WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SEEK OUT AN OFFSHORE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHEN A SEAMAN HAS BEEN INJURED?
Fact is, it is difficult for regulators to keep track of maritime commerce, and this is a problem for workers. When an injury occurs, workers who qualify as seamen have a right to compensation, but vessel owners and employers often find ways to get around this. For example, workers have a right to room and board costs while hurt. However, vessel owners often reference outdated expense sheets to calculate this compensation, which may come out to as little as $20 a day. In other cases, a vessel owner may attempt to avoid reimbursement to the worker altogether by claiming that the worker was responsible for their injury.
HOW CAN AN OFFSHORE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP?
No matter what tactic the vessel owner or employer uses, they may attempt to undermine a worker’s rights by pressuring them illegally. A lawyer experienced in the field will be able to counter these tactics and provide evidence that the worker was shortchanged by their employer.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, specifies the rights a qualified seaman has in the event of an injury. However, the Jones Act does not define what constitutes a qualified seaman, and a hurt worker should know that their employer may use this grey area against them.
There are three elements of determining whether or not a worker is qualified. First, the worker must be assigned to a vessel that is considered active, either as part of a fleet or on its own. In other words, the ship must be regularly operating on a navigable stretch of water and not moored permanently. Second, the worker must contribute to the vessel’s purpose and function, or must provide maintenance while the vessel is in operation or during anchorage. Third, the worker must spend much of their time on the assigned vessel, and not just working on or around it occasionally.
HOW WILL AN OFFSHORE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY MANAGE AN INJURY CASE?
If a worker is considered a qualified seaman, they will be a step ahead. Qualified seamen have the right to pursue a claim of negligence against an employer or vessel owner, depending on the nature of the injury. Seamen also have a right to compensation through maintenance and cure, which can provide additional help in the event of an accident.
When filing a negligence claim, the lawyer will assess the condition of the vessel and the events surrounding the injury. Negligence claims against maritime employers and vessel owners have a low bar to clear when proving negligence, so if there is any unsafe condition present, the worker will be entitled to a settlement. This includes things as simple as a slippery work surface or poor vessel maintenance.
WHAT ABOUT WORKERS WHO SPEND THEIR TIME ON SHORE?
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) fills in the gap for workers who do not qualify under the Jones Act. The LHWCA provides injury compensation and wrongful death benefits to longshoremen and their surviving family members.