The maritime attorneys with Daspit Law Firm are experienced in a wide variety of personal injury practices. Because we are based in Houston, Texas, we often work with maritime employees who work in the Gulf Coast, Biloxi, Gulfport, New Orleans, and other coastal areas in the U.S. Maritime law and maritime personal injury law are very different from traditional personal injury suits.
Maritime accidents are often more complex, the injuries are more severe, and the laws which protect these employees are not the same as other personal injury laws. If you are a maritime worker and have been injured in an accident, you probably have a lot of questions. Here, we have provided some answers.
I’ve Been Injured on the Job. What’s Next?
The first thing you should do is file an accident report with your employer. In most cases, you are required to do this within 7 days of the accident. Whether you were injured onshore or offshore will determine your options for seeking compensation. Keep track of your reports and medical expenses while you are receiving treatment. If you believe your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
What Is the Difference Between an Onshore and Offshore Accident?
If you are a longshoreman or harbor worker and are injured while working on a dock, pier, shipyard, oilrig, or dry-docked ship, you will most likely be covered under the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). If you are injured while at sea on a “vessel in navigation,” you will be protected under the Jones Act. Keep in mind the vessel does not have to be moving; it just has to have the ability to move.
How Are the Two Acts Different?
The LHWCA protects maritime workers who do not work on ships. This Act works like traditional workers’ comp in that you can receive benefits regardless of fault. However, it offers more benefits to injured maritime workers than traditional workers’ comp would. For example, you can collect a higher percentage of your weekly wage (66 2/3%) as compared to workers’ comp (60%). You may also be able to receive permanent partial disability, which regular workers’ comp does not allow.
The Jones Act protects maritime workers, like crewmen and captains of ships, injured while at sea. This act functions more like a personal injury suit. You will be expected to prove negligence to receive compensation. However, the Jones Act is much more lenient with negligence, and allows you to collect even if your employer is only 1% at fault. You will be eligible to receive compensation to pay for your medical expenses and cost of living expenses, like rent, utilities, and food.
How Do I Know if My Injury Is Caused by Someone’s Negligence?
There are many reasons your injury could be caused by negligence. Basically, employers and employees are required to provide and maintain a safe work environment. Any violation of this, whether due to improperly maintained equipment, failure to implement safety measures, or an impaired co-worker, constitutes negligence. Consult with a personal injury attorney to be sure.
When Do I Need an Attorney?
In some cases, an LHWCA claim is all you need to file. If the insurer offers to pay your benefits right away, and you believe it is offering an adequate amount, you do not need the help of an attorney. However, there are many cases where the insurer will refuse benefits or will try to pay you very little compensation. This is when you need to contact an attorney to help you build a case against the insurer. If you were injured offshore and are filing a Jones Act Claim, you will need an attorney to help you navigate the complexities of a personal injury case.