When Should A Seaman With An Offshore Injury Seek Legal Help?

by Terry Bryant

An offshore injury is every seaman’s nightmare, as what would be completely treatable on land may be life threatening out on the open waters. Dedicated medical attention is typically hours away, with only basic first aid available on a vessel. Because seamen are at such a high risk away from medical facilities, and because they do not have workers’ compensation to back them up, federal laws place tight safety regulations on vessel owners and operators. If an employer or vessel owner violates these regulations, a seaman who qualifies under the Jones Act will have powerful legal options at their disposal.

Specifically, a qualified seaman who suffers an offshore injury can sue their employer for negligence, even if this negligence is only a minor factor in the accident. Normally, negligence claims have to show that the defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of an accident. By reducing the burden of proof, the Jones Act places additional liability on employers and vessel owners. Even something as simple as a blind spot can be the focus of a claim if a seaman is hurt while walking around it.

The largest area of doubt is often whether or not the victim qualifies under the Jones Act. To do so, a seaman must spend a certain amount of their time at sea, and a maritime attorney can help a victim demonstrate this clearly so that they may take advantage of the Jones Act’s significant advantages.