LEAGUE CITY JONES ACT & MERCHANT MARITIME LAW LAWYERS
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The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is better known to historians and maritime attorneys as the Jones Act.
Along with a variety of provisions designed to govern domestic and international sea and waterway trade, the Jones Act also provides protections for workers on ships and allows them the right to sue their employers for personal injuries sustained on the job.
At Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers, our maritime lawyers work with sailors to ensure they receive the compensation they need and deserve for their injury claims. Our League City-based maritime lawyers have over 100 years of combined legal experience and can provide you with the support and representation necessary to secure maximum compensation, including maintenance and cure specific to maritime workers.
Causes of Action Under Jones Act and Maritime Law Provisions
According to the Jones Act, sailors and other shipboard employees can receive compensation for injuries sustained in the course of their duties if one of the two following conditions is applicable:
- The accident was caused by the negligence of the employer or of other employees.
- The accident occurred on an unseaworthy vessel.
These protections were not available for U.S. sailors prior to the enactment of the Jones Act.
For sailors who have been injured on the job, demonstrating the unseaworthiness of the ship on which they work can ensure that the injured parties receive full compensation for their injuries. In general, a ship is considered to be seaworthy if it meets the following criteria:
- The physical structure of the ship is in good condition and suited for its intended use.
- It is fitted with the necessary equipment and technological systems to maintain operations.
- Safety measures have been put in place to protect crew and passengers from injury.
Failures to measure up to the expected standards in any of these three areas can result in a ship being deemed unseaworthy, and thus, compensation related to your claim for injury and loss.
Negligence and Unsafe Working Conditions
Our attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of maritime law and the Jones Act. We can provide effective help for sailors, cruise ship workers, harbor workers, and oil and mineral industry workers who have been injured due to the negligence of others or because of unsafe working conditions. We have handled a broad variety of cases on behalf of injured workers, including:
- Death at sea claims
- Injury at sea claims
- Injury on coastal waterway claims
We provide legal services for sailors, shipboard workers and harbor workers to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve for injuries and losses sustained in the course of their regular duties.
We’re on your side. Contact us at (281) 645-5000 or email our team to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Who Is a Seaman?
When an oil rig accident attorney or a barge injury lawyer represents a client who experienced an injury at sea, one of the first questions deals with whether the client was a seaman when the incident occurred. Only a seaman can receive compensation under the Jones Act for an injury at sea. In addition, a beneficiary’s Jones Act lawyer must prove the victim was a seaman at the time of death at sea due to injury to obtain compensation for the family.
To have status as a seaman, a person can be a member of the crew working on fishing vessels, lay barges, crew boats, supply boats, tugs, towboats, semi-submersibles, jack-up rigs, freighters or tankers. Crew members, officers and captains are all seamen, and employees on movable or jack-up drilling rigs have seamen classifications as well. Pilots, longshoremen and people working on fixed platforms usually do not have the status of seamen, but other maritime remedies may be available for them.
To hold status as a seaman:
- An employee must be helping to accomplish the mission of the vessel or contributing to its function.
- The individual must have an association with a vessel in navigation, or with a group of vessels in navigation, that is significant in nature as well as in length of time. A seaman’s association with the vessel in navigation must be relatively permanent, and the employee must be on the ship obviously and chiefly to provide assistance with navigation or contribute to the ship’s work.
- Working on a vessel for a short time does not make a land-based employee a seaman. The employee must meet the duration of association with a vessel and nature of work on the vessel requirements to be a member of the crew considered a seaman.
- A Jones Act lawyer must distinguish between land-based workers with only infrequent associations with vessels in navigation and sea-based workers who may go ashore occasionally during their employment.
- Courts should consider all the circumstances of a person’s employment rather than only the situation at the time of injury at sea to determine the employee’s status as a seaman.
- Seaman status depends on the nature of an employee’s service, their position as a crew member, their association with the vessel and its function in navigable waters rather than on the site where the injury at sea occurs.
