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Seamen in the maritime industry work hard for a living. Our team at the Maritime Injury Law Firm knows the pride that maritime workers take in their profession – as well as the dangers that come with this type of work.

For this reason, maritime law guarantees seamen the right to sue their employers for compensation if they’re injured on the job. The Jones Act is the most important law in this area.

But what about seamen who are overworked at their job? Are they still covered? From experienced Louisiana maritime Injury lawyer George Vourvoulias, here’s what you need to know.

What is the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is one of many workers’ compensation laws in the United States. It was enacted in 1920 specifically to serve the best interests of injured seamen or offshore workers in the maritime industry.

Maintenance and cure are two types of benefits ensured to injured seamen under the Jones Act. They are both “no-fault benefits,” which means that any injured seaman is entitled to benefits for injuries they incur while working offshore as a maritime worker. An injured seaman doesn’t have to prove their employer’s fault for the injury.

The no-fault nature of Jones Act benefits is also unique. It makes maintenance and cure some of the most comprehensive workers’ compensation benefits in the nation.

Unfortunately, employers also understand this, and maritime employers are known to fight in any way they can to avoid paying maintenance and cure benefits to injured employees who rightfully deserve them.

That’s why you need a skilled Jones Act lawyer like George Vourvoulias on your side.

Does the Jones Act cover overexertion in Louisiana?

Overexertion is a very real side effect of working in the maritime industry. The work can be rewarding, but it can also be grueling and exhausting. Many offshore workers experience overexertion symptoms.

However, employers may use loopholes to avoid paying maintenance and cure benefits to exhausted workers.

Skye vs. Maersk Line (2014)

In 2014, the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals heard from William Skye and his commercial vessel employer Maersk Line.

Skye filed a suit against Maersk Line, claiming he had a thickened heart wall, and that it was due to excessive work required by Maersk Line.

In the original trial, the court ruled Maersk Line owed Skye over half a million dollars. However, Maersk Line appealed. They claimed the Jones Act didn’t cover overexertion or related ailments for seamen.

The Court of Appeals ruled “work-related stress,” or overexertion, didn’t equate to injury as a result of physical peril, as laid out in the Jones Act. Therefore, Skye did not qualify for benefits under the Jones Act.

Negligence under the Jones Act

While the Eleventh Circuit ruled Skye didn’t qualify for benefits under the Jones Act, there could be potential for overworked seamen to receive benefits for their injuries. After all, stress-related injuries are still injuries.

The Jones Act does specifically indicate that seamen are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits for injuries caused by an employer’s negligence

Most think of negligence in terms of faulty equipment, outdated procedures, or other flagrant examples. However, negligence could also include not providing adequate training to ensure seamen’s safety.

If so, it may be possible to argue that not providing breaks, or requiring seamen to work past the point of exhaustion, could also qualify as employer negligence.

Employer negligence could be one way to win benefits for overworked offshore workers.

Contact The Maritime Injury Law Firm in New Orleans, Louisiana

No matter how you sustained your injuries as an offshore worker, you need an experienced and determined Jones Act attorney on your side. Sea lines and maritime companies will do their best to avoid paying maintenance and cure benefits to injured employees, but a lawyer like George Vourvoulias will stand up for you, and make sure you win the compensation you deserve.

It all starts when you contact us for a free and confidential consultation. Contact us today to learn more about your rights and start the journey to compensation.

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