Are you trying to recover compensation for an offshore injury?
While seamen are not eligible to file for workers’ compensation, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries under a federal admiralty law called the Jones Act.
At Galloway Jefcoat, our offshore injury lawyers in Lake Charles have a thorough understanding of the federal admiralty laws that govern these complex claims. 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.
Founding partner Rusty Galloway also personally spent time working on an oil rig. This experience has helped provide him with an in-depth understanding of the unique hazards maritime workers face on the job.
Call our firm to learn about your legal options in a free case review – with no further obligation.
Galloway Jefcoat. Experienced Lawyers. Call: (337) 984-8020.
Am I Eligible to File a Claim Under the Jones Act?
This is a question you should discussed with a licensed attorney, as there are various factors to consider. Typically, you may be eligible to file a claim if:
You are an Eligible Seaman
Under maritime law, an eligible seaman works on a single navigable vessel, or between various vessels of a single fleet. Work duties must directly contribute to the overall purpose or function of that vessel.
Examples of the types of workers that may be qualify as an eligible seamen under the Jones Act include:
You Meet Percentage of Time Requirements
The law only states that a seamen must spend a “significant amount of time” on a single navigable vessel or multiple vessels of a specific fleet. However, in a court of law, it has been defined to mean that at least 30 percent of your duties are performed on one navigable vessel or between two or more vessels of the same fleet.
The Vessel You Work on is “In Navigation”
For a vessel to be considered “in navigation,” it must be fully functioning and seaworthy. In short, it must be:
- Afloat – This could mean tied up or anchored, but not out of water on blocks or in a dry dock area.
- Operational – fully functioning
- Able to move on its own power – which means it is seaworthy
- On navigable waters – Any body of water that enables either interstate or foreign commerce can be considered navigable water.
For example, if a ship is being repaired, but remains on the water, it will likely be considered navigable. Common types of vessels that may be deemed as “in navigation” include:
- Cargo Ships
- Charter boats
- Commercial fishing boats
- Cruise ships
- Diving support crafts
- Drill ships
- Jack-up rigs
- Offshore dredges
- Oil platform supply and service boats
- Oil tankers
- And more
Examples of vessels that are not navigable:
- A ship that is still being built – it is neither fully functioning or seaworthy.
- An oil drilling platform – These vessels, which are permanent structures and cannot move as they are anchored to the ocean floor, are not navigable
Your Injuries Were Caused by Another’s Negligence
The Jones Act only permits eligible seaman to seek financial compensation if they are hurt in an offshore work incident and can prove that their injuries were caused by the negligence of:
- The vessel owner
- Ship operator
- One or more other seamen
Seamen may also sue their employer for injuries caused by a manufacturing or design defect that made a vessel unseaworthy.
Unsure whether you qualify for compensation under the Jones Act? Call for your free, no-obligation consultation to learn if you have a case. Our offshore injury attorneys in Lake Charles are ready to help.
Call for a FREE case review to get started. (337) 984-8020.
Understanding Negligence Under the Jones Act
Under maritime law, employers have the responsibility of ensuring seamen have a safe work environment. This law applies whether the ship is temporarily in port or in navigation.
Employer responsibility for a safe environment may include:
- Ensuring all vessel decks are free of hazardous obstacles, such as unsecured cargo or a slippery oil or grease spill
- Checking that on board equipment is maintained, functioning as intended and regularly inspected for repairs or defects
- Verifying training and qualifications of all crew members
- Ensuring all required tools and materials are on board for the crew and to maintain ship safety
- Taking measures to ensure adequate security and oversight to prevent physical assault between crew members
- Following procedures to avoid dangerous storms or other serious weather conditions that could cause harm
- Creating and implementing safe operating procedures on board the vessel
If your injuries are the result of your employer’s negligence in one or more areas, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages.
Seamen Can Be Negligent
Seamen may also be injured through the negligence of their coworkers. For example, a coworker may have been negligent if he or she:
- Did something that a reasonable or prudent person would not do
- Failed to take action that a reasonable or prudent person would have
- Failed to take reasonable measures to either avoid injuring themselves or causing harm to others
For example, if you were injured by a crewmember who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be eligible to seek compensation under the Jones Act. However, if you were intoxicated and suffered an injury, you may be ineligible to file a claim.
Vessel Owner Negligence
A vessel owner may be found negligent for claiming a vessel as seaworthy while being aware of one or more conditions that could be hazardous to crew members.
For example, say a vessel has a winch that is used by crewmembers to pick up and move heavy objects. The vessel owner is aware that his or her vessel’s winch is old or in need of maintenance but refuses to repair it.
- While in navigation, crewmembers use the winch, but because of its state of disrepair, the winch malfunctions and drops the object on one or more crewmembers. In this situation, the vessel may be considered unseaworthy and the victim may have a claim against the vessel owner.
What is the Value of an Offshore Injury Case?
