HIRE AN EXPERIENCED MARITIME ATTORNEY
If you have been injured on the job, you are likely expecting workers’ compensation benefits. But if you have been working on a vessel in the Gulf, in a river, or on an offshore oil rig, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation. You may, however, be eligible for similar benefits under federal admiralty law, also known as “maritime law,” or the “Jones Act.” The good news is that Jones Act benefits can be much more comprehensive than the state’s workers’ compensation provides. However, the federal laws governing these benefits are complex and require a skilled attorney.
Call Scott McLemore at 713-LAW-FORU for help with your Jones Act claim.
HOW WILL YOU BE COMPENSATED AFTER A MARITIME INJURY?
First, you must find out which law protects you based on the location you were working. There are many potential state laws and federal laws that may apply, including the Jones Act, general Maritime Law, maintenance and cure, and the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
As a rule, if you work on a “vessel in navigation,” then you are probably covered under the Jones Act. To qualify as a vessel, the guidelines are broad and include:
- Oil and gas related vessels, including offshore platforms, drilling rigs, as well as jack-up rigs, spars, and semi-submersibles
- Oceangoing ships, including supply vessels, crew boats, cruise ships, and cargo ships
- Brown water vessels like tugboats, barges, and inland workboats
QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE JONES ACT
For coverage under the Jones Act, your job must require that you be on the vessel and your work must contribute to its mission. Generally, any work done on the vessel qualifies as contributing to the mission. The positions typically covered by the Jones Act include:
- Ordinary seaman, able-bodied seaman, deckhands, engineers, mates
- Captain and crew
- Barge and tanker workers
- Cooks, galley hands, and other supporting jobs
- Roughnecks, roustabouts, drillers, tool pushers, derrickmen, company men, OIMs (Offshore Installation Managers), mud engineers, and deck engineers
Federal Maritime Law benefits
Federal maritime law and the Jones Act function much differently. For example, the Jones Act requires your employer to cover all medical expenses until you are fully recovered. Also, you can see your doctors, instead of doctors connected to big insurance companies or chosen by your employer. Maritime benefits also reduce financial strain during your recovery because they include “maintenance,” a daily stipend to cover living expenses.
Under maritime law, injured workers can also file a negligence lawsuit, which is not allowed under workers’ compensation benefits. In the United States, employers are protected by workers’ compensation insurance which prevents injured workers from suing them regardless of the extent of the negligent acts committed. The Jones Act protects the injured worker so you can sue for negligence.
The bottom line is that a Jones Act settlement may be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, whereas workers’ compensation coverage would be zero.
GETTING HELP UNDER THE JONES ACT
After an injury, you need the peace of mind of knowing your claim is in the best possible hands. Scott McLemore is AV® rated and has been recognized by “Texas’s Best Lawyers” and “Houston’s Top Lawyers.” Maritime law is complicated, and small errors can result in reductions to your settlement.
Attorney Scott McLemore has the experience and knowledge to navigate the complexities of maritime law. Our office serves the entire Gulf of Mexico and assists seamen and divers around the world. We can coordinate with other counsel across the world to get you the best possible settlement. Contact us today at 713-888-0080 to get started; regardless of where your accident happened, we’ve got you covered.