- An employee must have worked at least 30 percent of their working time on a vessel in navigable waters to qualify as a seaman.
Statutes providing special protections for seamen do not define the term, so a Jones Act lawyer must analyze case law to find a general rule to determine the status of each individual who claims to be a seaman.
If you have received an injury at sea and have questions regarding your possible status as a seaman under the Jones Act and Maritime Law, a maritime attorney with the Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers has the specialization necessary to discuss the requirements as they apply to your case.
We’re on your side. Contact us at (281) 645-5000 or email our team to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Types of Jones Act and Maritime Law Accidents
Working on an offshore oil rig is a dangerous job. The risks associated with working in these conditions can be tied to the requirement to work 12 hours or more each day, the fact that people working on oil rigs are isolated with combustible materials and inaccessibility to assistance in case of an emergency. It is not uncommon for a person working in such conditions to experience an injury at sea. As an example 11 people died as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig accident on April 20, 2010, and others were injured.
There are safety measures that are used on oil rigs to prevent injury or lessen the severity of any injuries that may occur. For example, people who work on these rigs are able to access a pod that is lowered into the water when it is not safe to be on the rig. These pods are watertight and are able to keep up to 10 people safe while help is on the way.
Unfortunately, there may be emergency situations on an oil rig that do not allow crew members to get to safety before an injury is sustained. Explosions may not be a regular occurrence on oil rigs, but the few explosions that have happened have resulted in severe injuries and deaths at sea. There is no way for crew members to stay 100 percent safe while working on an oil rig.
Emergencies that are deadly for crew members are rare, but people are injured on oil rigs more frequently. Working near heavy equipment can lead to injuries related to falling equipment or malfunctions. Small fires or explosions could lead to burns and illness from smoke inhalation. People who work in these conditions are entitled to compensation under the Jones Act.
Even the most diligent crew members can experience injuries in the workplace. The nature of the work on an oil rig makes it dangerous, and many of the risks associated with working on an oil rig cannot be fully avoided.
An oil rig accident attorney can help seamen who are injured while working in these conditions. Compensation for the costs associated with sustaining an injury at sea may be available, and it is important to remember that the Jones Act covers people who work at sea in a much more comprehensive way than workers’ compensation insurance.
Cases involving a death at sea are a possibility when family members seek compensation after losing a loved one. Someone will have to pay for funeral expenses, and dependents who are left without an income because of a death related to an oil rig accident may be entitled to long-term compensation.
All seamen who receive offshore oil rig injuries should consult with an oil rig accident attorney to review their claim for qualification under the Jones Act. Specialized maritime lawyers possess the knowledge and skill sets necessary to collect the requisite evidence to prove the required negligence to affect recovery. An oil rig platform injury attorney with Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers will successfully and aggressively navigate your case through the complexities of a Jones Act claim for full compensation.
Barge Injury Lawyer — Barge Accidents
If you are a seaman injured in a barge accident as a result of your employer’s negligence or the unseaworthiness of the vessel, you may be entitled, under the Jones Act, to compensation for past and future lost wages and pain and suffering damages. Under general maritime law, you may also be entitled to compensation for inadequate medical care by the employer pursuant to the principle of maintenance and cure.
Maritime law is complicated. If you have been injured in an accident on a barge, contact a barge injury lawyer with experience in maritime law and more specifically in Jones Act cases for a thorough review of the legal issues surrounding your injury. Many attorneys purport to handle Jones Act cases like workman’s compensation, but only an experienced maritime attorney can successfully navigate a Jones Act case for full recovery.
Deckhand Injury — Jones Act
Deckhands and crewmen injured in an accident on a vessel may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act and general maritime law. The Jones Act recognizes the dangers posed by maritime work and the high rate of injury among seaman. Even slight negligence by an employer which contributes to a seaman’s injury can support a Jones Act claim.