The value of an offshore injury varies and is determined by several contributing factors. These considerations may include the type and severity of your injury, the treatments you need to continue your recovery and more.
If eligible, compensation you may be eligible to seek under the Jones Act could include:
Maintenance and Cure
Under the Jones Act, there are certain expenses that seamen have a right to, regardless of whether an attorney establishes negligence for an injury. This compensation is provided by the employer during a seaman’s recovery period.
Maintenance refers to room and board expenses, such as rent, mortgage, utilities, food, even property taxes. However, a seaman’s car payment, phone bill and internet costs are not included in this benefit.
Cure benefits provide seamen with the reasonable and necessary medical coverage for their injuries, as well as any transportation costs incurred to get this care. Cure may cover:
- Surgeries you may need
- Physical therapy
- Rehabilitation services
- Special mobility assistive devices
- Mental health counseling
- Follow-up doctor appointments
Maintenance and cure payments, like workers’ compensation, are paid by the employer’s insurance carrier and are paid on an ongoing basis to the injured seamen, either weekly or bi-weekly. Once the seamen reaches his or her maximum medical improvement (MMI), the payments cease.
Loss of Earnings
The loss of wages while recovering can be devastating to a maritime worker, as well as his or her family. In addition to mounting medical costs, there are everyday costs of living that can quickly lead to a serious financial struggle.
Our Lake Charles offshore injury lawyers may be able to pursue compensation for wages you have already lost and wages you may lose in the future if you cannot return to your former position.
Pain and Suffering
Beyond the real damages of medical costs and lost wages, injured victims often suffer emotional trauma, mental anguish, physical pain, anxiety and many other psychological issues that may be compensable through pain and suffering damages.
Death of a Loved One at Sea
If you have a family member who suffered a fatal offshore injury three or more nautical miles from shore, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA).
This type of claim, which must be filed within three years from the date of death, compensates dependent family members. Spouses, children, parents – even siblings or grandparents may be eligible to file, if they were dependent on the deceased.
The burden of proof is on the plaintiff – which means your attorney must be able to prove negligence as the cause for your loved one’s death. This type of claim could be the result of:
- Failure to adhere to safety procedures
- Fires or explosions on the vessel
- Failing to provide proper medical care
- Insufficient training of other crewmembers
- Defective equipment aboard the vessel
- An overturned or sinking vessel
If a seaman was assessed with some liability for the accident that caused his or her death, you may still be eligible to file a claim for compensation. However, the total amount of compensation awarded will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.
In a DOHSA claim, you can only seek pecuniary or economic damages. Unlike a Jones Act claim, you are not eligible to recover compensation for the pain and suffering of your loved one before his or her death.
Dependent family members may, however, be eligible to receive compensation for:
- Burial/funeral costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of benefits – including anticipated pension
- Mental counseling
Are There Deadlines That Apply to Filing a Jones Act Claim?
Under the Jones Act, the statute of limitations for seeking compensation for an offshore injury is three years from the date of the accident.
If an injury is not immediately discovered, such as if there are delayed symptoms, the deadline would be three years from the date of discovery.
Reach out to Galloway Jefcoat as soon after your injury as possible. Our dedicated Lake Charles offshore injury lawyers can review the details of your accident to determine the deadline that may apply in your situation.
Steps to Take After an Offshore Injury
If you hire the services of an attorney, he or she will guide you throughout the legal process to ensure protection of your best interests, as well as the value of your claim. However, right after your accident and before you contact an attorney, there are steps you can take to protect your health and any claim you may pursue.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
After any work-related injury, it is critical to make sure you seek immediate medical care to protect your health. Taking this step also creates official medical records of the injuries you sustained, which is helpful in connecting your injuries to the accident and supporting a legal claim.
Report the Injury
As soon after you accident as possible, you should notify your employer. Leaving any significant gap in the time from when the incident occurred to when you reported the accident can make it easier for your employer to argue that you may have sustained your injuries elsewhere.
If you are not familiar with the reporting requirements of your employer, you should get this information in case you need it in the future.
Other steps you can take after an offshore injury are much the same for any personal injury:
- Adhere to your doctor’s prescribed plan of care
- Continue any prescribed medication or physical therapy
- Keep all follow-up doctor appointments
- Document your injuries and your daily pain progress
Call Our Offshore Injury Lawyers in Lake Charles
If another’s negligence caused you to suffer harm on seaworthy vessel, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses under the Jones Act.
At Galloway Jefcoat, we have extensive knowledge of the complicated federal maritime laws that govern these claims, and we are ready to help. We have a successful recovery history, recovering millions for other injured workers, and we are prepared to seek maximum compensation on your behalf.
Our Lake Charles offshore injury lawyers have been advocating for the injured in Louisiana for more than 25 years. We have the resources and staff to fully investigate and manage your case throughout the legal process.
You will find our Lake Charles office at 417 Alamo Street, less than a five-minute drive from the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
Call our law offices to schedule your free case review today.