I was Injured on a Barge: Do I File Under Workers’ Compensation or the Jones Act?

Barge Injuries Jun 19, 2017

If you were injured in a barge accident, there is a good chance that you will need to seek financial compensation for your injuries. Between your medical bills and lost income, your injuries could take a significant toll on your finances, and you will need to make sure that you have your expenses covered as much as possible. But, how do you claim compensation for your maritime or offshore injury? Are you eligible for workers’ compensation? Or, do you need to file a claim under the Jones Act? State Workers’ Compensation Laws Do Not Apply to Offshore Workers Workers’ compensation laws are designed to make it easier for workers to collect compensation for job-related injuries. They do so by making limited, “no-fault” benefits available to injured workers regardless of the cause of their injuries. While this no-fault system makes it easier for many workers to receive at least some compensation from their employers, it prevents employees who have been harmed by their employers’ negligence from securing full financial compensation for their losses (including full wage replacement and compensation for pain and suffering). However, since workers’ compensation laws exist at the state level, they do not apply to most accidents that occur on vessels or most offshore. As a result, for maritime and offshore workers, securing compensation for job-related injuries commonly involves filing a claim under the Jones Act. Understanding Your Rights Under the Jones Act The Jones Act is a federal maritime law that serves as a substitute for workers’ […]


Who is Responsible for My Barge Accident Injuries?

Barge Injuries Jun 16, 2017

Maybe you slipped and fell on a slippery deck. Maybe you were injured by a crane or other piece of equipment or machinery. Maybe you have been diagnosed with leukemia or MDS from a benzene exposure on a barge. Whatever it is that happened, you suffered a serious injury, and now you have a mountain of medical bills and are unable to provide for your family. Barges are dangerous work environments, and seamen working onboard barges frequently suffer serious, life-changing injuries. If you’ve been injured, you may be entitled to compensation, and one of the first steps to securing a financial recovery is to determine who is responsible for your injuries. Determining Liability After a Barge Accident Under the maritime laws of the United States, injured barge workers have three primary sources from which they can seek compensation for their injury-related losses. These are (i) their employer, (ii) the tug or barge owner, and (iii) other third parties. Your Employer: “Maintenance and Cure” and Jones Act Negligence For most barge workers, the first option for securing compensation is to enforce their rights under the Jones Act. The Jones Act provides injured seamen with two types of claims: A claim for no-fault “maintenance and cure” benefits A claim for full compensation based on employer negligence Under the Jones Act, maritime employers are required to pay maintenance and cure benefits regardless of the cause of the accident. If they do not pay, they may even be liable for punitive damages and attorney’s […]


When is a Tugboat Considered “Unseaworthy”?

Tugboat Injuries Jun 14, 2017

When seeking to recover financial compensation for injuries sustained in a tugboat accident, one potential source of recovery is the tugboat’s owner. Tugboat owners have a legal obligation to maintain safe working conditions on their vessels, and when they fail to do so, maritime law states that they can be held accountable for any losses crewmembers and other workers onboard face as a result of their injuries. This is what is known as the doctrine of “unseaworthiness.” Examples of Unseaworthy Conditions on Tugboats In broad terms, any condition onboard a tugboat that increases workers’ risk of injury has the potential to qualify as an “unseaworthy” condition. For example, the following are all common dangers that can justify claims for compensation against tugboat owners: Equipment that is worn out or in need of repair Improperly-designed fixtures or equipment Loose steps or railings Missing rails or safety equipment Unprotected openings Unsafe lines, tools and machinery Trip hazards on deck Oily or icy conditions on deck Improper lighting Walking surfaces that lack anti-skid protection However, these types of issues are not the only issues that can render a tugboat unseaworthy. The following are examples of unseaworthy conditions as well: Excessive work hours – Forcing the tugboat’s captain or crewmembers to work excessively-long hours can be a form of unseaworthiness. Inadequate access to safety equipment – Tugboat owners must supply those onboard with appropriate safety equipment, such as personal floatation devices, fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Missing warning signs – Failure to post […]


When Do I Need a Jones Act Lawyer?

