Maritime Injury Claims
If you have been injured in a maritime accident and are considering filing a maritime injury claim, you’ve come to the right place to better understand your options. Maritime injury claims can be complicated and are quite different from the typical car accident injury claim both in terms of complexity and the potential benefits.
Types of Maritime Injury Claims
In general, there are several types of claims you can file if you’re a vessel worker or a seaman and you get injured while at work:
- Jones Act Claim
- Maintenance and Cure Claim
- Unseaworthiness Claim
- Negligence Claim
Jones Act Claim
The first one is the Jones Act claim. It’s a statute that the federal government passed that protects injured maritime workers. This kind of claim can only be filed by maritime workers who are classified as a “seaman,” which is essentially someone who spends 30% or more of their time on a vessel in navigable waters. Unlike worker’s compensation, Jones Act claims are filed directly against the employer of the injured worker.
Maintenance and Cure Claims
The second claim is what they call a maintenance and cure claim. That’s actually a general maritime law claim, but they call it maintenance and cure, which is basically your medicals and some money to live on. By law, employers of injured maritime workers are required to pay for your medical treatment (up to a certain point) as well as your living expenses while you recover. If they refuse to pay you the full amount, then you can file a maintenance and cure claim to force the company to pay you damages.
Maritime employers are required by law to provide safe workspaces and seaworthy vessels. If they do not provide a safe workspace or the vessel is unseaworthy and someone is injured, that is grounds for an unseaworthiness claim. This claim also falls under maritime law. You can file an unseaworthiness claim and seek any damages you suffered due to the unsafe equipment or vessel condition. Proving unseaworthiness can be difficult at times, but with the right evidence and documents, we’re able to show how employers could’ve provided a safer workspace.
Another claim you can file is called a negligence claim. A negligence claim basically means that you are demanding someone else repay you for damages they caused through their careless or reckless actions. Under a maritime law negligence claim, you can recover any damages you suffered:
- pain and suffering,
- wages loss,
- medical costs or any other harms.
It’s not always a simple matter of proving your negligence claim, so we offer these 5 tips for proving negligence after an injury.
In many of our cases, our clients will have claims under the Jones Act against their employers, and at the same time, they have maritime law negligence claims against any responsible third parties who may have also contributed to their accident.
Filing More than One Maritime Claim at a Time
You may have been working for your company but on a vessel owned by another company or you may have been working with other company employees who contributed to your accident. It’s not uncommon for us to file Jones Act and maintenance and cure claims against an employer, maritime negligence claims against a non-employer, and even an unseaworthiness claim against yet another party that owned the rig or vessel. While this may sound complicated, all the claims are in one filing and by naming all the required parties under the proper maritime laws, you will maximize your recovery.
Maritime and Jones Act Claim FAQs
These are some of the questions we hear the most from our clients.
- I was injured while working on or near the water. What are my rights?
- Who does maritime and admiralty law apply to?
- What financial compensation can I receive in a maritime injury lawsuit?
- I see you are located in Louisiana, but I wasn’t injured there. Will you still take my case?
- Will I be blackballed from future maritime jobs if I bring a lawsuit against my employer?
I was injured while working on or near the water. What are my rights? If you were injured while working on or near the water then you may be entitled to file a claim under general maritime law, the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act, or the Death on the High Seas Act. You have the right to pursue a lawsuit and recover damages, which is where an experienced law firm like The Young Firm can dramatically improve your chances of success.
- Jones Act seamen
- maritime workers
- harbor workers
- oil rig workers
- tugboat workers
- barge workers
- other workers in the Gulf of Mexico
- workers on the Mississippi River
You also may be able to file a maritime claim if you’ve been injured while working on any of the following:
- an oil rig
- construction barge
- floating crane barge
- cargo ship
- crew vessel
- supply vessel
- fishing vessel
- other floating vessel/structure
- your medical bills
- pain and suffering
- lost wages (including overtime)
- physical disability
- mental anguish
- loss of enjoyment of life
- loss of companionship
- mental disability
- property damage
- and loss of fringe benefits
I see you are located in Louisiana, but I wasn’t injured there. Will you still take my case? In a word, yes. We’ve represented clients in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas as well as workers injured in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River. In addition, we have helped injured seamen across the United States by working with their local attorneys to ensure they have a skilled and experienced maritime injury legal team on their side.
Will I be blackballed from future maritime jobs if I bring a lawsuit against my employer? We’ve been representing injured maritime workers for more than 50 years and we believe there is no blacklist. In fact, there are laws that prevent your former employer from revealing information like injuries you may have received while on the job. In addition, we’ve had several former clients who received excellent settlements later return to work offshore after they recovered from their injuries.
Be Careful Who You Trust
As word gets around that you’ve suffered an injury, you’re likely to get plenty of “advice” from others. Your uncle might tell you how his friend sued the oil company he worked for and got a multi-million dollar settlement, or the company may tell you not to seek medical care from anyone but their specialists.
With all of this conflicting injury advice coming at you at once, it can be difficult to decide to whom you should listen – if anyone – for help on how to handle a maritime injury claim.
After a serious offshore accident, you may get solicitations from “victim advocates” trying to get you involved in lawsuits and complicated legal cases. Your company may coerce you into seeing its doctors to confirm your injuries before it pays you any benefits.
If you’re getting hit hard with people offering to “help” with their advice and ideas, don’t accept their words as the final answer. Do your own independent research to find the answers to your own questions before you take advice from these sources.
When you find your own answers you can verify that the information is coming from a trusted source such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s website or a trusted maritime injury law firm.
Avoid Unfair Tactics for Your Rightful Compensation after Offshore Injury
Unfortunately, it’s common to see employers and the insurance companies taking advantage of maritime workers. Be cautious of these deceptive tactics:
- Getting you to sign documents you don’t understand – medical release forms are the most common, and signing one without knowing what it means could give the insurance company information to damage your claim.
- Demanding you see the company physician – you have the right to choose your own physician for any long-term treatment for your injuries.
- Promising your medical care will be handled by your employer as long as you don’t file a claim – There’s no guarantee you’ll get the complete care you need for long-term recovery if you don’t file an injury claim and have the accident documented.
- Abruptly forcing you to give a recorded statement – insurance companies often catch claimants off guard during these interviews and coerce them into damaging their own claims.
Before you file your maritime accident claim, you need to know what behaviors and events to avoid so you don’t damage your claim. A Louisiana maritime attorney can help you throughout the claim process so you have the best shot at a fair settlement.
Should I File a Maritime Injury Claim and Sue My Employer?
There is no short answer to this question. You want to protect your career, your family and your health, and you’re in a very tough position now. I always tell potential clients that if you have had a moderately serious injury and you believe the company or one of your co-workers did something wrong or incorrect which caused or even just contributed to your injury, then you are probably better off filing a claim. I define a moderately serious injury as one that you would be nervous to list on an employment application with another company or one you think another company would find important in deciding whether or not to hire you.
The Place to Turn for Your Maritime Injury Claims
For more information, we offer several free publications that will help you make some very important decisions about your future. If you have more questions or would like to speak with one of our skilled attorneys for no cost and no obligation, please contact us today.
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