Hire an Experienced Georgia Jones Act Lawyer for Your Maritime Injury Claim
While most employees are entitled to “no-fault” benefits under state workers’ compensation laws, maritime workers are not protected by these statutes. Instead, they must seek similar benefits under federal laws such as the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. These laws are complicated, and with your employer and its insurance company fighting against you, you need an experienced Georgia Jones Act attorney on your side.
At the Willis Law Firm, we are dedicated to representing maritime workers who have been injured on the job. We are intimately familiar with the laws that protect you, and we know how to win cases involving river, barge, offshore drilling rigs, jack-up rigs, oil drilling platforms and other maritime accidents. Don’t let your employer stand in the way of protecting your legal rights. Get the help you need from the Willis Law Firm today.
Can I File a Claim Under the Jones Act if I Live in Georgia?
In 1970, Congress enacted the Jones Act to protect inland and offshore workers who do not qualify for state workers’ compensation benefits. The Jones Act provides “maintenance and cure” benefits to injured seamen regardless of who is to blame for their injuries, and it allows injured seamen to seek additional compensation for “Jones Act negligence” and “unseaworthiness.”
If you live in Georgia and work inland on one of the state’s many rivers, at the Port of Brunswick or Port of Savannah on the Atlantic Coast, or out in the open water, there is a very good chance that the Jones Act protects you. Here is an overview of what you need to know:
The Jones Act Applies to All “Seamen” in Georgia
To be eligible for compensation under the Jones Act, you must qualify as a “seaman.” You qualify as a seaman if:
- You work onboard a vessel “in navigation,”
- You spend a significant amount of your work time onboard the vessel, and
- Your work contributes to the vessel’s mission.
If you work as a fisherman, onboard a shrimp boat or tugboat, or onboard any other type of boat or ship, you probably qualify as a seaman. If you are unsure whether you qualify because you only spend part of your work time onboard a vessel or because you don’t know whether your vessel is considered “in navigation,” you should speak with a Jones Act lawyer about your legal rights.
There Are Three types of Jones Act Compensation
If you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, there are three different types of claims you may be able to file. Under the Jones Act, injured seamen can seek compensation for:
- Maintenance and Cure – Maintenance and cure are “no-fault” benefits that are available to all injured seamen. These benefits cover your injury-related medical expenses and provide you with a small daily stipend.
- Jones Act Negligence – If your employer was negligent in causing your injury (i.e., it failed to provide adequate safety equipment or properly maintain your vessel), then you may be able to file a claim for Jones Act negligence. Filing this type of claim allows you to seek full compensation for your injury-related losses.
- Unseaworthiness – If you were injured because your vessel was “unseaworthy,” this can provide additional grounds for seeking compensation under the Jones Act.
Each of these types of claims covers all types of job-related injuries. Whether you cut your arm or hit your head, you can file for Jones Act compensation if you were injured on the job.
What if I Live in Georgia and I Don’t Qualify as a Seaman?
If you don’t qualify as a seaman, then you may need to file another type of claim. For example, many maritime workers are entitled to compensation under the Longshoreman & Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). To find out what type of benefits you can recover, schedule a free consultation today.
Fighting for Your Maritime Injury Compensation
If you are a seaman who has been injured in a maritime accident, you may be wondering what you should expect to happen next. This can be a very difficult and confusing time for you and your family members. When your employer becomes aware of your injury and potential Jones Act claim, your employer is likely to do the following:
Try to Get You to Sign a Sworn Statement or Come in for an Interview.
Many times the employer, a supervisor or an accident investigator will try and get you and others to sign sworn statements or accident reports that are crafted and written to protect them. In doing so, you may be in effect damaging any possible claim and severely limiting the negligent facts against your employer. It is very important to talk to a Georgia Jones Act lawyer first to help educate you on the motives of some employers in accident cases.
Try to Get You To See the Company Doctor.
