If you make a living working on a dock, vessel, or offshore platform, you understand how unpredictable and dangerous your job can be. The risks may seem worth the reward until a severe work-related accident sidelines you permanently. Now you are left without a way to earn a paycheck while the medical bills pile up.
You may be disappointed to find out that workers’ compensation does not apply to longshore and harbor workers, but not all is lost. Norris Injury Lawyers has your back! We have been fighting to protect maritime workers for over 40 years, and we can help you too.
Call Norris Injury Lawyers today at (800) 477-7510. Our team of experienced maritime injury lawyers is standing by 24/7 for a free consultation on your claim.
Maritime Laws and Types of Maritime Injury Claims
Maritime laws are a set of federal laws that govern various international and domestic activities both onshore and off. These laws exist to protect the vessels, goods, and people involved in these activities. They also enforce treating seaman and civilians fairly. If they are injured during any maritime activity, they are able to seek money damages.
If you are a vessel or dockworker and you have suffered a maritime injury, you may be wondering what your options are. Thankfully, there are protections put in place by the federal government to protect those who want to make one of the various types of maritime injury claims.
Jones Act claims
The Jones Act, part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, mostly refers to guidelines regarding the transportation of goods between ports. Included are sections designed to protect seamen in the event of an injury. Maritime laws define a seaman as someone who spends at least 30 percent of his or her time in navigable waters. Under the Jones Act, seamen can seek injury compensation from the captain, crew, or shipowner.
To protect maritime workers, employers have a legal obligation to prove a safe place to work. This includes making sure the vessel they work on is seaworthy. If you become injured on a vessel, one of the claims you can make is an unseaworthiness claim. Your case may be difficult to prove, but maritime lawyers should be able to help with the process of providing evidence.
Maintenance and Cure claims
By law, it is required that the employer of an injured maritime worker covers his or her medical bills and living expenses. Many times, the employer may refuse to pay the entire amount due. In this case, the worker can contact a maritime injury lawyer to make a Maintenance and Cure claim.
If someone’s negligent and careless behavior caused you to become injured on the job, you can file a negligence claim. The actions of the other party make them liable for repaying you the damages they caused. For example, if you fall on a slippery deck, your employer may have been negligent for not providing a non-slip surface.
The Defense Base Act claims
The DBA is a part of the Longshore Act. It was designed to protect military contractors and subcontractors on US property. If workers get injured or develop an illness related to their work, they can make a claim for compensation.
Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you can make several claims at one time. For example, after a work injury, you may be entitled to make a Jones Act claim. You could also file a negligence claim if you were injured due to the actions of others, even against multiple parties.
The Workers’ Compensation Act
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) was created for land-based maritime workers. “Land-based” means they load ships or repair vessels and are not a part of the regular ship crew.
The benefits offered by the LHWCA include the following.
Lost wage replacement
If you lose work because you are injured, you are entitled to as much as 66.7 percent of your average weekly wage. You qualify as long as you are unable to return to work.
Medical bills and treatment
Maritime employers must have LHWCA insurance or provide their own in the event of a work-related accident. You are entitled to have all of your medical care paid for through your employer’s insurance.
No employer can punish, discriminate, or fire an employee for getting injured on the job and filing for money damages.
The LHWCA also enforces incident reporting, safety notices, sanctions, and penalties under the law. A Birmingham, AL, maritime injury lawyer is familiar with these guidelines and will be able to guide you through the process of filing a claim.
Longshore and Maritime Injury Statistics
Longshore and maritime work is dangerous and unpredictable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on the fatality rate for workers in the water transport industry, which is shown to be 4.7 times greater than the average American job. The rate of commercial fishing is even higher, at 29 times the average.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has its own safety statistics. NIOSH has been keeping records since the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act was established in 1988.
NIOSH found that the leading cause of death among commercial fishermen was vessel disasters. This accounted for half of all maritime fatalities between 2000 and 2014. At the same time, the 94 percent of fishermen who survived vessel disasters were protected by proper safety requirements.
Man overboard incidents cause fatalities as well. An overboard incident takes place when workers fall off the vessel and into the water. 53 percent of all overboard deaths happened because no one witnessed the fall. This is more often along the Gulf shores and in the Northeast.
Employers must provide adequate safety measures to keep their workers safe. These measures include every worker having access to a man overboard alarm and personal flotation device.
Should You Sue Your Employer After a Maritime Industry Injury?
In general, workers’ compensation law restricts employees from suing their employers. But there may be an exception – for example, if the Jones Act applies in your case.
Making the decision on whether you should sue your employer is not always easy. You might find yourself in a difficult situation where you are afraid of being blacklisted from the industry. If you were injured due to the negligence and carelessness of others, you have a right to be compensated.
Injured workers can receive compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Mental distress
- Property damage
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Your first move should be to contact Norris Injury Lawyers right away, to find out what the best plan of action is. In the case of a favorable insurance settlement, a full lawsuit may not be necessary, but the ultimate choice to go to court is yours. Either way, we can advise you on what to do.
How Norris Injury Lawyers Can Help You
We understand that the laws surrounding the maritime industry are complicated. That is why you should call us right away. Our experienced team of Birmingham maritime lawyers has been handling these types of cases for over 40 years.
You have very little time to waste. Once the statute of limitations runs out, you can no longer file a claim for compensation. Don’t worry – we offer a 100-percent free consultation as well as our No Fee Guarantee®. So you have nothing to lose by calling Norris Injury Lawyers today.
You can reach us at (800) 477-7510 or by filling out the online form. Our representatives are available 24/7 to speak with you.