New Orleans Maritime Attorney
Knowledgeable Advocacy in Orleans Parish
Thousands of vessels come and go from Louisiana’s many ports and harbors each year. When a seaman is injured while conducting work on or near a navigable body of water, their rights and legal options will likely be determined by maritime law.
Our New Orleans maritime lawyer has 35 years of experience and is extensively familiar with how to navigate cases within admiralty jurisdiction. At Hammond Law Firm, we regularly help seamen enforce their rights under the Jones Act and collect maintenance and cure benefits they are owed. Our team also assists with claims involving offshore platform accidents and injuries. We understand the intricacies of maritime law and will leverage our knowledge and resources to fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Understanding the Jones Act
Unlike many other workers, seamen are not entitled to workers’ compensation when they are injured on the job. Instead, injured seamen are permitted to sue their employers for negligence under the Jones Act.
The Jones Act requires maritime employers to maintain reasonably safe working conditions. To recover damages as an injured seaman, you must prove your employer failed to live up to these obligations and that their negligence caused your injuries.
You may have a maritime injury claim under the Jones Act if your employer failed to:
- Maintain vessel equipment
- Provide sufficient and safe equipment to workers
- Adequately train workers
- Address unsafe work methods
- Regularly clean oil, grease, or slick surfaces
- Take reasonable steps to prevent a workplace assault
Consider a scenario where a maritime employer fails to thoroughly inspect their vessel and consequently does not notice that a hatch’s hinges are deteriorating. After setting sail, a seaman passes through the hatch, which snaps off due to disrepair. The hatch falls to the ground and crushes the seaman’s foot in the process. Because a reasonable inspection and proper maintenance likely would have prevented this outcome, the seaman likely has a maritime injury claim under the Jones Act.
Unlike a traditional personal injury claim, an injured seaman is not required to demonstrate that their employer’s negligence was the primary cause of their injuries. They need only prove that their employer’s negligence contributed to the cause of their injuries. This substantially lower burden of proof often makes it much easier to hold employers accountable for unsafe conduct.
If you are a seaman who has been injured while at work, you must initiate legal action within three years of the date the incident took place. Jones Act lawsuits can be filed in state or federal courts.
Successful legal action under the Jones Act can entitle you to compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, reductions in earning capacity, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and more. Our New Orleans maritime attorney knows how to approach these cases and will seek the maximum level of compensation available to you.
Maintenance and Cure Benefits
The Jones Act also requires employers to provide “maintenance and cure” benefits to seamen while they recover from work-related injuries. Unfortunately, many maritime employers attempt to shortchange their injured employees or refuse to pay them anything at all.
“Maintenance” refers to room and board. Because a vessel generally provides food and lodging to working seamen as part of their compensation, employers are legally required to cover these expenses when a seaman is recovering from a work-related injury. Therefore, maintenance benefits cover housing costs (rent or mortgage), essential utilities, food, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes. Employers generally do not have to reimburse an injured seaman for car payments, automobile insurance, gas, Internet bills, telephone bills, or cable bills.
“Cure” benefits cover most medical expenses. This includes the cost of transportation to and from any necessary medical treatments.
An injured seaman is entitled to maintenance and cure benefits until they reach what their doctor believes to be their point of “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). In other words, an injured seaman must continue to receive benefits until it is determined they are not likely to get any better. This does not necessarily mean an injured seaman must make a full recovery.
Some maritime employers will do everything possible to avoid paying maintenance and cure. The reality is that disbursement of these benefits is not optional and is required by law. If your employer is failing to honor your rights and provide you with the compensation you need to recover, our team can help.
Offshore Platform Accidents and Injuries
The Louisiana coast hosts dozens of offshore rigs and platforms. These facilities are known to be extremely dangerous and represent a certain high level of occupational risk by default. Fires, explosions, mechanical issues, and failure to appropriately handle heavy equipment can all result in serious injuries and even death.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act specifically covers oil rig and platform workers. This law potentially entitles workers to compensation if they experience work-related injuries. Dependents of oil rig and platform workers may also be able to recover compensation if their loved one is killed in a workplace accident.
At Hammond Law Firm, we do not give up when fighting for your rights. When you are injured in a maritime accident, you deserve to recover the full amount of what you are owed. In many cases, you will need this compensation to provide for your family and cover exorbitant medical bills. Our New Orleans maritime lawyer recognizes what is at stake. We are prepared to take on complex cases and will take every step necessary to advance your claim and deliver a favorable resolution.