Without experienced legal help, maritime workers may have a difficult time recovering compensation for a workplace injury. Federal laws governing these claims can be complex and confusing, which may make it easier for employers to deny legitimate claims.
The Lafayette offshore injury lawyers at Galloway Jefcoat have extensive knowledge and experience with these types of claims. Partner Rusty Galloway even spent some time working on oil rigs. He knows how oil companies cut corners, putting profits over worker safety.
Our firm offers a free initial consultation to discuss your injury and how we may be able to assist you. There is no obligation to hire our firm after this meeting. We have helped many marine workers secure compensation, and while each case depends upon its own facts, we routinely recover six and seven figures for maritime workers who have suffered back injuries.
We are not only dedicated to securing maximum compensation; we can also help coordinate your medical care and refer you to qualified medical professionals in your area.
Galloway Jefcoat. Free Consultation. Call (337) 984-8020.
Are You Covered by The Jones Act?
If you spend a minimum of 30 percent of your time working as a captain or crewmember on a seafaring vessel, including oil rigs, you are likely considered a seaman and covered by The Jones Act.
This federal law gives eligible maritime workers the right to sue an employer to recover compensation for injuries suffered on the job. Workers must prove the injury resulted from their employer’s negligence to recover compensation.
Employees who perform a variety of functions connected to the mission of the vessel may be covered by The Jones Act, including:
Most employees who work on seafaring ships, tugs, fishing boats, barges and dredges are considered seamen under The Jones Act. You may also be covered if you do at least 30 percent of your work on a:
- Drill ship
- Cruise ship
- Charter boat
- Oil tanker
- Jack-up rig
- Commercial fishing boat
- Charter boat
- Diving support craft
The administrative support staff on a seafaring vessel is not covered by The Jones Act. Even though their work is necessary, they usually do not spend much time on the vessel itself.
The vessel you work on must be in navigation or you will not be covered by The Jones Act. In other words, the vessel must be floating and capable of moving. The vessel could be tied up sitting in a dock, but if it is floating and capable of moving, it fits the definition of “in navigation.” The vessel must also be on navigable waters, which are waters used for interstate or foreign commerce.
The experienced Lafayette offshore injury lawyers at Galloway Jefcoat know how to determine eligibility for a case. We have more than two decades of experience helping injury victims in Louisiana secure compensation. We are prepared to guide you through every step of the process.
Have questions about filing a claim? Call today: (337) 984-8020.
Filing a Jones Act Claim
Unlike workers’ compensation claims, victims must prove their injuries resulted from the negligence of the owner or a crew member on the vessel where he or she worked.
In a Jones Act claim, negligence refers to the failure of a crewmember or vessel owner to use ordinary care to keep the vessel in a reasonably safe condition. If there is a failure to apply ordinary care, your employer may be liable for any damages you suffer.
Your employer could be held liable for any unsafe conditions that cause injuries, such as:
- Ladders or handrails with no grip strips
- Failure to have a fire extinguisher on the vessel
- Failure to properly maintain equipment/machinery
- Slippery walking surfaces, such as surfaces with grease spilled on them
- Failure to provide safety equipment
- Failure to train members of the crew on safety
- Not performing routine safety inspections
- Failure to provide procedures for evacuating the vessel
- Operating the vessel at an unsafe speed
- Assault by a crewmember
- Crashing into another vessel
Can Shipowners be Held Responsible for Injuries?
Yes, you may have a claim if your lawyer can prove the vessel was unseaworthy. Under maritime law, a vessel can be considered unseaworthy and still be able to sail or navigate the water. The key question is whether the vessel had safe and suitable appliances that crewmembers could use to complete their work.
For example, if the owner of the vessel refuses to make repairs and you suffer injuries because the vessel is in disrepair, you may have a viable claim against the owner of the vessel.
Compensation Provided by The Jones Act
Seamen have the right to maintenance and cure for on-the-job injuries, regardless of whether your lawyer proves your employer was negligent.
Maintenance refers to compensation for a worker’s daily living expenses (rent, groceries, utilities, property insurance, property taxes, etc.). Federal law does not set a daily rate for maintenance benefits. However, if you are part of a union, the rate for maintenance payments may have been collectively bargained.
While the daily amount seamen receive varies from case to case, it could range anywhere from $12 to $50 per day.
