Maritime work is some of the most dangerous work in the United States. Because of this, many sea workers are likely to run into an accident at some point in their career.
Unfortunately, getting hurt in an offshore accident can sometimes result in a” one-way ticket” home if a boat owner now considers you damaged goods. Luckily, maritime law exists to protect your rights as an offshore worker.
George Vourvoulias at the Louisiana-based Maritime Injury Law Firm is here to represent injured sea workers of all trades, even those who work in landbound maritime industries. Keep reading to learn more about your rights in the maritime industry.
What is maritime law?
Maritime law is a diverse, storied area of law, but it exists primarily to regulate the industry and protect the rights of brave sea workers who put their lives on the line each day.
Maritime law is a distinct, specific area of legal practice, so if you run into problems on the job as a maritime employee, then you need to rely on a maritime injury lawyer to fight for your rights.
Does maritime law apply on land?
Also known as admiralty law, maritime law applies not only to the ocean and seas, but also to inland bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.
What’s more, maritime law doesn’t apply strictly to work done at sea. It also covers land-based activities that are “maritime in character.”
This means that maritime law can protect crew members who work in harbors, ports and shipyards. It can also protect property damages or even losses through marine insurance.
Common maritime laws you should know
With its long history, maritime law has evolved into an expansive, detailed area of the law.
However, as an offshore worker, there are several laws that you should know about because they protect your workers’ rights, particularly your compensation rights following an injury.
Three of the main workers’ compensation laws for offshore workers include:
- The Jones Act
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
- The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is one of the most pertinent protections for maritime employees in the United States. It applies to a variety of offshore workers, and even some workers that fall into “gray areas” like dredge workers.
What makes the Jones Act such a comprehensive workers’ compensation law is that injured workers do not need to prove employer negligence led to their injuries in order to receive maintenance and cure benefits.
Maintenance and cure are two types of benefits outlined in the Jones Act. They can both be collected by an injured seaman, but they cover two categories of compensation. The difference between the two are:
- Maintenance applies to any costs of living that an offshore worker might accrue while injured. This includes rent and mortgage, lost wages, food, and much more.
- Cure applies to medical expenses. However, not only do cure benefits include medical bells, but also the cost of transportation to and from appointments.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA)
If you don’t work on land, but your job is still “maritime in nature,” then the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is made for you.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines the LHWCA as follows:
A federal law that provides for the payment of compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees disabled from on-the-job injuries that occur on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas customarily used in the loading, unloading, repairing, or building of a vessel.
Under the LHWCA, injured maritime workers can collect compensation from their employer for a variety of injuries, or even diseases and illnesses that originate from maritime work.
Additionally, the LHWCA can even require employers to make payments to the family and dependents of workers who passed away on the job.
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The LHWCA isn’t the only act that can require employers make payments to the family or dependents of workers who passed away on the job.
The Death on the High Seas Act was passed in 1920 to remedy deaths that occur on the high seas. Before the act was put in place, families had no federal protection that allowed them to take action for the wrongful death of their loved ones.
Specifically, the DOHSA allows compensation “when the death of an individual is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas beyond three nautical miles from shore of the United States.”
So, unlike the Jones Act, to collect compensation under DOHSA, the deceased worker’s family must prove employer negligence led to the worker’s death.
Contact a Gulf Shores maritime attorney at the Maritime Injury Law Firm today
Every day, maritime workers bravely report to some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. When you are willing to take these risks for one of America’s backbone industries, then you should be treated with the respect and dignity you deserve after an accident.
If you’ve been injured in a maritime injury, then you need to contact George Vourvoulias at the Maritime Injury Law Firm. George has over 20 years of experience protecting workers throughout Louisiana, and he represents clients across the nation. Contact George today to fight for your rights.