If your loved one died working offshore, you can file a lawsuit. Under the Jones Act, some offshore workers’ family members can sue their deceased loved one’s employer for compensation for their death and related expenses.
The Jones Act is a federal law that allows seamen and their families to pursue financial awards through personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. This process is different than the one for most onshore workers, who seek awards for work-related injuries and deaths through workers’ compensation insurance claims.
Employers Must Protect Offshore Workers with a Reasonably Safe Workplace
Those employed on working vessels face a variety of job hazards, including:
- Fall risks
- Heavy lifting
- Danger of drowning
- Potentially delayed access to medical care
- Slippery surfaces
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Heavy equipment
If your loved one died while working offshore, you can file a lawsuit if their employer’s negligence caused their fatal accident. Employers of offshore workers have a legal duty to protect their employees by providing a safe working environment. A work environment may be unsafe if:
- It lacks safety equipment
- It has broken or poorly maintained equipment
- It requires exposure to toxic or harmful chemicals or substances
- Employees are sleep deprived
- Workers do not have adequate protection against assault
- Workers have not been properly trained
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Proving Your Case
As with any wrongful death lawsuit, you will have to prove negligence led to your loved one’s death. You will also need to show your loved one’s final injuries resulted in monetary losses. We may do this using evidence such as:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Expert testimony
- Witnesses’ statements
- Your loved one’s employment records
Depending on the nature of your loved one’s accident, you may also have a claim against a third party. Our attorneys can investigate the cause of your loved one’s accident and determine liability. A lawyer with our firm can also help you build your case using the available evidence.
Seeking Compensation on Your Loved One’s Behalf
Severe injuries and occupational illnesses can lead to costly medical bills. You may also face the loss of your deceased family member’s income. A wrongful death lawsuit may allow you to recover your loved one’s final health care expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
You may recover the costs of medical treatment related to your family member’s final injuries. These may include:
- Emergency transportation
- Emergency treatment
- Medical procedures
- Funeral and burial expenses
Your settlement or verdict may include compensation for your loved one’s lost wages. As a survivor, you may be able to seek awards for the loss of their future financial support and household contributions. You may also get coverage for any personal property damaged during your loved one’s fatal accident.
You may seek damages for the physical pain and emotional suffering your loved one endured before their death. You may also receive coverage for:
- Emotional pain
- Mental suffering
- Loss of support
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
You Have a Limited Amount of Time to Seek Damages
According to 46 U.S.C. §30106, a provision of the Jones Act, you generally have three years from the time of your loved one’s death to file a lawsuit. If you do not take legal action within this time, you may be unable to seek compensation.
To pursue a lawsuit, your loved one’s offshore employment must fall under the Jones Act. To qualify, your loved one must have spent a significant amount of time working on a floating vessel capable of movement. The ship must operate on navigable waters, including oceans, rivers, or lakes. Your family member’s fatal accident must have occurred while performing their job duties.
If you do not qualify for a lawsuit under the Jones Act, you may be able to pursue financial awards through the Longshore and Harborworkers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). Our firm has attorneys familiar with maritime injuries who can help you understand your options.
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Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Case?
You may want to hire a lawyer to lead your wrongful death claim. Cases involving the Jones Act, the LHWCA, and other maritime-related statutes may be particularly complicated. Wrongful death claims are generally a challenge for the plaintiff, too. You and your loved ones may:
- Be experiencing significant grief
- Be dealing with the decedent’s estate
- Be occupied with other day-to-day responsibilities
- Have little time to dedicate to a wrongful death case
- Want to avoid re-experiencing the details of your loved one’s wrongful death
And yet, a wrongful death demands justice. For these reasons, many surviving victims of a wrongful death choose to hire a lawyer to handle their case. Our law firm has familiarity with wrongful death claims and resources to use on your behalf.
What Type of Lawyer Should I Hire for an Offshore Wrongful Death Case?
You should hire a personal injury lawyer for a wrongful death claim. You’ll want to vet your prospective attorney before you hire them. You will generally want a lawyer or law firm that:
- Has a presence in the region where your loved one passed away
- Is licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where your wrongful death case will unfold
- Has a tangible record of winning cases, including those similar to yours
- Has positive client reviews
- Makes you feel valued during the consultation process
A free consultation is an important step in the vetting process. You will have the opportunity to speak to one or more team members from a firm. At this point, you may ask any questions you have about your case, the firm, or any other relevant topics. The responses you receive and your general interaction with the firm may establish your comfort level.
If you’re not satisfied with the experience of a free consultation, you may want to speak with another firm.
What Will a Lawyer Do for Me?
The attorneys from our firm do what our clients need us to do. Each client has a different story and different needs and requests. In every case, we seek a fair financial recovery for our clients.
Our general duties in offshore wrongful death cases include:
- Speaking with you and your loved ones to record your accounts and understand your losses
- Determining the financial recovery your family deserves
- Dealing with insurance companies, other attorneys, and any other parties to your case
- Preserving all evidence, witness accounts, and case-related paperwork for use during settlement negotiations
- Completing settlement negotiations
- Protecting your loved one’s dignity and your family’s rights
We may need to go to trial. If this is the case, expect us to handle your trial from start to finish. Our team will seek a fair recovery as efficiently as possible.
Your family does not need to worry about the legal aspects of your loved one’s passing. You have other responsibilities to tend to. Let our team assist you while you worry about other things.
An Attorney at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers Can Handle Your Wrongful Death Case
Maritime injury law is complex. Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers has helped past clients settle their maritime injury claims successfully.
If you choose to work with our firm, you owe us nothing unless we win compensation for you. To learn more about how we can assist you, contact us today for a free consultation.