Working on the high seas is unlike any employment that occurs on land. Employees are in remote locations even just off the Louisiana shore and often have specific challenges seeking medical treatment when accidents or injuries occur. While this has commonly been applied to merchant marines and platform drilling operations, it has become much more common in other industries such as recreational cruise lines that need extensive working crews to provide services for patrons and guests. Not only is passenger safety a central concern, but protecting employees is just a vital.
The problem for employees is that workers’ compensation programs for land-based employment do not necessarily apply when in navigable waters, which is a requirement for the Jones Act to apply in workers’ comp cases. These cases are also evaluated under maritime law. The difference is that land-based workers’ compensation insurance benefits do not allow for general damages covering long-term impact of the injuries regardless of severity.
The concept that the only workers covered by the Jones Act are those working in the international shipping industry is a false concept. The federal legislation was established in 1920 to allow for worker’s protection while working on the high seas, or “navigable waters” as the law literally states. In addition to shipping barge deckhands, the current understanding of the law means that other workers who are covered under the Jones Act include:
Experienced Louisiana maritime law attorneys understand this general damage potential, and they may prepare cases using this claim allowance. Injured workers typically only have one opportunity for financial justice when injured, and attorneys may strive to make that one opportunity count for maximum benefit.