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Guide to the Louisiana Jones Act: Navigating Maritime Accidents

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The state of Louisiana is home to many offshore workers, seamen, longshoremen, and other professions that require employees to spend their days on the sea. These jobs are often fraught with peril, with the potential of suffering serious injuries because of the heavy machinery and other risks in play while performing their offshore duties.

Added to the dangers of offshore work is the complexity of maritime law. As offshore workers, these employees are not protected by the same state of Louisiana workers’ compensation benefits that land-based workers may enjoy. That’s why when an offshore worker or oil rig worker suffers a serious injury while on the job, it is highly recommended that you speak with a personal injury attorney with years of experience representing maritime law cases.

While offshore workers may not have the same workers comp benefits, there are laws in place that provide rights to different types of injured offshore workers who were hurt on the job. Perhaps the most well-known among such government acts is the Jones Act of 1920 (also sometimes referred to as the Merchant Marine Act).

Before the Jones Act became law, injured seamen and other maritime workers largely had no source of recourse to recover compensation after they were injured while on the job at sea. Because of the relatively little risk to liability, the shipping industry and ship owners cut corners, took liberties, and disregarded the safety of their workers. This, of course, resulted in even more injuries and deaths among the offshore workforce. Thankfully, with the Jones Act and other acts like it now in place, negligent employers can be held accountable, and injured workers can seek compensation for their losses.

If you have been injured in an offshore accident or your family member lost their life in such an accident, it is highly advisable that you seek professional legal counsel from maritime injury lawyers. Our law firm has extensive experience providing legal representation to the Louisiana offshore worker community. We are well-versed in maritime injury law and can help you recover economic and noneconomic damages sustained as a result of your offshore accident injury. To learn more about our compassionate and empathetic legal services, please contact our Lafayette law office to schedule your free initial consultation today.

What Should You Do if You’re Injured in an Offshore Accident?

If you’re ever hurt at work while at sea, there are a few steps that you should take to protect your personal injury claim and ensure that you get the medical treatment you require.

Immediately after your offshore accident, be sure to assess your injuries and seek immediate medical attention. Not only can emergency medical care save your life, but it could also save your personal injury case. Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. If you do not follow the doctor’s orders, your personal injury case could be potentially dismissed or devalued.

Report your offshore accident to your supervisor, manager, or others in charge. This may not be legally required, but it can help your case by establishing an accident report. Failure to submit an accident report could be used against your personal injury claim at a later date.

Do not discuss your injury with anyone other than your personal injury attorneys and your spouse. What you say could be used against your personal injury case and diminish the amount of maximum compensation you could recover.

If you have not done so already, now is the time to contact personal injury lawyers experienced in maritime law. Our law firm has extensive experience representing injured clients who work offshore jobs, and we would be proud to represent your interests in and out of the courtroom as you pursue financial compensation for your injuries. Schedule a free case review to discuss your offshore accident injury case today.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act was passed to guarantee protection to certain maritime workers injured on the job while at sea. The Act allows injured offshore workers to file a lawsuit against their employers in pursuit of financial recovery. Maritime workers are often not eligible for standard workers’ compensation benefits in Louisiana, so the Jones Act is considered one of their most optimal legal options for injured workers seeking damages.

If successful in your Jones Act claim, you could recover past medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, lost income earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other expenses.

Other laws may provide injured seamen a means of recovering compensation for injuries sustained on the job at sea. The Jones Act is specifically for cases of employer neglect and recklessness. Essentially, if an accident could have been prevented with a reasonable and rational level of care, then your offshore accident may potentially qualify for the Jones Act.

What Are Maintenance and Cure Claims?

Under maritime law, maintenance refers to the cost of maintaining yourself in day-to-day life when you can’t work due to an injury. The Jones Act entitles you to money, which you require to pay for necessities like rent, utilities, food, health insurance, taxes, and other daily living expenses.

Whatever medical care you require because of your injury or illness suffered while on the job is referred to as a cure. These expenses should be covered by your employer under the law. Expenses may include surgical bills, doctor’s bills, pharmaceutical medications, transportation to and from medical appointments, rehab and physical therapy expenses, and more.

According to maintenance and cure law, your offshore employers are responsible for compensating you for injuries and illness sustained on the job at sea. This applies regardless of who, if anyone, is determined to be at fault for the accident.

The major difference between maintenance and cure claims and the Jones Act is that the Jones Act is exclusively for acts of negligence on behalf of your employers. If employer negligence caused your offshore accident, your case may qualify for the Jones Act.

Who Qualifies for the Jones Act?

The Jones Act protects all injured seamen. The law defines seamen as men and women whose job requires them to spend most of their time aboard a vessel or contribute to the function of that maritime vessel. You may potentially file a Jones Act lawsuit if you were injured while on navigable waters.

Those who may qualify for Jones Act protections include:

  •  Captains.
  •  Cooks.
  •  Deckhands.
  •  Divers.
  •  Drillers.
  •  Fisherman.
  •  Mates.
  •  Pilots.
  •  Sailors.
  •  Stewards.
  •  And potentially anyone else with a job aboard a maritime vessel.

What Vessels May Not Meet Jones Act Qualifications?

The Jones Act is for any offshore injuries suffered on ships or offshore vehicles in navigation over navigable waters.

The following ships may not qualify for Jones Act lawsuits:

  • Any ship in dry dock, under construction while not afloat, or on land.
  • Any vessel that is navigable or afloat but that is being tested for seaworthiness.
  • Oil drilling platforms. Although they are on the ocean, they are not afloat. Oil rigs are anchored to the ocean floor and do not move. An oil platform is not a vessel in navigation; it is a permanent structure. Oil rig workers may be protected under other federal laws.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Experienced Maritime Injury Lawyers Today

Maritime accident injuries are often severe and life-threatening. If you have suffered severe injuries while on the job as an offshore worker, fisherman, seamen, or other type of qualifying maritime worker, you may potentially qualify for Jones Act protections.

Landgrave Garcia Injury Attorneys is a personal injury law firm located in Lafayette, Louisiana. Our highly skilled legal team prides itself on providing communicative and compassionate legal services to injured clients in and around the Lafayette area. To discuss your case in more detail and determine whether you qualify for a Jones Act lawsuit, please contact our law firm for a free case evaluation today. 337-242-7604.

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