If you were injured working on a vessel or offshore, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal maritime law that provides special protections to maritime workers, many of whom face dangerous job-related risks on a daily basis. However, while the Jones Act’s protections are clear, employers rarely (if ever) voluntarily pay their injured workers the full compensation they deserve. In fact, many employers will dispute their employees’ Jones Act claims, and some even have policies and procedures in place designed to prevent employees from asserting their rights under the Jones Act. On top of these concerns, you may have additional claims for compensation outside of the Jones Act, and if you only pursue a claim against your employer you might not recover the full compensation you deserve. As you can see, securing just compensation after an offshore or maritime accident gets complicated quickly. As a result, the best way to protect your rights (and maximize your financial recovery) is to consult with an experienced Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Common Maritime Injuries for Jones Act Claims The Jones Act does not identify specific types of injuries that are eligible for compensation. Instead, it establishes rights for eligible workers (those who qualify as “seamen”) that apply regardless of the harm they have endured. As a result, the following are all examples of common offshore injuries that may entitle injured workers to file a Jones Act lawsuit: Bone […]


The Laws That Protect Offshore and Maritime Workers

Maritime Law Jun 9, 2017

As someone who works offshore or in the maritime industry, there are laws that protect you when you get injured at work. But, knowing which laws apply – and how to use them to maximize your financial recovery – can be a challenge. The following is a brief overview of the laws that provide for compensation when offshore and maritime workers get hurt or injured on the job: 1. The Jones Act Who It Covers: The Jones Act applies to offshore workers who qualify as “seamen.” This includes workers onboard tankers, freighters, tugboats, barges, fishing boats, supply boats, crew boats, jackup rigs, and other vessels. It also includes crewmembers on floating oil rigs and jack-up drilling rigs. Compensation Available: Under the Jones Act, injured seamen can potentially file two different claims for compensation: (i) a claim for no-fault “maintenance and cure” benefits, and (ii) a claim for full financial compensation based the negligence of the employer or others. 2. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Who It Covers: The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) applies to offshore workers who do not qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act. This includes workers on fixed oil platforms and oil rigs, as well as certain longshoremen, harbor workers, dock men and other maritime employees. Compensation Available: Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, injured workers are entitled to certain benefits regardless of who is to blame for their injuries. These include benefits for disability (lost income), medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses and retraining […]


Injured Working Offshore? Your Right to Maintenance and Cure

Maintenance and Cure Jun 7, 2017

As someone who works on a vessel or offshore, you have likely come across the term, “maintenance and cure.” You might know that this is a form of compensation employers are required to provide to their injured workers. You might also know that maintenance and cure benefits are provided under a federal law known as the Jones Act. But, do you know how much you are entitled to recover? Do you know how to make sure your employer does not take advantage of you? Do you know what to do when your maintenance and cure benefits are not enough to cover the full extent of your financial losses and physical and emotional harm? Did you know you may be entitled to a direct lawsuit against your maritime employer? These are all critical questions, and if you do not know the answers you will almost certainly settle for far less than you deserve. Protecting Your Rights After a Maritime or Offshore Accident 1. Losses Covered Under Maintenance and Cure First, it is important to understand the types of losses that are covered by maintenance and cure. “Maintenance” refers to benefits that help cover your daily costs of living while you are unable to work due to an injury. While your employer is legally required to pay you these benefits if you qualify, most maintenance payments are fairly low – typically around $15 to $40 per day. “Cure” refers to compensation for any medical bills you incur as a result of your […]


Injured on a Tugboat? Find Out Who May Be Responsible

Tugboat Injuries Jun 5, 2017

After any type of accident, identifying the party (or parties) responsible is one of the first steps toward pursuing a claim for financial compensation. With medical bills piling up and the potential for significant lost income, job-related injuries can often put maritime workers’ financial futures on the line. As a result, fighting for just compensation needs to be a top priority, and it is critical to promptly conduct a thorough investigation focused on determining who deserves to be held accountable. 1. Your Employer The first option is your employer. Under the Jones Act, if you were injured onboard a tugboat or barge, in most cases your employer will be obligated to pay you no-fault benefits known as “maintenance and cure.” Since these are no-fault benefits, your employer must pay regardless of the cause of your injury. In addition to maintenance and cure benefits (which in some cases can be less than $25 per day), the Jones Act also entitles you to seek full compensation for your injuries if the accident resulted from your employer’s negligence. The Jones Act applies a standard of “slight” negligence, which means that your employer can be held accountable if it made any mistake that played any role in causing your injuries. 2. The Tugboat’s Owner If your employer does not own the tugboat or barge on which you were injured, you may be able to seek compensation from the tugboat’s owner as well. Claims against vessel owners are not made under the Jones Act, but […]


