Louisiana is well known for the size and value of its maritime industry. It ranks first in marine jobs per capita, with its maritime employees numbering almost twice those working in any other state in the country. Unfortunately, this domestic economic boom has also seen its share of maritime accidents over the years, ranging from minor to fatal.
If you’re a Hammond maritime employee who has sustained a work-related injury, a maritime injury lawyer can guide you through the legal opportunities available to marine workers. Maritime law can be confusing, but a Hammond maritime lawyer can help make sense of the complexities involved in your injury claim and guide you throughout the process.
Common Causes of Maritime Accidents
There are common factors involved in maritime accidents, which can be important in making sure it doesn’t happen again. As someone seeking accident benefits, it also helps to know the why’s and how’s of these accidents, if only because they can impact your chances of being compensated.
Here are some of the most common causes of accidents that can occur in the maritime industry:
- Overboard falls
- Electrical fires
- Poor equipment maintenance
- Errors in handling heavy cargo
- Unseaworthiness of the vessel
- Negligent hiring practices and lack of proper training
- Natural disasters
This list is far from extensive, but it shows that maritime accidents are often largely preventable with proper awareness and proactivity of both the employer and the employee.
For a free legal consultation with a maritime injury lawyer serving Hammond, call (337) 777-7777
Filing a Jones Act Lawsuit for Damages vs. Applying for LHWCA Benefits
One thing is true for most kinds of maritime accident claims: you can either file a civil lawsuit against your employer for damages or apply for benefits under the appropriate government act. In any case, the nature of your employment will determine which path is right for your circumstances.
1. Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Damages
Most workplace injuries are compensated through insurance. This is not the case when it comes to seamen. “Seamen” refers to anyone who works aboard a navigating ship and spends more than 30% of their time onboard. If you fit the legal definition of this word, whether as captain or crew of a vessel, then you can seek damages for your maritime accident by filing a civil lawsuit against your employer under The Jones Act. A Hammond maritime injury lawyer can tell you more about the Jones Act and help you pursue compensation.
Damages You Can Pursue from Your Maritime Employer
Just like any other personal injury claim, you can seek to be compensated for economic and non-economic damages. To be more specific:
- For economic damages, you may receive a monetary award that matches your ongoing and predicted medical expenses, depending on the severity of your injuries.
- For non-economic damages, the court may award you additional money to offset your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-material losses you may have experienced because of the accident.
2. Applying for Accident Benefits
If you work in the maritime industry but not necessarily as a seaman, you may be qualified to pursue benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Who Is Eligible for LHWCA Benefits?
Qualifying for LHWCA accident benefits begins with passing the Status and Situs tests. The Status test revolves around the specific tasks you do as a maritime employee. As a general rule, if your job adds to the maritime attributes of your employer’s business, you could be eligible. Examples of positions that generally pass the Status test are shipbuilders, longshoremen, ship repairmen, and waterfront crane operators. While these people perform their jobs onshore, they are active participants in the marine transport process, which forms the core of the maritime industry.
The Situs test looks into the actual place where the accident happened. If the accident happened near navigable water, the injury might be covered by the LHWCA. Common examples of maritime employees who pass the Situs test are those who work in dry docks, marine railways, shipping terminals, any area used for vessel repairs or construction, or the loading and unloading of cargo.
The Status and Situs tests alone should tell you that filing a maritime injury claim is no simple matter. Anyone without a background in maritime law can easily be confused by the vagueness of some eligibility conditions. For example, being “near navigable water” is a requirement of the Situs test, but how near is “near”? A Hammond maritime injury lawyer can help make everything clear and guide you through your claim.
Who Is Not Eligible for LHWCA Benefits?
There are several conditions to be met before you can be eligible for benefits under the LHWCA. However, if you belong to any of the groups of workers listed below, you are automatically disqualified, even if you pass the Situs and Status tests. Those excluded from LHWCA injury benefits are:
- Workers already covered by the Jones Act
- The U.S. or any foreign government employees
- Recreational ship workers
- Fish farmers and other aquaculture workers
- Workers who were drunk during their accident or whose injuries were self-inflicted
Compensatory Benefits You May Receive with the LHWCA
If eligible for benefits under the LHWCA, you could receive temporary, permanent, or partial disability benefits, money to reimburse you for hospital visits, physical therapy, or prescription medications, as well as lost pay, if you had to take time off of work to heal from your injuries.
Hammond Maritime Injury Lawyer Near Me (337) 777-7777
Call Laborde Earles Maritime Injury Lawyers Today
If you’re a maritime worker who has been injured at work, you may be in pain, under stress, and not know where to turn. At Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers, we can handle the hard work of your claim so you can focus on recovery. We also work on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay legal fees unless we win your settlement. Call Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.