Nobody said having a maritime job was easy. Mother Nature is a fickle master. Also, more often than not, workers are exposed to dangerous conditions and substances that may lead to illnesses, injuries and even serious fatalities.
Knowing Offshore Workers’ Rights
In such situations, it is important that you are aware of what your legal rights are, especially considering that most potential claims are time bound. You need to act as soon as possible in order to protect your potential claim in case you have had an accident.
Also, unlike the regular compensation to workers benefits, jobs that involve working on a vessel at sea, rivers or offshore oil rig is covered under federal admiralty laws like the ‘Jones Act’, etc.
Protections and claims of most types are covered under this act. That being said, the ‘Jones Act’ and maritime law is very complex making torts unique. So if you are injured at a maritime job, it is highly advisable that you hire a lawyer that specializes in maritime law and workers compensation to fight your case for you.
There have been cases where the offshore company and their insurers pressurize workers to steer away from legal assistance. In such instances, it has also been seen that employees do not obtain all the remedies due to him legally.
Thus, as an offshore worker, being well aware of the types of laws that protect you is essential. Only if you are well prepared can you deal with a situation, if any, from a legal perspective.
Laws such as Jones Act, Longshore and Harbour Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), General Maritime Laws are specific laws having a specific purpose. The Jones Act covers claims on negligence for seamen (jobs that require you to carry out work on a vessel that is defined as cruise and cargo ships, supply vessels, crew boats that are ocean going ships), while the Longshore and Harbour Workers Compensation Act covers compensation claims for non-seamen maritime workers — boats that are brown water vessels such as tugboats, barges and inland work boats and lastly oil and gas vessels such as offshore platforms, drilling rigs and jack-up rigs.
The biggest benefit of being covered under the Jones Act is that by law the employer is required to pay for the medical expenses until you attain maximum medical improvement. There are also ‘maintenance payments’ that you are entitled to receive if you are unable to work while recovering from injuries.
Several types of damages can be claimed from employers under negligence such as mental anguish for the pain and suffering, the loss earning capacity and lost wages, disfigurement and disability and also medical and assisted living expenses.
Often company lawyers and insurance adjusters may not all have your interests protected while they work on your case. When a claim is made, these insurers would want to pay off the least possible amount and if you have to fight your case alone, there is a strong chance that you will end up being paid less than what you deserve.
Keeping this in mind it is important to have legal council that is aware of maritime laws and can protect your interest effectively.