Workers who have received a deckhand injury in a ship accident should seek the counsel of experienced Jones Act maritime lawyers for a review of all avenues of compensation, which may include three legal avenues: the principle of maintenance and cure, the doctrine of unseaworthiness and the Jones Act.
As with most cases regarding compensation for an injury endured on the job, there is a time limit to file your claim. Do not delay. Contact a maritime attorney with Burwell Nebout to review your claim and begin protecting your right of recovery.
Ship Accident Lawyer — Jones Act
Shipping of any type is still a hazardous and dangerous business, sometimes resulting in fatal ship accidents. Seamen receiving ship accident injuries may qualify under the Jones Act in maritime law for full compensation of damages if resulting from the employer’s negligence.
In addition for injuries caused by negligence, a seaman injured in a shipping accident may also have a claim against the vessel’s owner on the basis that the vessel was not seaworthy and against the employer for failing to provide adequate medical care.
Experienced Jones Act attorneys can aid a seaman with an injury claim, and maximize recovery of maintenance and cure due under maritime law. Whether the injury is a construction or deckhand injury, a proven maritime attorney will aggressively pursue all possible sources of recovery for an injured seaman.
Boat Injury Lawyer — Jones Act Attorneys
Boat accidents involving recreational boats such as jet boats or cigar boats occur frequently on all waterways in our country. If you have been injured in an accident on a recreational boat, you may have a personal injury claim or something more, depending on your physical location at the time of injury or whether you were working on the boat.
If you are a maritime worker who is involved in a boat accident, your claim may qualify under the Jones Act in maritime law for a larger benefit than available under workman’s compensation. The Jones Act was created to protect seaman in hazardous working conditions and compensate them for injuries caused by any negligence by their employer.
Whether you have been injured in a recreational boat accident or as a maritime worker, the law firm of Burwell Nebout has both personal injury attorney and maritime attorneys as needed to review your claim for compensation.
Platform Injury — Oil Rig Accident Lawyer
Oil rig platform accidents can be extremely complicated from a legal standpoint. If a worker is involved in a non-fixed platform accident, usually known as an oil rig accident, the Jones Act may apply under maritime law. However, if the accident occurs on a fixed oil platform, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) and general maritime law will apply.
A specialized oil rig platform injury attorney will review your claim to advise you which law is applicable for your injury. Each law provides different levels of compensation available to a worker, but both laws have a limited window in which to file your claim and begin the legal process for recovery.
Any worker involved in an oil rig platform accident, whether fixed or non-fixed, should seek independent legal advice from an oil rig accident attorney, specializing in not only maritime law, but in oil platform cases. This type of maritime attorney will aggressively navigate your case through the complexities of maritime law for full recovery under the law.
We’re on your side. Contact us at (281) 645-5000 or email our team to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Injury at Sea
Offshore workers know they risk serious injury at sea as part of their day-to-day jobs. The Jones Act reflects that reality of maritime work with high standards of protection and compensation due to the injured worker. To obtain the full compensation provided under the Jones Act, a specialty offshore injury attorney is necessary to handle the many complex and convoluted legal issues.
To establish proof of employer negligence, one of the requirements in a Jones Act claim, an experienced offshore injury lawyer will conduct an immediate and thorough investigation and analysis of the relevant facts surrounding your injury. With the stiff criteria and complex legal process involved in a Jones Act claim, the lawyer you choose should determine the success of your recovery.
Many personal injury firms may allege to be competent to handle a Jones Act claim, but an offshore accidents attorney has special knowledge of the Jones Act and maritime law in order to successfully navigate an offshore injury claim through the legal complexities of the applicable federal law. The attorneys with the Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers have the requisite experience as an offshore injury lawyer to successfully represent workers with an injury at sea.
Death at Sea
People who have lost a loved one who was working on a vessel or oil rig may not be aware of their rights under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). This act allows certain individuals to recover losses when a death at sea claims the life of a close relative. Maritime law firms can provide these individuals with an experienced offshore injury lawyer who is knowledgeable about DOHSA.
