Jones Act Seaman

Louisiana Offshore Accident Injury Lawyer

IMG_7865In 1921 Congress put into law the Jones Act, which affords special rights to those injured workers exposed to the perils of the sea. When first enacted, those workers, classified as Jones Act seamen, were traditional vessel crewmembers such as captains, mates, deckhands, and the like. As oil and gas exploration ventured offshore in the mid-20th century, many special purpose vessels have been constructed such as jackup rigs, semi-submersible rigs, inland barges, lift boats, dredge barges, pipeline lay barges, derrick barges, spud barges, crane barges, and many others. The development of those special purpose vessels has extended Jones Act seaman status to drill crew members such as tool pushers, drillers, derrickmen, floorhands, lift boat crews, dredge, derrick and pipeline lay barge crews and many other workers doing work on those vessels.

A Jones Act seaman can recover damages from his employer for the employer’s negligence or the negligence of a fellow employee. He can also recover damages from the vessel owner (usually his employer) if injured as a result of the unseaworthiness of the vessel. These are remedies not available under workers’ compensation laws. Although many times complicated to prove, unseaworthiness is usually a defect or other broken part of the vessel such as a broken stairway, broken gangway, leaking pump, broken tong, or other damaged machinery or equipment.

Jones Act seamen are also entitled to maintenance and cure. Maintenance generally substitutes for a portion of the worker’s weekly wage. Cure is payment for medical treatment for the injuries. Payment of maintenance and cure continue until the injured seaman has reached maximum medical cure, even though he is left with a disability that prevents him from working. Maintenance and cure is similar to workers’ compensation benefits but very different in how they are calculated and how long they are paid.

It is critically important that an injured offshore worker, whether he is a Jones Act seaman, a maritime employee or some other classification, be represented by an experience attorney who not only knows the Jones Act and general maritime laws, but is also uniquely familiar with the offshore industry and the specific job of the injured worker. This often means the difference between winning and losing a case. Our firm has represented many workers injured offshore and have succeeded in having the courts recognize the injured worker in a classification that maximizes the recovery for him and his family.

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