Workers in Louisiana shouldn’t have to worry about financial devastation caused by their employment. If a worker gets hurt because something goes wrong on the job, they usually have the option of filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Generally speaking, workers’ compensation helps to pay for the treatment costs of an injured worker or someone diagnosed with a medical condition caused by their employment. They may also potentially receive disability benefits if they require an extended leave of absence from work, have to change professions because of limitations or are no longer able to work at all because of their injury.
Unfortunately, while some of the most dangerous jobs in Louisiana send people out onto the open ocean, like commercial fishing and oil rig work, workers’ compensation coverage generally ends with occupations pursued on the shoreline. What protects workers in maritime jobs from financial devastation in the wake of sustaining injuries or death related to their employment?
Federal law establishes worker protections
For more than a hundred years, a federal statute has granted injured maritime workers the right to take legal action against their employers in specific circumstances. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 includes many rules for businesses that operate at sea. People refer to Section 27 as the Jones Act, and it outlines the right of workers to sue their employers for maritime work injuries. The scenarios that justify such claims include regulatory infractions or gross negligence on the part of a maritime employer. Incidents that occur due to a worker making a mistake or actions of a third party may not qualify someone to pursue a claim under the Jones Act.
What can a Jones Act claim provide?
An injured worker who successfully pursues a Jones Act claim can secure compensation for their lost wages and medical expenses, as well as any other verifiable economic losses by suing their employer. In tragic situations where workers die, their surviving family members may be able to pursue a lawsuit under the Jones Act.
The claims process can be very challenging, as it typically involves filing papers with the courts, which means that trying to manage it without legal representation may prove too challenging for an injured worker or those grieving the loss of a loved one. Consulting with a lawyer can often help people evaluate whether or not they have grounds upon which to file a valid maritime work injury claim.