DEATH ON HIGH SEAS ACT (DOSHA)
A person is covered under DOHSA if they are killed in international waters while working. Seamen who die as the result of a negligent act on the part of another person could be leaving loved ones behind without their financial support, and family members may be eligible to collect compensation for lost income and to pay final expenses.
Financial damages are awarded under DOHSA. Spouses and children may be given compensation to pay for ongoing financial needs related to maintaining a home and paying for basic necessities. DOHSA allows some family members to collect damages related to the amount of time that the deceased would have spent helping with household tasks. A monetary value will be assigned in relation to the amount of time that the seamen would have helped with child care, housework, shopping and other household tasks. It is important to note the DOHSA does not provide compensation for the loss of companionship or support suffered by family members who are left behind after a death at sea.
Eligibility for Damages Under DOHSA
Family members must be dependents of the deceased in order to be eligible for damages. Spouses and minor children are typically eligible, and some people who do not fall under these categories may still be able to collect compensation if they can prove that they are dependents of the deceased.
Death at sea also applies to pilots who are killed while flying 12 or more miles away from the coastline. Family members of pilots who are killed over the ocean may be eligible for damages.
The Importance of Hiring an Attorney
Maritime law firms are able to assist family members after a seaman is killed at sea because these attorneys have specialized experience and knowledge. Family members should consult with an attorney after the death of a loved one in order to understand their rights under DOHSA and other laws related to injuries and deaths that occur at sea.
Attorneys at personal injury firms may attempt to persuade the family during their difficult time that a maritime specialist is not needed. But, in this complex area of law, the family should have the peace of mind that a specialized offshore injury lawyer, with the knowledge and experience necessary to fully recover all damages, will bring them.
In the event of a death at sea, the spouse and family members of the deceased are entitled to an award for any economic losses they have suffered by reason of the seaman’s death. A specialized offshore injury attorney, after reviewing the case, may find that the family is eligible for more specific compensation than economic losses according to exceptions. To maximize recovery for a family, it is imperative that the claim be reviewed by a lawyer at an offshore injury law firm soon after the accident to secure all avenues of compensation.
Injury on Coastal Waterways
When a seaman suffers an injury on the intercoastal waterway, they may be protected under the Jones Act Maritime law. All claims for a maritime worker who is employed to work aboard a vessel should be reviewed by an offshore accidents attorney for possible coverage under the Jones Act. Offshore maritime firms with attorneys specializing in the Jones Act can steer a seaman’s claim to properly maximize recovery in the event of a maritime injury.
A qualified offshore injury attorney may direct an injured seaman to all available avenues of recovery, including the employer, the vessel’s owner and possibly against a third-party contractor. This specialized maritime lawyer possesses the knowledge and skill sets necessary to collect necessary evidence to prove the required negligence to affect recovery. Many personal injury firms purport to handle Jones Act cases, but only an experienced offshore injury lawyer can successfully navigate a Jones Act case for full recovery.
Maintenance and Cure for Injuries at Sea
Working on a vessel that operates on the open water is an innately dangerous job. Maritime workers who suffer from an injury at sea are entitled to certain remedies under the law. It is essential for anyone who has been injured at sea to contact a maritime attorney for help. These legal professionals focus their energy on Jones Act maritime cases and are knowledgeable about filing a claim.
What Does Maintenance and Cure Mean?
One legal option that a person has after being injured while working in a maritime job is maintenance and cure. This remedy under the law allows seamen and other maritime workers to collect compensation for daily living expenses when they are unable to work due to an injury or severe illness-related to work. Maritime workers are also allowed to choose their own medical professional for treatment options following a work-related injury or illness, and any medical expenses that are incurred during the treatment process must be reimbursed.
