No industry is free from occasional injury or accidents on the job. However, the maritime industry involves more accidents and poses more personal risks to its workers than most others. For example, you are far less likely to slip and fall walking to a desk in an office than if you were walking on the drenched deck of a ship rolling over waves during a storm.
As a maritime worker, you do not have worker’s compensation like the employees of other industries. You will most likely need to file an injury claim or even a lawsuit against your employer to receive any compensation for an injury. Our maritime injury lawyers in Lawtell can help you with every aspect of your maritime injury claim or lawsuit.
Common Causes of Maritime Accidents
Some dangers may seem obvious, while others can come out of nowhere. Storms and equipment failure pose common risks to maritime workers. Some of the other risks can include:
- Extreme working conditions, including exposure to frigid temperatures
- Untrained crew members
- Slips and falls
- Exhaustion and heavy workload when there aren’t enough staff
- Stress-related illnesses
- Chemical hazards
- Fires and electricity mishaps from faulty wiring
- Older vessels breaking, general unseaworthiness
- Improper maintenance of safety equipment
- Lack of safety standards
Such hazards can come up in an instant, creating an unsafe environment for all. Careless crewmates can also create hazards, such as ignoring unsecured equipment. Supervisors may act with negligence, cultivating a workplace environment full of risk.
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Common Maritime Injuries
These unsafe situations can easily bring about physical and mental trauma such as:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injury
- Crushed fingers and feet
- Depression and anxiety
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What to Do After a Maritime Injury
For your safety and to help your lawyer build a strong case, the following steps can be essential after your maritime accident.
- Get medical attention. Your health is important above all else. Seek medical help immediately, even if your injuries seem minor.
- Report the injury to your employer. It is crucial to do this and to do it as soon as possible.
- Gather evidence and keep records. Take photos of the injury scene, including pictures of the equipment you were using. Write down the contact info for any eyewitnesses.
- Do not talk about the accident or claim with anyone except your attorney. Do not post on social media. Do not sign any documents or accept settlements or payments without speaking to your lawyer first.
The Jones Act vs the LHWCA
The maritime industry has hundreds of different kinds of jobs. In each one, maritime hazards pose many risks to the workers’ safety. In case of accidents and injury, the federal government has developed legal protection for the workers of the maritime industry. The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) are two such laws that provide workers with avenues to pursue compensation.
The first law is most commonly known as the Jones Act. This law was established in 1920 and allows seamen to sue their employer (or other responsible parties) for injuries received on the job.
Understanding whether you are a “seaman” will help you know whether or not you qualify under the Jones Act. The term “seaman” refers to anyone who spends significant time (30% or more) on a navigating vessel, contributing to the ship’s work. The vessel must be in operation, afloat, currently in navigable waters, and capable of moving. Navigable waters include lakes and rivers in addition to the ocean.
The LHWCA covers any maritime employee not considered a seaman, including longshore workers, ship-repairers, ship-breakers, shipbuilders, and harbor construction workers. The LHWCA helps these workers to seek compensation for injuries received on the job.
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Deadlines for the Jones Act and the LHWCA
Under the Jones Act, you have three years from the accident date to file your lawsuit, and you must report the injury to your employer within seven days. Under the LHWCA, you have up to one year from the date of your accident to file an injury claim, and you must report the accident to your employer within 30 days.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Pursue?
You can pursue reimbursements for several types of expenses. The financial burden of a maritime injury can be challenging to bear. Your lawyer can help you pursue compensation for some of the following damages. Depending on your specific situation, you and your lawyer could pursue:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost enjoyment of life
How a Lawtell Maritime Injury Lawyer Can Help
Our lawyers can help with a multitude of issues. For example, they could help gather evidence about your injury and prove the at-fault party’s liability. Your lawyer can also handle all communications between you, your employer, your employer’s legal team, and the insurance company.
Our Lawtell attorneys can also help you understand your rights and how to protect them. We can explain any legal jargon or concepts that you might find confusing. We can handle the hard work of your claim so that you can rest and focus on healing.
Can I Afford a Lawtell Maritime Injury Lawyer?
We do not charge any upfront fees for reviewing your case and determining its viability. Here at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers, we work on a contingency basis, which means we only get paid if you win. If we do win, and you receive compensation, we simply take our legal fees out of a percentage of your total settlement package.
Call Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers Today
It is not uncommon to be injured when working in the maritime industry. Injuries of any kind can create a significant financial burden that can be difficult to overcome. Under this kind of stress, taking on your own legal case can be overwhelming. Let us take that stress off your shoulders. We can handle your case while you rest and recover. Call Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.