This refers to payment for necessary medical care, which may include the cost of:
- Emergency treatment
- Hospital stays
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
Expenses like these should all be covered by your employer, as required by The Jones Act.
You are eligible for maintenance and cure from the moment you get injured to the point you reach maximum medical improvement. This is the point where your injuries have completely healed or are unlikely to improve much with continued treatment.
Personal Injury Damages
The Jones Act gives you the right to file a lawsuit over an on-the-job injury. That means you may be able to pursue the same types of damages you would pursue in a personal injury claim, such as:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Lost companionship
- And more
You may also be eligible to pursue lost earning capacity if you cannot work in the same position or career as before and this results in you making less money than you previously did.
The value of any Jones Act claim needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is important to review the situation with an experienced attorney who has a proven track record of recovering compensation.
Galloway Jefcoat is here to help. Call today: (337) 984-8020.
Filing a Claim if Your Loved One Died Working at Sea
If your loved one died while working offshore, you may be eligible to file a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). The law covers maritime workers who died three or more nautical miles away from shore.
The purpose of a DOHSA claim is to secure compensation for spouses, children and others who were dependent on the deceased (parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents).
Your attorney must establish your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another. While there are many examples of negligence that could give rise to a DOHSA claim, some of the most common includes:
- Not following appropriate safety procedures
- Fires or explosions aboard the vessel
- Defective equipment on the vessel
- Failing to provide appropriate medical care
- Poor training of crewmembers
- Sinking or overturning of the vessel
If your claim is successful, you may be eligible for compensation for:
- Funeral costs
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits, including pension benefits
- Psychological counseling
Unlike Jones Act claims, you can only seek compensation for pecuniary or economic damages. That means you cannot seek compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering before death.
If a maritime worker contributed to his or her own death, it is still possible to file a claim and recover compensation. However, the final award may be reduced by the worker’s percentage of fault.
The deadline for filing a DOHSA claim is three years from the date of death. If you do not file within that time, you will likely lose your right to do so.
Steps to Take After Suffering an Offshore Injury
The most important step after suffering an injury is to obtain medical care. You need to be examined by qualified health care professionals who can diagnose and stabilize your injuries to prevent them from getting worse.
Make sure to explain how the injury happened and all the symptoms you are experiencing. As you go through treatment, update your doctors on new or worsening symptoms, as well as any improvements in your condition.
Taking these steps helps to ensure your injuries and response to treatment are properly documented. Not only is it important to show the severity of your injuries, but it is also important to establish how seriously you are taking the management of your care. Your employer may try to attack your credibility or claim your injuries are not that serious. This tactic becomes much harder if you have been following your doctor’s treatment recommendations.
Seeking a Second Opinion
Sometimes victims are examined by their employer’s medical staff. If this happens, you may want to seek a second opinion from another doctor. Medical professionals working for your employer may downplay the severity of your injuries to reduce the value of your claim.
Reporting the Injury
Report the injury to your employer immediately. However, you should never sign anything other than an initial report. If you sign other documents, you may be signing away your rights. You should review these other documents with your attorney first.
Your employer may ask for a recorded statement, but you are not required to give one early in the process. You should only provide such a statement with help from a licensed maritime Lafayette offshore injury lawyer.
You may want to write down what you remember about the accident while it is fresh in your mind. That way you can easily refer to important details later when needed.
Finding an Attorney
Your choice of a lawyer can be one of the most important decisions you make. You need an experienced attorney with extensive knowledge and resources to build a strong case.
Galloway Jefcoat is here to help. We have been helping injury victims in Louisiana for more than 25 years.
Injured at Sea? Call our Lafayette Offshore Injury Lawyers
The initial consultation with one of our licensed attorneys is free of charge and comes with no obligation to take legal action. This is an opportunity for us to learn more about your claim and for you to learn more about how we may be able to help you.
The firm was founded by Rusty Galloway and Jon Jefcoat, both Lafayette natives, in 1996. Since that time, our firm has built a record of success serving injury victims throughout Louisiana.
If you are the victim of a maritime injury, we have the resources, experience and knowledge to guide you through the legal process.
Our office in Lafayette is just a 15-minute drive from the Lafayette Consolidated Government office. We represent workers in Lafayette, Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish and the surrounding Louisiana coastal region.
Galloway Jefcoat. Local Trusted Lawyers. Call: (337) 984-8020.