Is the Jones Act My Only Option for Seeking Compensation for Offshore Injuries?
As an offshore worker, you may qualify for special protections that allow you to seek full compensation from your employer for work-related injuries. The U.S. Government has enacted several laws designed to provide benefits to offshore workers above and beyond those provided through ordinary workers’ compensation.
One of these laws is the Jones Act. If you qualify under the Jones Act, you can sue your employer for all of your damages – including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic losses – resulting from your work-related injuries. However, in order to claim all of these damages, you will need to be able to show that your employer was at fault in the accident.
So, what happens if your employer isn’t to blame for your offshore injuries?
First, if the Jones Act does not apply to your situation, for example if you work on a fixed offshore platform, you may be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation. In Texas, Louisiana, and other states, workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, which means that your employer has to pay regardless of the cause of the accident (with a few exceptions).
But, the trade-off with this no-fault system is that your employer’s liability is limited to your medical expenses and just a portion of your lost wages. As a result, we strongly recommend that you speak with a Houston Jones Act lawyer before attempting to file a claim for workers’ compensation.
Dangerous and Defective Products
Regardless of whether you are able to pursue a claim against your employer under the Jones Act or for workers’ compensation, you may have claims against other responsible parties as well. One common scenario where this is the case involves defective products. Under “strict liability” laws, any company involved in the chain of distribution of a defective product may face liability for injuries caused by the defect.
As an offshore worker, you likely use numerous potentially-dangerous products every day. From tools and machinery to safety equipment and even parts of vessels themselves, you rely on countless products to function as intended. If one of these products is defective and the defect causes you harm, you may be able to seek an insurance settlement or file a lawsuit for financial compensation.
Claims Against Contractors and Subcontractors
Another situation where you may be able to sue someone other than your employer involves liability on the part of a contractor or subcontractor. In addition to your employer, there may be several companies that have employees working on your vessel. Workers’ compensation laws and the Jones Act apply specifically to claims by an employee against his or her specific employer. They do not affect claims against other companies.
If your offshore injuries are due to the negligence of a contractor or subcontractor, a lawyer may be able to help you pursue full compensation for your losses.
Contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP to Learn More
At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, we have significant experience helping offshore workers obtain just compensation for work-related injuries. To find out if you may have a claim, call our Houston law offices at (800) 489-2216 or request a free online case evaluation today.