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Jones Act Injury Lawyer

When you or your spouse sustained an injury in an offshore accident, it may be difficult to figure out how you’re going to pay all your bills. If your maritime employer isn’t covering all of your medical expenses and cost of living as they should, then you may have no choice but to use the laws in place to provide for you and your family. If you decide to go this route, you will eventually need to hire a maritime injury attorney and file a Jones Act claim in order to get the compensation you deserve. Under the Jones Act, you are entitled to claim damages that are directly related to your accident.

However, dealing with your employer or insurance company to get the compensation you need can be complex, challenging, and stressful. An experienced lawyer can review your claim for free and advise you on your rights and options to recover Jones Act damages.

If you’re an injured maritime worker, contact a Jones Act attorney today to learn how you’re covered under the Jones Act and how maritime law protects you against employer negligence that caused your on-the-job injuries.

Maritime attorneys at The Young Firm

What are Damages?

Damages are just a legal term for money that is awarded through a court process to an injured worker who has been hurt through the negligent or wrongful actions of someone else.

Types of DamagesWhat That Covers
Pain and Sufferingphysical or emotional stress caused by your injury
Medical Expensesdoctors’ visits, surgeries, rehab, etc
Loss of Wagesthe income you would have earned if you were not injured
Loss of Fringe Benefitsmeals provided to the employee while working, retirement benefits, health insurance, disability insurance, etc.
handshake with money
Jones Act Damages

Depending on the nature of the case, compensatory damages may cover these or other expenses resulting from your personal injury:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages, including overtime
  • Physical disability
  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Mental disability
  • Property damage
  • Transportation charges

Maintenance: Maintenance is defined by the law as the amount it costs for you to maintain yourself on land as your employer did at sea while you are recovering from your injury. Maintenance covers the costs for your lodging, food and monthly bills while you are injured and is generally paid at a fixed rate. Most companies pay $15 to $30 per day.

Cure: Cure refers to any medical expenses that are reasonable and related to your injury.  You are allowed to choose your own physician.

Both maintenance and cure are paid until the seaman reaches maximum medical improvement,  Maximum medical improvement is defined as the point in recovery from an illness or injury where a seaman’s condition will no longer improve with medical treatment.

After any offshore injury, you have to look out for yourself and your family. As an injured seaman you may be entitled to compensation that goes beyond maintenance and cure (which is required under law). Most deckhands are considered seamen and are therefore protected under a federal law known as the Jones Act.

If your injury was caused by the negligence of the vessel owner, captain or a crew member or because the vessel was unseaworthy, you may be able to file a Jones Act lawsuit for additional damages.  Jones Act damages include:

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses include past and current medical bills and anticipated future medical costs including surgery, hospital and doctor bills, therapy costs and medical supplies.

Damages for medical bills may include:

  • emergency services;
  • hospitalization;
  • medication;
  • X-rays;
  • diagnostic tests;
  • surgery; and
  • physical/occupational therapy.

It’s important to note that medical expenses may also include future care and treatment. For instance, if several surgeries are necessary or long-term rehabilitation is required, compensation may be sought in addition to current bills.

Lost Wages

You may be able to recover any lost income and be compensated for the anticipated loss of income in the future.

Lost Earning Capacity

If your injury affects your ability to work and your earning potential,  your employer may be held liable for the decrease in your earning capacity.

Loss of Benefits

Maritime jobs typically pay very high benefits. You may seek compensation for past and future loss of benefits.

Mental Anguish

Serious injuries and disabilities can affect a person’s mental well-being.  If you suffered from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress after your injury, you may be able to obtain compensation for your mental anguish.

Loss of Consortium

After a serious injury, a person may not be able to engage in the activities they once enjoyed. Family and spouse relationships may suffer.  These benefits provide compensation for these losses.

Each of these damages can be collected for both past and future pain or expenses you incur. This means that if you paid $5000 for a surgery two months ago and also have to pay $10,000 for a surgery two years from now, you could collect money for both the past and future surgery. The same applies to pain and suffering and the wages that you lost out on due to your injury.

Pain and Suffering Damages

Under the Jones Act, you’re entitled to receive pain and suffering damages if you suffer an accident that was caused by your employer or any of its employees.

What does this mean to you?  Well, pain and suffering damages are not based on any type of a formula. Unfortunately, there’s no law book that you can go to that says if you have an injured knee that’s had a scope done to it you receive this much or if you have a lower back injury you receive this much. Pain and suffering damages are sometimes called general damages because there is no scale or rule of law that says how much you should receive. Your age also factors in how much you can potentially receive for your injuries. Younger people sometimes will have a longer period to suffer physical pain and suffering so generally their awards are higher. For settlement purposes, there are generally ranges for different types of physical injuries.

Typically, a jury would be allowed to give a very minimal amount for an injury for pain and suffering but at the same time a jury can give a very large amount for pain and suffering. What we explain to our clients is when a case is discussed for settlement purposes typically the company will focus on a more narrow range. They’re not going to offer you the minimum amount because they know you wouldn’t accept it but they typically are not going to offer you the most amount that a jury or a judge would be allowed to give you. That’s why they call it a settlement. That’s why it’s a compromise.

So, the value of your general damages for settlement purposes tends to be a much more narrow, much more confined area here whereas when you get into court with a jury or a judge they can typically give the lower end of the spectrum or a lot of times the higher upper end of the spectrum also.

