attorney on your side means you can focus on recovery while your attorney handles your personal injury claim.
Contact a New Orleans Maritime Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured while working offshore, you need an attorney to fight for your rights. That attorney must be experienced in maritime law in order to effectively negotiate with your employer. Our experienced maritime attorneys aren’t scared of a fight, no matter the size of the company that hurt you. We’ve gone up against some of the biggest businesses and insurance companies in the industry. We’ll fight for your legal rights and work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case and let you know if we can help. Don’t worry about finding money for a retainer, either. If we think we can win your case, we work on contingency. This means that you owe us nothing until we win your case.
Call our New Orleans maritime law attorneys today for a free case review.