In most situations when an accident occurs, your employer is going to try to get you to see a doctor chosen by the company. It is very important to understand that under the Jones Act you have the legal right to select your own physician for your medical care. If you decide to be treated by the company’s doctor, the doctor is likely to perform only the most basic medical exam and will not order critical diagnostic tests such as MRIs or CT scans. Often your employer’s goal in having you see the company doctor is to try to convince you that you are not really injured or to minimize the injury in hopes that you do not need to hire a lawyer or pursue a lawsuit against the company.
Try to Convince You Not to Seek the Help of a Georgia Jones Act Attorney
Even if your injuries are serious, your employer is probably going to try to convince you that you do not need to be represented by an attorney. Companies know that employees are generally unaware of their legal rights. They also know that the legal system is complicated and very difficult for employees to navigate on their own. When you hire an attorney, the playing field becomes level – your attorney will explain your rights and stand up to your employer to get you the full compensation you are legally entitled to. This means your employer could now be on the hook to pay you significant financial damages they otherwise would have never mentioned to you
Try To Convince You That They Will Take Care of You.
Employers are smart – they know that you are scared, confused and looking for someone who can help you figure out what you should do. When you are injured on the job, your employer will probably tell you not to worry because they are going to take care of you. While this may sound good, don’t believe it. Your interests and the interests of your employer are very different. Your employer is looking to protect the company, not you. This means you should have an attorney on your side who can protect your rights and fight to get you the compensation and benefits you need to recover from your accident.
Try to Get You to Accept a Settlement Offer as Compensation for Your Maritime Injury.
Oftentimes when a seaman is injured in the course of his or her employment, the employer or its insurance carrier will try to get the seaman to accept a quick settlement and sign a release. These offers tend to be low-ball offers meaning that they are only a fraction of what your claim is actually worth. It is very important to discuss your accident and injuries with a competent attorney before you accept any offers or sign any documents. If you accept your company’s offer and sign a release, you are forever giving up your right to sue your employer and collect the full damages that you are owed under the law.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Your Georgia Jones Act Lawyer
To find out if you are entitled to compensation for your maritime injury and to get the help you need to secure maximum compensation for your losses, contact the Willis Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation. Contact us online to speak with Georgia Jones Act lawyer David Willis today. David Willis is licensed in New York and Texas, and represents injured maritime workers in Georgia and nationwide.
Georgia’s Maritime Industry
The Port of Savannah is the largest facility of its kind in North America and ranks 23rd in the nation in terms of annual cargo volume. Each year, the port processes more than 30 million short tons of containers and non-containerized cargo, including pharmaceuticals, electronics, passenger vehicles, tractors, and countless other components and commodities.
Georgia is home to several other ports as well, and the state’s rivers serve as gateways for cargo destined for inland ports around the country. As a result, Georgia’s ports are critical to our country’s economy, and its maritime workers are critical to water-based shipping and transportation on its inland waterways and shores.
Unfortunately, many tug and barge operators, shipping companies and other businesses do not treat their maritime workers with the respect they deserve. Many workers suffer serious illnesses and injuries because their employers have sidestepped important health and safety measures, and many struggle to collect the benefits they are rightfully owed because their employers stand in the way. At the Willis Law Firm, we are committed to helping injured seamen and sick maritime workers in Georgia. If you are entitled to compensation, our Georgia Jones Act attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve.
Georgia’s Ports and Waterways
Georgia’s four main ports are managed by the Georgia Ports Authority. These are:
- Port of Bainbridge
- Port of Brunswick
- Port of Columbus
- Port of Savannah
The Port of Savannah and Port of Brunswick are deepwater ports along Georgia’s coast. The Port of Savannah is set slightly inland on the Savannah River, and the Port of Brunswick is located on the Fancy Bluff Creek at the tip of St. Simons Sound.
The Port of Bainbridge and Port of Columbus are inland ports. The Port of Bainbridge is on the Flint River, which runs northeast from Lake Seminole on the Florida border toward Albany. The Port of Columbus is located further inland on the Chattahoochee River at the Alabama border.