How Are Damages Collected?money, watch, maintenance lasts

The damages allowed for pain and suffering depend greatly upon the nature of your injury. You will be allowed to collect damages for both past as well as future pain and suffering ONLY if you prove these damages at trial. We prove that you need these damages by:

  • Collecting Testimonies from Friends and Family. Your, your spouse’s, and/or friend’s testimony will be important to show how the injury has affected your quality of life. This is necessary in order to prove the court that you have suffered because of your injury.
  • Relying on Your Doctor’s Expertise. The medical reports from your treating doctors will be very important for your future pain and suffering damages. Your physicians can testify as to whether or not your condition will improve or worsen in the future. Judges and juries are allowed to estimate the amount and type of pain and suffering that you will most likely experience in the future, and under the Jones Act they are allowed to award money damages for this suffering even though it has not occurred.
  • Working with Job Experts. Our office works with experienced economists (job experts) who will calculate the exact value of your past and future loss of wages and fringe benefits. In almost all cases, an expert economist is required to predict future loss of wages. Most courts WILL NOT allow you to collect loss of future wages and future fringe benefits unless an expert economist has made these calculations for the jury.
  • Gathering Important Documents. Our office will obtain all of your pay records including the value of your fringe benefits and use this information to calculate the true value of your past and future economic losses, including loss of fringe benefits. Sometimes your loss of fringe benefits can amount to almost as much as your loss of actual wages.

Factoring Pin & Suffering Into Your New Orleans Jones Act Injury Claim Value

When it comes to assessing the true dollar value of your Jones Act injury claim, there is one component’s worth that can vary greatly: pain and suffering. This part of any claim is unique in that there is no automatic dollar value that can be applied to it.

The amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering is based on the opinions of a judge or jury if your case goes to trial. When you’ve been injured at sea and want to file a Jones Act case, an attorney with The Young Firm can offer guidance regarding how your pain and suffering may be calculated.

Making the Case for the Value of Your Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering cannot be measured or quantified like a hospital bill or missed paycheck. Even though it’s something experienced internally, it has the potential to greatly impact relationships and day-to-day life.

The following are individuals who may be needed to account for your pain and suffering:

  • Doctors: You may need your treating physicians to relay whether your injuries are expected to worsen in the future, which in turn might impact your mental and emotional well-being;
  • Family members and close friends: Those who are closest to you may provide the most detailed account of how your life has been changed as a result of being injured at sea; and
  • Yourself: Pain journals, photographs, and logs from therapy and counseling can demonstrate the nature and extent of your injuries.

The testimony you, your doctors and family members provide may be helpful in relaying just how much your injuries have impacted your emotional, psychological and mental well-being. With this in mind, building a strong case with compelling testimony is crucial to safeguarding your financial well-being after a serious maritime accident in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jones Act law is stringent. An attorney devoted to these types of cases can help prepare you for what lies ahead.

What Should You Do After Suffering Injuries in a Maritime Accident?

Here is a thorough response about what you should do after suffering injuries in a maritime accident:

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

The first and most important step after suffering any injuries in a maritime accident is to seek medical attention right away. Even if your injuries seem minor, it’s crucial to get checked out by a doctor. Some injuries may not present symptoms immediately but can worsen over time if left untreated. Seeing a doctor also documents your injuries, which will be important for any legal claims.

man with back injury

Report the Accident

Once you have received necessary medical care, report the accident to your supervisor or the appropriate person according to your employer’s protocols. Provide a detailed account of what happened, including the date, time, location, how the accident occurred, and the injuries you sustained. Request a copy of the accident report for your records. If the accident was not your fault, consider also filing a report with the Coast Guard.

Document Everything

Start a file and keep detailed records of everything related to the accident and your injuries. This should include:

  • Medical records and bills
  • Accident reports
  • Witness statements
  • Correspondence with your employer and their insurance company
  • Documentation of missed work and lost wages
  • A personal account of the accident while it’s fresh in your mind
  • Photos of your injuries and any property damage

Having thorough documentation will be very important for filing insurance claims and any legal actions.

Know Your Rights Under Maritime Law

Depending on the specifics of your employment and how your injuries occurred, you may have certain rights and be entitled to compensation under maritime laws:

  • The Jones Act allows qualifying seamen who are injured on the job due to employer negligence to sue their employer for damages.
  • The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides workers’ compensation benefits to certain maritime employees who don’t qualify as seamen under the Jones Act.
  • General Maritime Law requires maritime employers to provide a reasonably safe work environment and seaworthy vessels. Failure to do so resulting in injury can make them liable.

An experienced maritime injury lawyer can advise you on your specific rights and legal options.

Consult an Experienced Maritime Injury Lawyer

Maritime injury law is complicated, and cases can be challenging to navigate. It’s best to consult with a lawyer who handles this area exclusively. Look for an attorney with specific experience handling maritime injury claims like yours. Many lawyers provide free initial consultations and work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. A knowledgeable lawyer can:

  • Explain your rights and advise you of your legal options
  • Gather necessary evidence to build your case
  • Handle all legal filings and negotiations with the insurance company
  • Fight to get you fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages

Avoid Signing Anything from Your Employer or Their Insurer

After an accident, your employer or their insurance company may pressure you to sign documents or even offer a quick settlement. Don’t sign anything or accept any money without consulting an attorney first. You could be signing away important rights and settling for far less than you deserve.

Taking these steps after a maritime accident and injury can help protect your health, your rights, and your ability to recover fair compensation. The most important things are getting medical care, reporting and documenting the accident, and consulting an experienced maritime lawyer to discuss your options.

Contact an Experienced Jones Act Lawyer Today

If you want to stop worrying about how you can get the compensation you need to pay for your medical bills and other damages, let us guide you through this challenging and uncertain time. Reach out to a Jones Act attorney at The Young Firm today for a free consultation about your case. 

You can call us directly at toll-free at 504-680-4100 or complete our online contact form to get started.

The Young Firm

400 Poydras St Ste 2090
New Orleans, LA 70130
(1) 504-608-1055