Maintenance refers to the basic expenses that a seaman incurs. For example, food, rent and utilities would all fall under the category of maintenance. There are no legal guidelines that determine a set amount that must be paid to seamen in order to cover necessities. The rates for maintenance tend to be very low, and most people only receive about $15 to $30 a day. Expenses incurred by family members are not taken into consideration.
Cure refers to all expenses related to the medical treatment of the injury or illness. This compensation must cover initial and ongoing expenses that are related to the injury or illness that occurred at sea. Cure coverage pays for emergency medical treatment, surgeries, rehabilitation, physical therapy and hospital stays. Some seamen are even eligible to recover incidental costs such as transportation costs incurred to get to and from a hospital.
The benefit of filing for maintenance and cure is that this compensation is not tied to negligence claims. Injuries that are not related to the negligence of another party are still covered by maintenance and cure, and seamen are even allowed to collect under this legal remedy if they are responsible for their own injuries.
You Need Legal Help
Suffering from an injury while working at sea is often the start of an uphill battle for injured maritime workers. Employers or owners of vessels may attempt to avoid financial liability — therefore, it is important for injured maritime workers to consult a law firm that specializes in maritime law. Professionals with experience in maritime law understand the remedies afforded to workers that are related to the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act — Oil Rig Accident Attorney
Congress enacted the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act in 1953 to extend workers compensation to workers on drilling platforms. The law increases protection for workers in key mineral-mining and oil-drilling industries to ensure that companies could find willing workers for dangerous jobs on the outer continental shelf. In some cases, questions arise as to state jurisdiction for accidents on federal land.
The United States claims ownership of the submerged lands on the outer shelf, and the area has been divided into four leasing sections, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Alaska and Gulf of Mexico regions. The United States lays claim to the territory because the regions fall outside any state’s territorial waters. An oil rig accident lawyer has stronger grounds and increased options for initiating wrongful death or injury claims due to the law.
Cases Where OCSLA Applies
OCSLA applies to many types of accidents at sea, and maritime law firms can help you understand your rights and protections under the law. Ships only traveling through OCS waters usually fall under maritime law, and ship workers fall under the Jones Act. OCSLA applies under the following conditions:
- Accidents taking place on oil rigs, drilling platforms, artificial islands or other structures that are erected in the seabed
- Artificial structures in the OCS that are not ships or vessels
- Devices on the outer shelf that cause injuries or accidents
- People working on developing resources in the OCS even when working on land
- Judicial Interpretation Expands Jurisdiction
The law extends but does not limit protections under state law or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Recent court decisions have interpreted the law to offer protection to OCS workers going about legitimate duties on land to further outer continental shelf development. For example, injuries that result from recycling materials from scrapped OCS installations or helicopter injuries while traveling could qualify.
The Supreme Court sided with the plaintiff for an injury on land to a worker who was engaged in OCS-related activity.
A 2005 amendment to the law includes injuries caused by cleaning up oil spills that resulted from offshore drilling.
The law was enacted when many offshore platforms were permanent structures, but modern technology has increased the number of temporary work platforms and artificial islands.
Getting Sound Legal Advice
Everyone has heard about the dangers of offshore drilling, such as the high-profile BP disaster in 2010. The explosion resulted in deaths and serious injuries. Offshore accidents might fall under the nearest state’s jurisdiction, and because of the complexity of OCSLA or other applicable laws, you need expert legal advice to protect your interests if you or a loved one suffers injuries or death related to drilling and OCS exploration.
Longshore and Harborworkers’ Compensation Act
Maritime jobs can expose employees to certain risks that may result in an injury or death. Workers’ compensation coverage allows maritime employees to file claims for compensation following an injury. Anyone who has suffered an injury at sea should consult with a maritime attorney for more information about his or her rights. Maritime law firms are able to guide maritime workers through the process of filing claims.
