jones act & maritime law
The Port of Houston is one of the largest and busiest commercial ports in the world. Nearby is Galveston, which is home to many popular cruise ship channel. When crew members become injured on these vessels, they may only have access to basic first aid. As a result, by the time these victims obtain proper medical treatment, their injuries may have progressed into something more serious. For this reason, commercial fishing has consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous occupations in America.
As an employee in one of the nation’s most dangerous industries, you deserve protection from avoidable harm. In the event of an injury, you need proper compensation to help you recover and move on with your life. In the event of a work accident, employees are typically eligible for compensation under the state Workers’ Compensation program. Although Texas’ legal jurisdiction ends at the shoreline, injured offshore workers are eligible for no-fault compensation under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that allows offshore employees to recover damages from employers for on-the-job injuries. What this means is that if an employer has been negligent by exposing employees to unsafe work conditions, they may be entitled to compensation.
Have you been injured in an offshore oil rig explosion, offshore oil rig accident, or ship accident? In that case, you need a lawyer that understands the very complex and specific rules of maritime law. It would also help if you had a law firm that is committed to fighting the big companies that run the oil and gas industry in the Gulf. Our experienced Jones Act attorneys have built a reputation for successfully navigating complex offshore injury claims. Founding partner John Eddie Williams’ father and grandfather both were union longshoremen. Thus, we are very familiar with the dangerous working conditions that offshore workers face. Our lifelong dedication to protecting the rights of offshore workers has consistently earned us top-tier recognition as one of the best Jones Act law firms in the country.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR JONES ACT PROTECTION?
According to the Jones Act, “sailors” are all workers who meet the following criteria:
- The injured employee must spend at least 30 percent of their time aboard the vessel. They also must contribute meaningfully to the voyage’s operation in any capacity.
- The injured employee must be under a single professional relationship with the vessel while they were working aboard. This means the employee cannot be a freelancer or independent contractor.
- The vessel must be in navigation at the time of the injury, meaning it cannot be in the dock and in use of land-based utilities. Navigable waters include both oceans and inland waterways. So, If the ship was under construction, even if it was in the water, it was not navigable at the time. However, suppose the vessel was being repaired. In that case, even though it is not seaworthy at the time of the injury, the Jones Act still applies.
Fortunately, normal worker’s compensation is still available for those who do not meet these criteria.
Jones Act protection covers workers in various industries, not just fishing or oil and gas. Stewards, cooks, barbers, medical personnel, bartenders, housekeeping staff, electronics operators, and mechanics are all vital personnel in the vessel’s operation. With this in mind, they are entitled to fair compensation under maritime law if injured while aboard the vessel.
TRAUMATIC INJURIES UNDER THE JONES ACT
Workplace injuries normally occur as either sudden trauma injuries or occupational diseases that develop over time. Jones Act claims do not require proof of malice, fault, or even negligence. Moreover, the accident need not have been exclusively a workplace accident. For example, if a sailor slips and falls on a wet spot at the same time the deck heaves violently, either of these things could have caused the fall. Regardless of the specific cause, the Jones Act still applies in these cases.
Falls are the most common type of Jones Act trauma injuries. These are not just “man overboard” falls. A slip-and-fall could occur almost anywhere onboard. This is primarily so if the victim is not used to dealing with things like pitching decks and narrow corridors.
Respiratory problems are among the most common occupational diseases. Breathing mostly filtered air for days or weeks on end is very hard on the lungs. This becomes more of an issue if the victim has a preexisting condition. Or there may be an issue with the filtration system resulting in respiratory issues.
Frequently, occupational disease symptoms are not apparent until long after the victims’ seafaring days are over. However, if the occupational disease originated on the vessel, even if subsequent events contributed to the disease, the Jones Act still applies.
Hearing loss is a good example. Working too close to a noisy engine room without proper ear protection exposes the victim to hearing loss. Or suppose other on-work-related noises contribute to the hearing problems. In that case, the victim is still eligible for Jones Act compensation.
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OUR JONES ACT ATTORNEYS CAN HELP YOU
When the unexpected happens, the challenges that follow can be overwhelming. A work injury can turn an offshore employee’s life upside down in an instant. They are often left to deal with traumatic injuries, mounting medical bills, and an inability to work and support their family. Offshore injury victims deserve compensation for their pain and suffering.
Such compensation is available under Jones Act for eligible offshore workers. However, getting a fair settlement may be very difficult without help from a trustworthy attorney. Aggressive insurance reps will try to corner you into settling for less than you deserve. In doing, so they are allowing the responsible party to pay as little as possible. By hiring an attorney who is well versed in maritime law, victims have more control over their recovery outcome. They are more likely to secure maximum compensation.
Our attorneys offer unmatched expertise, resources, and dedication. We ensure you will receive just compensation for your injuries. For a 100% FREE initial consultation with an experienced Jones Act lawyer, contact Williams Hart today. We are ready to hear your story.
WHEN THE STAKES ARE HIGH, DON’T TRUST ANYONE ELSE
Have you been injured by an offshore accident? Or a member of your family killed as a result of an offshore accident? You should know that the attorneys of Williams Hart law firm stand ready to help you. When dealing with large oil and gas corporations or huge insurance companies, you need a law firm with the right resources and a history of trial victories. We aren’t afraid of taking on big companies, and we have the experience to back it up.