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Workers’ compensation coverage is different for maritime employees

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2023 | Firm News |

Some of the jobs with the best compensation and benefits in Louisiana involve offshore or maritime work. Fishermen, cruise ship employees and oil rig workers can earn highly competitive wages in part because of how dangerous their jobs can be.

Not only must they work in a dangerous environment, but they may need to work incredibly long shifts or spend many days separated from their families. When focused on the ins and outs of the job, it can be easy for workers to somewhat ignore job risks until they lead to an injury that requires medical attention and may force them to take time away from their employment. Ultimately, for better and for worse, unlike most workers in Louisiana, maritime employees cannot simply file a workers’ compensation claim if they get hurt on the job.

The rules are different for offshore and other maritime employees

Workers’ compensation programs exist on a state-by-state basis. While every state in the country does have certain rules protecting workers, the location where someone gets hurt plays a major role in determining what kind of benefits they may receive.

Offshore injuries occur outside of terrestrial jurisdictions and are there for subject to totally different rules than an injury that occurs on land in Louisiana. There is a law that already exists to protect the rights of those hurt while working in a maritime environment. The Jones Act is part of an expansive law regulating maritime businesses enacted more than a century ago.

The Jones Act allows injured maritime workers to hold their employers accountable for the financial impact of job injuries that occurred due to company negligence. Specifically, injured offshore workers have the right to seek cure and maintenance. Cure in this context refers to the cost of medical treatment for their injuries.

Maintenance, on the other hand, refers to lost wages and the need for funds to cover basic expenses while someone is unable to work. Unlike workers’ compensation, which will only replace a portion of someone’s lost wages, a successful Jones Act claim can lead to full compensation for offshore employees who lose out on wages because of an injury.

While the process of seeking compensation may be more complex for certain employees, it is typically beneficial for injured offshore workers to make use of their rights when they cannot work because they got hurt on the job. Learning more about the unique rules for maritime injuries, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, can benefit workers in dangerous offshore professions.