If you are an individual who has been injured on an offshore platform, jack-up oil rig, ship, barge, tugboat or any other type of vessel, it is important for you to understand your legal rights. The Jones Act and other general maritime laws provide important protections for seamen who are injured in the course of their employment.
Under the Jones Act, seamen include members of the crew of the vessel as well as individuals who are assigned to a fleet of vessels by an employer. For example, individuals who work on tankers, freighters, jack-up rigs, tugs, towboats, supply boats, barges, fishing vessels and semi-submersibles are generally considered to fall into the category of seamen under the Jones Act.
When you are injured in a maritime accident, your injuries are likely to be very painful and possibly even debilitating. As you probably are already well aware, your accident not only impacts your life but it the lives of the people you care most about. While you may be scared and confused it is important to talk with an attorney who knows how to handle maritime injury claims. An experienced lawyer can explain your legal rights and make certain that you receive all the benefits you are entitled to under the law, including lost wages and earnings from your employer.
Unearned Wages – Absolute Right
Under the Jones Act, when a seaman becomes ill or is injured while in the service of the vessel, the seaman has the right to collect unearned wages from his or her employer. The Jones Act provides that your right to collect these wages is absolute, which means your employer must pay unearned wages to you regardless of who is to blame for your illness or injuries. Your right to collect these wages begins from the time of your injury or illness through the end of your voyage or contract.
If you are an injured seaman it is important to work with a law firm that can help you collect the full amount of your unearned wages. Employers may try to avoid making any lost wages payments to you by claiming you are only entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Employers may also dispute the amount of time left on your contract and in other cases you may not even have a written agreement specifying the term of your employment. In these situations it is very important to take quick action and speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Lost Wages and Loss of Future Earning Capacity-Employer Negligence
When a seaman is injured due to the negligence of his or her employer, the seaman will be permitted to file a lawsuit against the employer to recover damages. The types of damages available in these types of cases are similar to those in a traditional personal injury lawsuit and include past lost wages as well as the compensation for loss of future earning capacity.
Unlike your unearned wages and maintenance and cure benefits, in order to recover compensation for lost wages and loss of future earning capacity you must prove you were harmed by the negligent actions of your employer or fellow crewmembers. While the burden of proof in these types of cases is very low, it is important to work with a lawyer who can gather and preserve the evidence needed to properly support your claim.
It is also very important to make sure you are being treated by the right doctors. The work restrictions your physician puts in place after your treatment is complete and will dictate what kind of work you are able to do in the future. Do not be forced or bullied into receiving your care from the company doctor. He or she may release you to full duty work regardless of the severity of your injuries. If this happens, you may lose the right to recover for future loss of earning capacity.
Willis Law Firm can help. Contact us today at 1-800-468-4878. We will make sure that you are receiving all of the lost wages and other benefits you are entitled to collect under the law.