Maritime Work Is Dangerous, But That Doesn't Excuse Accidents
Ships and offshore rigs are inherently dangerous places to work. Adding to this danger is the fact that these massive pieces of modern engineering are floating on unpredictable seas. Ship owners have a heightened responsibility to maintain proper safety standards aboard their vessels to keep workers as safe as reasonably possible. When these employers fail to create a safe work environment, they must be held accountable for the sake of continued safety for all offshore workers.
Incidents that often occur due to employer negligence include:
The Importance of Safety & Maintenance at Sea
Those in leadership positions onboard a commercial vessel, namely the ship owners, are required to uphold a certain set of safety standards while conducting business. This is to ensure both the production of the ship as well as the safety of its employees.
Three crucial aspects of the ship need to be maintained under maritime law:
- Manning: This refers to the proper functioning of the staff onboard. The owners of the ship may be liable for injury if an accident occurs because of poor leadership, running a vessel that is understaffed, or failing to train the seamen onboard properly.
- Equipping: This refers to the equipment used onboard the vessel to conduct its business. If the equipment is not properly maintained or is not provided, and this leads to an inuring accident, the ship owners may be responsible for damages.
- Supplying: The crew is entitled to an adequate supply of provisions onboard. Supplies need to be planned to match the length or difficulty of the voyage. Incidents regarding a lack of provisions might be subject to the liability of the ship owners.
All of these aspects contribute to the evaluation of the ship as “seaworthy.” When the seaworthiness of the vessel is called into question as a cause for an accident, the employees aboard the ship who were injured are generally entitled to seek retribution.
Providing for Injured Workers Under General Maritime Law
The courts have unilaterally found that ship owners must provide for their workers if they become injured or sick during the voyage. This provision is known as “maintenance and cure” and provides compensation for the seaman until he or she fully recovers. If a seaman becomes injured or ill and needs to be taken back ashore for medical attention, he or she may be eligible to receive the wages expected to earn during the full length of the voyage. However, these are terms usually laid out in the finer points of an employment contract.
The Specifics of Maintenance & Cure
Although this practice is designed to take care of injured workers through their injury or illness, there are limitations to medical improvement, and ship owners will not be able to provide for treatment forever. To avoid the highest benefit payout, ship owners will instead resort to a maintenance rate between $15 and $35 a day, or pick and choose the medical treatments they will cover. The courts, however, will generally favor a commercial shipping crewman if the integrity of the shipowners’ payout can be properly called into question in a court of law.
The Jones Act & Catastrophic Injuries
In 1920, the Jones Act was passed to help injured offshore workers recover compensation for accidents that their employers or other parties could have prevented. While maintenance and cure only covers part of an injury's cost, the Jones Act makes it possible for injured parties to receive maximum compensation. Specifically, this law is most useful when a worker sustains life-altering injuries—also known as catastrophic injuries.
Catastrophic maritime injuries include:
These injuries are notable because they have lasting implications on the people who sustain them. The Jones Act can help injured workers recover lost wages, medical care, and other expenses. It can also help them stabilize their finances with compensation for the lost ability to work, the cost of future medical care, and pain and suffering caused by their accident.
The best way to learn more about the Jones Act is to call our Louisiana maritime attorneys at (888) 493-1629.
We’ve Represented Victims of History’s Most Tragic Maritime Disasters
The legal team at Arnold & Itkin has extensive experience in maritime law and any other category that may fall under personal injury. As the leaders in maritime law, we have been involved with countless cases involving offshore injuries and accidents. For example, after the tragic Deepwater Horizon accident, more than a third of the crew turned to our team of Louisiana maritime injury and death lawyers for assistance. We stood up for them and helped fight for the compensation that they needed to take care of themselves and their families.
In addition to the Deepwater Horizon, we were there to assist the widows left behind after the El Faro sank. We’ve also reached a record-setting settlement of $29 million for a family who lost someone they loved during a fatal maritime accident. It’s believed to be the largest known settlement for a wrongful death that occurred offshore. The list goes on, and we believe that it is indicative of our law firm’s passion for protecting offshore and maritime workers. To see for yourself the difference that we have made, we encourage you to visit our victories page today!
Free Consultation with Experienced Louisiana Maritime Lawyers
One of the oldest law codes in the United States comes from centuries-old maritime laws. Many of these laws were designed around the dangers of the sea. Though we’ve come a long way, offshore jobs remain one of the most dangerous occupations. From shipping vessels to energy production on oil rigs, American industry relies on offshore workers facing serious hazards every day.
Maritime accidents can leave you with a lot of questions, anxiety, and fear about your future. It can be difficult to know where you’re going to get the help that you need and if you will be able to take care of yourself and your loved ones. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we want you know that we are here to help you through this.
Over the years, we have helped countless individuals who were in the same spot that you are now. We have stood by their side, refusing to back down when companies failed to protect them and then failed to assist in the recovery process. If you would like to get answers and take the first steps toward recovery, contact us immediately. We offer completely free, confidential consultations, and we’re ready to help you.
Call our offices today at (888) 493-1629 to schedule a free consultation with a Baton Rouge maritime lawyer.