Jobs on ships, oil rigs, or in shipyards or harbors often involve long hours under strenuous working conditions and have many inherent risks. If you or somebody you love suffered injury in a maritime accident, an Opelousas maritime injury lawyer could pave the way for recovering monetary losses.
The law of the sea is complex, and personal injury claims may involve one or more federal laws. Qualified personal injury attorneys should be familiar with the nuances of these laws and could help you effectively pursue damages in your case.
United States federal law recognizes maritime professionals as unique and essential contributors to the national flow of commerce. As such, there are special laws at the federal level intended to protect maritime workers by giving them and their families access to compensation in the case of workplace injuries or fatalities.
Some examples of common maritime injuries that may give rise to a claim include:
The Jones Act extends coverage to “seamen,” defined as sea-based employees who spend more than 30 percent of their time working on a ship in navigable waters. A Jones Act claimant must show that management was negligent in maintaining the vessel and that this failure to provide safe working conditions caused them to suffer injuries. A ship that is understaffed, has malfunctioning equipment, operates under unsafe orders, and/or provides inadequate staff training could be subject to a Jones Act claim.
In the event that a maritime worker loses their life in waters more than three nautical miles from the United States coast, certain relatives of the deceased may seek monetary compensation for their loss through the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). The claimant must prove that the employer, shipowner, or at-fault party was responsible for the death due to negligence or the vessel’s unseaworthiness.
According to the United States Code 46 §30302, the damages available to a prospective DOHSA claimant are limited to pecuniary—or measurable out-of-pocket—expenditures. Unlike a wrongful death claim, this cause of action forbids the collection of damages like pain and suffering and loss of consortium and society. An Opelousas maritime injury attorney could analyze a prospective claim to ascertain which law or combination of laws would result in the highest compensation award.
A third federal law covers maritime workers who work on land. Unlike the Jones Act, the LHWCA covers shipbuilders and repairers, shipbreakers, harbor or dock construction workers, and longshore operators whether at sea or on land. In other words, this Act applies to injuries may occur during the loading, unloading, building, or repairing of a vessel.
The LHWCA Act provides for a claims process through a Department of Labor oversight body responsible for workers’ compensation claims. After a claimant—or their Opelousas maritime accident lawyer—submits the proper documentation and claim form, the body reviews the request. If the body rejects a claimant’s application, an administrative law judge can hear the dispute.
After a maritime workplace injury, you may be uncertain about the future and facing physical trauma, emotional pain, and serious financial burdens. A dedicated attorney could help ensure that you or your family have the opportunity to seek compensation. Contact an Opelousas maritime injury lawyer today to learn more about your options.