Should I Hire a Maritime Lawyer After an Injury at Sea?
Our Maritime Lawyers Explain Compensation Options for Offshore Injuries
Maritime accident cases differ from typical workers’ compensation claims because injuries at sea do not necessarily fall under the jurisdiction of any state’s laws. Instead, certain federal laws apply to maritime injuries, including the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). These entitle injured maritime workers to different benefits after an on-the-job injury, depending on the circumstances. Still, maritime laws are often complex, and your ability to recover compensation depends on multiple factors, such as your job title and the circumstances of the accident. Unfortunately, these factors are not always clear, making it easier for your employer to deny your claim. Therefore, if you sustain injuries at sea as an oil worker, fisherman or in any other occupation, then you should speak to an experienced maritime attorney about your rights and options.
The Louisiana maritime lawyers at Galloway Jefcoat have handled more than one thousand injury cases since 1996. Co-founder and partner Rusty Galloway spent time working in the maritime industry aboard oil rigs. Consequently, he has firsthand knowledge of how oil companies cut corners to make profits while endangering the safety of workers. Our law firm uses these unique insights to fight for the rights of injured maritime workers. As a result, we have a proven record of success in these types of cases.
What Should I Do After a Maritime Injury?
After suffering an injury at sea, you should take steps to protect your health and ability to recover compensation. After an offshore accident, it is important to:
- Seek treatment. Always get medical treatment after an offshore accident, even if your injuries appear minor at first. Some types of injuries may take days to manifest. Others may cause serious secondary health problems, such as infection, without prompt treatment.
- Fill out an incident report. It is vital to possess accurate records detailing your injuries and the circumstances surrounding your accident. Therefore, complete an incident report for your employer and be sure to get a copy for yourself.
- Call an attorney. Aside from the initial report, do not sign any paperwork from your employer without an attorney’s review. You could be signing away certain rights. In addition, you should also never give any recorded statements about injuries without the advice of a maritime attorney.
- Get a second opinion. If your employer has its own medical staff, then seek independent verification of your injuries from an unaffiliated medical professional. Medical staff working for your employer could downplay the seriousness of your injuries to avoid paying more in compensation.
What Laws Apply to Workers Injured at Sea?
Maritime laws allow those who work on seagoing vessels to receive maintenance and cure for injuries, regardless of fault. This means that, after a work-related injury, your employer is responsible for covering basic living expenses like rent, utilities and food (maintenance) along with necessary medical expenses related to the injury (cure). Additionally, you can receive maintenance and cure until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). However, these rules may vary for union members.
Additional, specific maritime laws address certain types of workers and accidents. These include:
- The Jones Act. The Jones Act protects “seamen,” or people who spend significant amounts of time working on a vessel in navigation. In some cases, offshore rig workers may be covered by the Jones Act.
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This law covers maritime workers other than seamen. LHWCA may cover shipbuilders, repairmen and workers with jobs that take place on or near navigable water.
- The Death on High Seas Act (DOSHA). This law provides compensation for family members of offshore workers who are killed by acts of negligence at sea. However, DOSHA has strict guidelines on when the families of workers may file claims.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a claim under one or more of these laws after an injury at sea. Otherwise, you may be eligible for traditional workers’ compensation benefits.
Injured at Sea? Call Our Louisiana Maritime Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you were injured at sea, then our attorneys can help determine whether you have a claim under maritime law(s). Depending on the circumstances, you may have multiple options for pursuing compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and more. Our attorneys can answer your questions and explain your options based on your unique situation.
The maritime injury lawyers at Galloway Jefcoat represent workers in Lafayette, Lake Charles, Sulphur, Calcasieu Parish and the surrounding Louisiana coastal region. For a free consultation, call us at (337) 984-8020 or fill out an online case review form.