Compensation for Injuries Caused by Unseaworthy Vessels

Articles May 26, 2017

Under maritime law, ship owners have a legal responsibility to maintain their vessels in seaworthy condition. This requirement is designed to make sure that workers onboard tankers, freighters, tugboats, barges, supply boats, crew boats and other vessels are not put at risk by dangerous conditions that can – and should – be avoided with proper care. Unfortunately, many vessel owners fail to meet their duties. Unseaworthy conditions are far too common, and too often they leave offshore workers suffering from serious, and sometimes life-changing, injuries. If you were injured as the result of an unseaworthy condition, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation, and it is critical that you stand up for your legal rights. Understanding Your “Unseaworthiness” Claim Unseaworthiness claims are unique from most other types of injury compensation claims because they are subject to the rule of “strict liability.” Under strict liability, a vessel owner is liable for injuries resulting from an unseaworthy condition regardless of whether the owner caused the condition, and even regardless of whether the owner knew the condition existed. If you were injured on a vessel and you can establish that an unseaworthy condition is to blame, the law entitles you to financial compensation. What constitutes an “unseaworthy” condition? The list is actually longer than you might think. Examples of unseaworthy conditions include: Dangerous conditions resulting from inadequate vessel maintenance Inadequate, inexperienced or unsupervised crew Lack of adequate safety equipment, including first aid kits and floatation devices Old tools or equipment that are […]


How Much Can I Recover for My Barge Accident Injury?

Articles May 24, 2017

If you were injured while working on a barge or tugboat, you may be entitled to financial compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that specifically applies to maritime workers, and it provides injured workers with two ways to seek compensation for their injury-related losses. How Much is Maintenance and Cure? The first is to file a claim for “maintenance and cure” benefits. Under the Jones Act, all qualifying maritime workers are entitled to limited compensation regardless of the cause of their accident. These benefits, known as “maintenance and cure,” are intended to help cover injured barge workers’ medical and daily living expenses. But, the key word here is, “help.” Maintenance and cure benefits are typically in the range of $20 to $40 per day. So, injured workers will usually need to seek an additional source of compensation. How Much Can I Recover for Jones Act Negligence? The second way to seek compensation under the Jones Act is to file a claim based upon your employer’s negligence. If your employer made a mistake that contributed to your accident, even if it was not the direct cause of your injury, the Jones Act states that your employer must provide full compensation for your injury-related losses. What do we mean by “full” compensation? In claims for Jones Act negligence, injured barge workers can seek compensation for: Outstanding medical bills – You are entitled to have all of your current injury-related medical bills paid by your employer. Rehabilitation […]


What if My Employer Refuses to Pay Me Maintenance and Cure?

Articles May 22, 2017

Under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure are “no-fault” benefits that your employer must pay regardless of whether it was at fault in the accident that caused your injuries. Collecting maintenance and cure benefits is supposed to be easy, but many maritime and offshore employers go to great lengths to try to avoid paying the benefits their employees are rightfully owed. If your employer is refusing to pay maintenance and cure, what should you do? Denied Maintenance and Cure? It’s Time to Speak with a Maritime Attorney Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. In many cases, employers simply bank on the fact that injured employees will not go through the effort to enforce their legal rights. So, they deny payment, and then they wait. If they don’t hear from an attorney, they don’t pay the benefits required by law. If you have been denied maintenance and cure, you need a lawyer on your side. Hiring a lawyer is the only way to get your employer to take your injury seriously, and if you don’t seek legal representation you can expect not to receive the benefits you deserve. What Can a Lawyer Do for You? 1. Force Your Employer to Start Paying Maintenance and Cure When you hire a lawyer, he or she will act as your representative in dealing with your employer and the maritime insurance company Your lawyer will contact your employer, and demand that it begin making maintenance and cure payments immediately. When they know they owe, […]


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