Get to know your rights if you suffered injuries in an offshore accident. Contact our New Orleans maritime injury lawyers today.
The maritime industry is a big deal in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you live in this area, you probably are an active participant in the maritime industry or know someone who is a maritime worker. If so, you know maritime jobs are harsh working environments with multiple hazards.
Louisiana’s ports are some of the busiest in the world, employing thousands of workers. Maritime employees work in various fields, including fishing, marine terminals, and shipyards. According to the CDC, these workers are at a higher risk of illness, injury, and fatality than the average U.S. worker.
Risks in the maritime industry vary widely, including using heavy machinery to cold and heat stress. The marine environment poses unique challenges, like severe weather and vessel disasters. Workers can encounter these hazards on the water or at shipyards and marine terminals.
Have you or a loved one suffered injuries from a maritime accident? Then contact our New Orleans maritime injury lawyers to know your rights. The law allows you to recover damages from your employer for accident-related losses, such as medical bills.
Read on to understand your protections under maritime laws.
Maritime Injury Laws
Governed by maritime and admiralty laws, maritime injury cases are unique. These laws offer a means for injured seaman or their families to recover damages.
Maritime injury claims usually fall under one of the following acts:
General Maritime Law
In the U.S., seamen enjoy certain protections because of their exposure to severe hazards while working. Since maritime workers may stay for extended periods at sea, vessel owners must provide a safe working environment. General maritime law gives vessel crew members the right to recover compensation from injuries caused by an unseaworthy vessel.
The Merchant Marine Act
Also known as the Jones Act, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is a federal law that enables maritime employees to file personal lawsuits against their employers. This law applies to crew members or seamen working onboard or around vessels. It also covers employees whose work involved water bodies like lakes and oceans.
The Jones Act provides an avenue to receive “maintenance and cure” benefits for your employer if you get injured at the workplace. Maintenance refers to your daily living expenses, while cure entails all injury-related medical costs.
Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
Longshoremen or stevedores are employees who load or unload cargo from vessels at the port. Although their work is essential to the maritime industry, it exposes them to potentially hazardous environments. This law covers maritime employees, such as
- Shipbuilders and ship-repairers
- Harbor construction workers
- Shipyard workers
- Dock workers
The federal Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act provides relief for eligible maritime workers. It offers compensation, medical care, and rehabilitation to injured workers assisting in maritime commerce upon navigable water in the U.S. LHWCA also applies to accidents that occur on piers, docks, and terminals.
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
DOHSA offers relief for the families of employees who die because of accidents of negligence or wrongful acts while onboard a vessel in international waters. This law applies to victims of accidents that occur over 12 nautical miles from the American shores. It doesn’t apply to wrongful deaths on offshore platforms or drilling rigs.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)
Enacted in 1953, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act extends the protections of the LHWCA to employees that work on offshore platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf. Protections under this act include:
- Medical expenses
- Disability payments
- Rehabilitation costs
- Death benefits for families of workers
Eligible employees can claim benefits under the OCSLA even if they are at fault for the injury-causing accident. Contact a New Orleans offshore injury attorney for information about maritime law.
Common Types of Maritime Injuries and Offshore Accidents
Offshore accident injury and maritime claims often involve:
- Drilling rig accidents
- Well blowouts and explosions
- Harbor worker and longshoremen accidents
- Tug boat and barge accidents
- Cruise ship accidents
- Dredging accidents
- Commercial fishing accidents
Such incidents may cause catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries, head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and amputations. These accidents can affect your ability to work again in the future. The psychological trauma from catastrophic accidents may cause insomnia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What Compensation Can You Recover
Maintenance and cure is the most basic type of compensation for injured seamen. Its two distinct components include:
- Maintenance: Weekly payments you receive during recovery.
- Cure: Monetary compensation to cover your medical expenses like hospital bills and physical therapy.
Other than the maintenance and cure benefits, you may receive different types of compensation, like disability benefits, depending on your compensation claim. An admiralty lawyer will help you decode the confusing aspects of maritime legislation and estimate the potential damages.
Do You Need a New Orleans Maritime Injury Lawyer?
Following an accident injury, most offshore workers do not report the incident, especially if they do not require urgent medical attention. Whether you report the incident on not, consider contacting an experienced maritime attorney to learn your legal rights.
It is always best to consult a maritime lawyer immediately after an accident injury. Such cases can be challenging without legal representation. Most maritime injuries result from:
- Existing vessel damage
- Captain or seamen negligence
- Lack of proper equipment
- Oil leakages
The Jones Act allows you to sue an at-fault employer for fair compensation after sustaining a work-related injury. A seasoned maritime attorney will help review the case details to determine if you have more rights than your employer claims.
Statute of Limitations for Maritime Injury Cases
As per the Jones Act, you have three years from the date of injury to sue, while the statute of limitations for filing LHWCA personal injury claims is one year. Failing to meet these deadlines can prevent you from seeking compensation for maritime injuries.
So, you should act promptly and consult a maritime attorney. This will give your offshore injury lawyer enough time to build a case to recover damages and fill out the paperwork in good time. Don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance.
Reach Out to a New Orleans Maritime Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one were injured during a maritime accident, don’t leave your financial future up to chance. Let an experienced offshore injury lawyer help you pursue financial compensation. Your attorney will investigate the incident and gather evidence to strengthen your case. They will also handle case-related correspondence as you focus on healing.
Since injury cases usually require boat-loads of paperwork, your legal team assists with administrative duties. Personal injury attorneys also handle negotiations in such cases. When parties fail to agree on a settlement, your attorney will fight for your rights in trial.
Evaluate your case today and start the journey towards financial recovery from your maritime accident losses.