For offshore workers, seeking just compensation for a work-related injury can be difficult. You need to focus on getting better, your employer and its insurance company are (most likely) working against you, and you need to find an attorney you can trust to fight with your best interests in mind. Even understanding the terminology involved in filing a claim for compensation can be a challenge.
Common Terminology in Offshore Injury Claims
1. Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal statute that entitles injured “seamen” (see below) to file lawsuits against their employers. Since state workers’ compensation laws do not apply to offshore workers on vessels, for these individuals, Jones Act claims act as a sort of substitute for seeking workers’ comp. However, the Jones Act provides additional benefits (such as the ability to seek full compensation for your losses) and has special limitations as well, so filing a claim requires the help of an experienced maritime attorney.
2. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (also called the “Longshore Act” or the “LHWCA”) is a federal statute that applies to certain maritime workers who do not qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act. The Longshore Act entitles injured workers to seek limited “no-fault” benefits from their employers and file full-compensation claims against any third parties that are responsible for their losses.
3. Maintenance and Cure
“Maintenance and cure” benefits provide coverage for injured offshore workers’ medical care and basic room and board. It is available under the Jones Act, which means that you must qualify as a “seaman” in order to file a claim. Maintenance and cure benefits are usually minimal (around $30 to $50 per day), so in addition to filing for maintenance and cure it is important to exercise your other legal rights as well.
In a Jones Act claim or a third-party claim under the Longshore Act, the key to recovering compensation is proving that someone else’s “negligence” is to blame for your injuries. Negligence is a complex legal principle, but the basic concept is that someone must have made a mistake that caused you harm.
In order to seek compensation under the Jones Act, you must qualify as a “seaman.” See your legal rights as a Jones Act seaman.
Another way to seek compensation after an offshore accident is to assert that the vessel on which you were injured was “unseaworthy.” When a vessel is deemed unseaworthy, its owner will be financially responsible for any injuries resulting from the unseaworthy condition. There are numerous issues that can render a vessel unseaworthy – to see some examples, read: 10 Things That Can Make a Vessel Unseaworthy.
Schedule a Free Consultation at Morrow & Sheppard LLP
If you have been injured working offshore, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation with one of our experienced maritime lawyers. We will be happy to help you understand your rights; and, if you have a claim, we will aggressively pursue maximum compensation for your losses. To get started, call our Houston, TX law offices at (800) 489-2216 or request your free consultation online today.