If you’re a seaman, chances are that you already know how dangerous maritime work can be. Accidents can happen frequently and injuries are all too often. Many of these injuries leave maritime workers with severe health conditions and large medical bills. As an offshore worker, however, you have legal rights under general maritime law and the Jones Act that protects you in the event of injuries sustained while on the job. Since maritime law has its own sets of rules and regulations that are quite different from land-based laws when it comes to accidents and injuries, you’ll need an experienced offshore injury attorney who specializes in and has in-depth knowledge of maritime law and disability benefits.
What is an Offshore Injury Lawyer?
Offshore attorneys specifically focus on cases involving maritime law (sometimes known as admiralty law). These unique set of laws were written solely for the maritime industry and to help protect workers in the event of accidents, illnesses, and injuries. Maritime laws are different from any other type of disability law, including worker’s compensation, in that they are only provided to those who work offshore. These laws are extremely intricate and not all attorneys are equipped with the knowledge about how maritime laws, acts, and regulations work. An offshore attorney helps those who have been injured at work by applying their knowledge of maritime laws in order to assist their clients in receiving the benefits they are entitled to.
Why Do Seamen Need an Offshore Injury Lawyer?
When seamen are injured on the job, in a ship, or an offshore facility, they are legally entitled to receive compensation for their medical costs and living expenses while they recover. This compensation, known as maintenance and cure, is required by the provisions of general maritime law that govern personal injuries on the job. In many instances, however, employers and their insurers attempt to pay only a fraction of maintenance and cure or in some cases, not pay at all.
Employers usually want to deny that they are responsible for any injuries sustained by their workers on vessels and other offshore facilities. Not only does it hurt their profit margin, but it also stains their reputation. In many cases, they will not only dispute the claim, but they will retaliate against employees who seek compensation by making it difficult for claimants to find other maritime work. This retaliatory tactic is known as blacklisting.
Because offshore injuries occur far from where an investigation can be carried out without complications, it’s easy for a company to try to make things look more in its favor than in the injured worker’s. If an offshore accident occurs, the employer will send lawyers and investigators on short notice to make sure the evidence is tilted to fit its version of events and make it difficult for the injured person to make a successful claim. Offshore injury lawyers are experienced in detecting these types of tactics and trained to handle the intricacies that come with maritime cases.
Seamen may also be entitled to compensation for lost wages, additional medical expenses, and pain and suffering under the Jones Act. In addition, for maritime workers who may not qualify as a seaman, such as a harbor or longshoreman, other acts are in place that protect them in the event of an accident or injury. An experienced offshore injury lawyer will be able to explain your options to you and fight to ensure that you get the damages you’re entitled to.
What Types of Accidents and Injuries Does an Offshore Injury Lawyer Cover?
An offshore injury lawyer covers any maritime accident in which a seamen is injured due to the negligence of another party. Common examples include failure of employers to:
- Provide adequate safety training
- Ensure all equipment is in working, functioning order
- Provide proper safety gear and protective clothing
- Provide appropriate rest periods and breaks
- Make sure work areas are clear of dangerous materials and debris
- Provide warning signs in appropriate areas
- Ensure ladders and steps are stable and in functioning order
If you’ve been injured due to the aforementioned examples or for any reason that could have been prevented with appropriate employer behavior, an experienced offshore injury lawyer will work with you on the details of your case and will make you sure you understand your legal rights and options.
What if I Can’t Afford an Offshore Injury Lawyer?
Most offshore injury attorneys understand that if you’re currently out of work due to an injury, you probably don’t have the up-front money for attorney fees. Fortunately, experienced and knowledgeable offshore injury lawyers usually have the financial backing already set in place in order to offer payment options on a contingency-fee basis. A contingency-fee basis simply means that you pay nothing up front. Your attorney doesn’t get paid until you win your case, when a certain percentage is taken out for attorney fees. The fees will decided on between you and your attorney beforehand.
It’s important to note that it’s always to good idea to choose an offshore injury lawyer that offers contingency payment plan. If up-front fees are needed to take on your case, there is a good chance the attorney doesn’t have the financial resources available to successfully represent you.
Compensation for Maritime Injuries
Although maintenance and cure benefits must be provided regardless of how the accident happened, you may also be eligible for emotional trauma, pain and suffering, additional medical expenses, disfigurement, and lost wages. An offshore injury lawyer will review your case and negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you get the best benefits possible.
If you’ve been injured, it’s important to never sign any paperwork until you fully understand your rights and what you may be entitled to. For more information on your rights and compensation, refer to our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.
Additional Resources and Information
For more detailed information on maritime injuries, legal rights and resources, and understanding your rights, we invite you to fill out form to receive a complimentary Maritime Injury information.