Offshore workers are subject to numerous hazards each day on the job. Dangerous machinery, slippery surfaces, and harsh elements are just a few of the risks inherent in the field. Like other industries, offshore workers need and deserve access to benefits if they are injured on the job. However, work injury claims are under a different jurisdiction for offshore workers; normal workers’ compensation laws do not apply to them. Rather, maritime law guarantees them certain rights and benefits.
Maritime law is a unique, complex area of the law. Jurisdiction can be tricky to ascertain, and many workers in the maritime industry are not clear on what their rights are or how to go about collecting compensation when they sustain an injury at work. These laws are what we consider when reviewing your individual injury case. We look at the injuries sustained during employment as a seaman and then decide which path to take to see you earn compensation for your injuries. There are several acts that fall under the maritime law category:
- Jones Act
- Limitation of Liability Act
- Longshoreman & Harbor Workers Compensation Act
- Death on the High Seas Act
Knowing Your Rights
As an injured maritime worker, you must know your rights. To avoid paying compensation, an employer may ask you to sign documents, see a particular doctor, or to give a recorded statement. To ensure you can file for compensation, consult our attorneys first. Most of your offshore rights during an accident center on medical care. When an accident occurs, you will have medical expenses, loss of income as well as pain and suffering. The assessment by the doctor will help to determine the amount of compensation you are provided.
You have the right to choose your doctor for your injury. Your employer may try to tell you otherwise. You should see a doctor that you feel comfortable with and trust to handle your healthcare needs. Your employer does not have the right to tell you to see a particular doctor.
You also have the right to refuse to sign paperwork by an insurance adjuster of the company. You may be visited while in the hospital by the company insurance adjuster and asked to sign paperwork. You do not have to do this. The benefits you will be provided are dependent on the injury assessment by the physician. You should always be wary of signing any paperwork when subject to an injury in the maritime industry. Our attorneys can review any paperwork you are provided to help you better understand your legal rights and what you should or should not do.
You are also not required to give a recorded statement. You have the right to medical benefits despite who is at fault for the accident. These are just a few of the rights that you have as an injured maritime employer. It is essential to understand these rights in case you are involved in an accident so that you can file for compensation if the option applies to your case.
Employee Protection by Maritime Law
If the maritime law was not in place, a seaman would have to fight on their own to seek compensation for the injury sustained while on the job. With the maritime law in place, when a seaman is sick or injured on the vessel, the owner is required to provide reimbursement for their losses. Until the seaman is recovered, the employer has to provide for their condition. The court sees the obligation as one that a vessel owner must fulfill for the seaman onboard. Such employees can recover full wages for the time they were onboard the ship, despite the injuries or illness sustained.
Most people equate offshore work with seamen, or crew members and captains. However, there are actually numerous types of jobs protected by maritime law. In fact, various legislative acts cover anyone who works on or around navigable waters of the U.S. to some degree.
In addition to handling injury cases for workers under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), our firm also handles claims and lawsuits for all types of New Orleans offshore maritime workers who sustain injuries in both near-shore and deep-water operations. Examples of workers we assist include:
- Crew members, deckhands, officers, and operators of all types of vessels including tug boats and push boats, offshore supply boats, offshore platforms, spars, crew boats, drilling barges, and jack-up rigs
- Oil rig and natural gas extraction workers
- Workers on artificial islands and floating dry docks
- Wind turbine workers
- Rig mechanics, ballast control men, rig welders and electricians, watchstanders, and rig medics
Benefits For Work Injuries
The rights and benefits you are entitled to for work injuries depend on the nature of your job, the location/jurisdiction in which you work, and the specific maritime laws that apply to you. Some of the laws involved in maritime cases include the LHWCA, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). The two most common types of claims we handle for offshore workers fall under the Jones Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).
- Jones Act: The Jones Act applies to workers who are “seamen” under federal laws. Essentially, this law provides basic rights and benefits to crew members and captains of moving vessels on navigable waters.
- OCSLA: The Jones Act applies to workers on vessels that are in navigation, but what about workers of stationary offshore structures? This is where the OCSLA comes in. The OCSLA extends benefits to other workers injured in offshore activities on the outer continental shelf. It provides protection to workers on certain permanent and temporary offshore facilities, structures, and devices, including oilrigs, drydocks, and turbines. OSCLA jurisdiction extends three miles off any state coast.
Best Avenue of Recovery
The best way to recover your losses and claim your benefits depends on your unique situation. For help seeking the maximum amount possible, consult with a maritime attorney at our firm for counsel. Injured offshore maritime workers or their families are welcomed to call Cueria Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation at their convenience.
We have nearly 30 years’ experience helping injured people recover settlements and benefits — and we do it with passion, care, and professionalism. Contact us today at (504)-525-5211 and let us review your case, explain your rights, and then help you secure the funds you need and deserve.