An Overview of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is intended to protect dock workers, longshoremen, port crane operators, shipyard workers and stevedores. Provisions under this act give these workers compensation for medical bills and other financial losses that are directly related to work injuries. Family members who are left behind after a loved one is killed may also be eligible to collect compensation under LHWCA.
LHWCA requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the same way as employers that operate companies on land. Employers carry insurance in case a worker is injured, and this insurance pays compensation to employees when they are injured while on the job.
Eligibility for Coverage Under LHWCA
Workers must be maritime employees who cannot be classified as seamen in order to be eligible for LHWCA coverage. Seamen are eligible for compensation under the Jones Act. Maritime attorneys are able to help workers understand the distinction before filing a claim.
Most employees who work at a port are covered, but it is essential for employees to do maritime work in order to be considered eligible. For example, administrative employees who work at a port would not be covered by LHWCA.
Benefits Provided by LHWCA
Maritime workers who are injured on the job may wonder what kind of benefits they could expect to receive when filing a claim. Benefits that are covered under LHWCA include health care costs related to the injury, disability benefits if an injury makes it impossible for an individual to work, and rehabilitation costs. Family members of the deceased may be eligible to collect wrongful death benefits.
Workers who are injured should contact a maritime law firm for guidance. Maritime attorneys are skilled and knowledgeable about coverage afforded to maritime workers under LHWCA. Understanding whether an individual is covered by the Jones Act, LHWCA or other workers’ compensation insurance can be confusing. Attorneys with experience in cases that involve working at sea can help individuals understand their eligibility for benefits following an injury.
Please contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. We’re on your side. Contact us at (281) 645-5000 or email our team to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Suffering an injury at sea can lead to medical bills, lost wages and other financial hardships. Family members who lose a loved one at sea may struggle if the deceased was the primary source of financial support in the household. Maritime attorneys are able to help people who are impacted by an injury or death at sea understand their rights.
The Jones Act offers protection to seamen who are injured or killed at sea, but other maritime laws apply to these situations if unseaworthiness is involved. The reason that maritime laws must be referenced in relation to unseaworthiness is because the Jones Act provides protection related to the negligence of employers in providing a safe vessel. Unseaworthiness claims must be brought against the person who owns the vessel involved in the incident.
Vessel owners are legally responsible for ensuring that their vessels remain seaworthy. Seaworthiness implies that the vessel has been properly maintained in order to ensure that anyone who works on the vessel is kept safe from accidents that could result in injury or death.
Examples of unsafe conditions aboard a vessel include:
- Walking paths that are slippery
- The omission of fire safety equipment aboard the vessel
- The omission of first aid equipment aboard the vessel
- An inadequate number of life vests for the number of people who are aboard the vessel
- Unsafe food or drinking water
- Tools, equipment, or machinery with dangerous defects
- Inadequate training guidelines for crew members
- An inadequate number of crew members on board
- Lack of criminal history checks for crew members
This list above is not exhaustive. Any incident that occurs because a vessel was not maintained properly can be considered to be related to unseaworthiness, but there are some instances in which the incident does not involve a failure to upkeep the vessel. Attorneys working for maritime law firms can discuss the types of incidents that make a seaman eligible for damages.
Hiring an Attorney for Unseaworthiness Claims
Gulf of Mexico injury at sea attorneys are knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to filing unseaworthiness claims. These professionals can walk clients through the process to determine eligibility and collect compensation that properly reflects the losses of an injured person or family members who are left behind after a seaman is killed on the job.
It may not be apparent that a vessel is unseaworthy upon first glance. Additional evidence may need to be gathered in order to determine whether the owner of the vessel failed to properly maintain the vessel and equipment used by crew members to protect the safety of everyone on board. Victims of accidents at sea who plan to file an unseaworthiness claim need the assistance of attorneys to prove that an incident occurred due to unseaworthiness of a vessel. After a consultation with a Burwell Nebout Jones Act lawyer, our personal commitment and aggressive representation of your case will be evident.