When you’re injured offshore, traditional state workers’ compensation laws do not apply. Instead, you typically have claims under federal maritime laws, including the Jones Act. If you’re confused about how these laws apply to your claim, you’re not alone — they require a careful legal analysis and technical expertise.
Thankfully, Andy Citrin and his experienced team of maritime injury lawyers can help you understand which laws apply to your claim and how much compensation you’re owed. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is the Jones Act?
The Jones Act controls much of our country’s maritime and offshore activities. It protects injured crewmembers and seaman and helps ensure their financial security while they heal. If you are covered by the Jones Act, you can sue your employer when if and when they negligently caused your injuries.
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In your Jones Act claim or lawsuit, you must prove that your employer:
- Did not provide a reasonably safe place for you to work or did not properly maintain the vessel
- Contributed to your injuries through their actions
- Caused your injuries and/or damages, like lost income and pain and suffering
There is an important distinction between the Jones Act and other negligence or workers’ compensation claims. Compared to Alabama personal injury law, it is much more victim-friendly, and your employer is liable for your injuries if they contributed to them by as little as 1%.
Unlike other types of workers’ compensation claims, injured maritime workers can claim a wide variety of damages under the Jones Act, including:
- Lost income and wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (under certain circumstances)
Many other workers’ compensation laws do not allow compensation for your pain and suffering or punitive damage awards.
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Am I Eligible for Compensation Under the Jones Act?
The Jones Act doesn’t cover every maritime worker. To be covered, you must qualify as a “seaman” under the law. This means you must do a significant amount of your work on a ship or vessel that is on navigable waters. While this might sound simple, you may actually need an offshore injury lawyer’s help to evaluate your eligibility.
While it’s always best to consult with a maritime injury lawyer before you file a Jones Act claim, let’s briefly review the factors that may impact your eligibility.
Were You Working on a Vessel?
Not every offshore facility is a vessel. For example, most fixed casino barges, offshore drilling platforms, and docks are not vessels under federal maritime law. However, if you were working on a supply boat, commercial fishing boat, ferry, tug boat, jack-up rig, semi-submersible rig, drill ship, or moving barge, you were on a vessel.
Did Your Job Require Significant Work on the Vessel?
If you are a permanent crewmember or captain of a vessel, you probably meet the “significant work” requirement. Generally speaking, if you spend more than 30% of your job on a vessel, you meet this requirement. If you need help calculating your time offshore, contact our maritime injury lawyers for help.
Did Your Ship or Vessel Work on Navigable Waters?
Finally, to qualify under the Jones Act, your vessel must have either been in navigation or capable of operating on navigable waters. Navigable waters include more than the ocean and gulf waters. If your vessel operates in a harbor, inland lake, river, or another body of water, it is probably on navigable waters.
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What If the Jones Act Doesn’t Cover My Offshore Injuries?
Maritime jobs are dangerous, even if you’re not working on a vessel on navigable waters. Between 2003 and 2010, at least 128 people died while working on offshore oil rigs — 11 of the deceased lost their lives during the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Thankfully, federal maritime laws offer other protections for harbor and dock workers, roughnecks on fixed oil rigs, and people who work on fixed floating structures like casino barges.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your offshore accident, you may be eligible for maintenance and cure benefits that help cover your living expenses and medical bills. For more information, please contact the offshore injury lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys immediately.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: We Demand Justice for Offshore Workers
While the law surrounding maritime injury claims may seem cut-and-dried, employers often do their best to avoid liability. They might try to get you to make damaging statements, encourage you to see their company doctor, or argue that your injuries were pre-existing or weren’t work-related. To fight back, you need an experienced offshore injury lawyer.
Andy Citrin is a certified proctor in admiralty and has fought for maritime injury victims for decades. He and his team aren’t afraid to stand up to insurance companies and will do everything possible to hold negligent employers accountable. To learn more about your legal options and request a free consultation, please complete this brief form or call 251-888-8888.
Fatal injuries in offshore oil and gas operations — United States, 2003–2010 (2013, April 26). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6216a2.htm
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.