Skilled New Orleans Maritime Lawyer
Jones Act Lawyer for Offshore Injuries and Maritime Law in New Orleans
New Orleans maritime lawyer Tom Shlosman enjoys years of experience representing workers and seamen injured on:
Employees working for offshore oil and gas companies are at a substantially higher risk of getting injured and in some cases dying while on the job. Studies show the average fatality rate for U.S. workers is 3.8 deaths per 100,000 employees. That rate is 27.1 deaths per 100,000 for offshore workers. The most famous example is the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill that killed 11 people and affected thousands across the entire Gulf Coast. Seamen and workers who are injured or killed while working aboard barges, tugboats, supply vessels, oil rigs/platforms, crew boats and other vessels are eligible to sue their employers and others responsible under the Jones Act, maritime law. It is vital that your hire a highly skilled and knowledgeable New Orleans maritime lawyer if you have been injured or a loved one has died in a maritime related accident.
The Jones Act holds the employer or the vessel owner liable for any injury that happened as a result of the negligence on their part and provides the injured employee the right to sue the owner for damages. Jones Act lawsuits are substantially different from general state negligence claims. This is why you need to contact a New Orleans Jones Act lawyer to help navigate through the intricacies of the Jones Act. Our New Orleans maritime attorney has the knowledge and experience you need. Maritime Law is a specialized area of the law. Hire a New Orleans maritime attorney that is proven and has a deep understanding of this area is very important.
How Our New Orleans Maritime Accident Lawyer Can Help
Tom Shlosman is licensed to practice before:
- The Louisiana Supreme Court
- All lower state courts
- The federal courts representing the Eastern, Western and Middle Districts of Louisiana
- The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
Whether you were injured on an inland waterway between Lake Charles and Lake Pontchartrain, on the Mississippi Delta, or on the Gulf Coast, Mr. Shlosman stands ready to fight for your rights. Unlike most New Orleans offshore injury attorneys, Mr. Shlosman, a proven New Orleans maritime lawyer, regularly handles Maritime Law Personal Injury cases. He is very familiar with the intricacies of this distinctive area, Maritime Law.
Best Lawyer in Nola!
Tom was very thorough and cares about your case! He was the one calling me explaining [why] things took as long as they [did]. Most of the time you have to constantly call your attorney to see what your status is. He’s the best and he will help you!– Colby, March 24, 2016
Attorney Tom Shlosman did an amazing job handling a legal issue for me. He was very professional, honest, and courteous. He did a great job keeping me updated when changes occurred with my case. He worked very hard for me and I would without a doubt recommend Mr. Shlosman’s services.– Toyin, March 3, 2016
New Orleans Maritime Accident Lawyer Handling All Types of Offshore Injuries
Maritime accidents can lead to all types of injuries. If you’ve been injured offshore, obtaining an accurate diagnosis will be critical for ensuring that you get the treatment you need. But, it is also important to understand that the nature of your injury does not have any bearing on your legal rights. The Jones Act covers all types of injuries, and New Orleans maritime injury attorney Tom Shlosman represents workers who have suffered all types of injuries on the job.
In a maritime setting, certain types of injuries are particularly common. For example, workers onboard barges, tugboats, supply vessels, rigs and platforms, cargo ships, cruise ships, and other vessels regularly suffer injuries such as:
- Burns due to fires, explosions, welding and exposure to toxic chemicals
- Dislocated and broken bones
- Ear, eye and nose injuries
- Electrocution injuries
- Facial injuries
- Inhalation injuries resulting from exposure to toxic fumes and particulates
- Loss of digits and limbs
- Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries (sprains, strains and tears)
- Near-drowning and drowning injuries
- Overexposure and overexertion injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI) and other back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) (including concussions)
Again, these are just examples of some of the most common types of maritime injuries. No matter what type of injury you have suffered, if you got injured on the job, you should talk to a New Orleans maritime accident lawyer about your legal rights as soon as possible.
Understanding Your Legal Rights After a Maritime Accident
What are your legal rights after a maritime accident? This is an important question, and it is one you should not rely on your employer to answer. Unfortunately, companies don’t always have their employees’ best interests in mind, and if you ask your employer what you should do, you might not get the advice you need. Your employer is only going to try and protect the company.
Since maritime accidents occur offshore, they are not governed by the laws that protect land-based workers. Instead, when you get injured on the job, your legal rights are governed by the Jones Act in most cases. Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers who qualify as “seamen” can potentially file one (or more) the following types of claims:
- Maintenance and Cure – Virtually all offshore workers who qualify as “seamen” under the Jones Act can file for maintenance and cure benefits when they get injured on the job. These are “no-fault” benefits, which means you can file a claim even if your employer isn’t at fault for your injury. But, since maintenance and cure benefits are limited (they only cover medical expenses and a small portion of injured seamen’s lost wages), it will be important to speak with a New Orleans maritime accident lawyer about your other legal rights as well. Additionally, despite the fact that employers are supposed to pay maintenance and cure irrespective of fault, many companies fight offshore workers’ claims for these benefits as well.
- Jones Act Negligence – If your employer is at fault for your injury, you may also be able to file a claim for Jones Act negligence. If you have a negligence claim under the Jones Act, a New Orleans maritime injury attorney can seek full compensation for all of your injury-related losses. This includes full lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other forms of financial and non-financial harm—both that you have suffered to date and that you will suffer in the future.
- Unseaworthiness – If you got hurt because the vessel on which you were working was unseaworthy, you may be able to seek full compensation for your losses based on the vessel’s “unseaworthiness” as well. Several factors can make a vessel unseaworthy, from inadequate maintenance and dangerous equipment to a lack of adequate safety gear onboard. Similar to proving Jones Act negligence, proving unseaworthiness requires evidence of liability, so it is important to hire a New Orleans maritime injury attorney to investigate and preserve the available evidence before it disappears.
As we mentioned, the Jones Act only protects offshore workers who qualify as “seamen.” So, how do you know if you qualify as a “seaman”?
Under the Jones Act, a seaman is anyone who spends a significant amount of their workdays onboard a vessel on the water. If you work on a barge, cargo ship or any of the other vessels we listed above, you almost certainly qualify. With that said, when it comes to protecting your legal rights, you should not make any assumptions, and it is best to contact a New Orleans maritime accident lawyer for advice about your situation as soon as possible.
5 Steps to Take After Being Injured in a Maritime Accident
Whether you have a claim (or claims) under the Jones Act or you have a claim under any other law that protects workers who get injured on the job, there are steps you need to take to protect your legal rights. For example, you should generally take the following steps as soon as you can:
1. Report Your Accident
If you have a Jones Act claim, you will need to report your accident in order to protect your legal rights. If you are still onboard your vessel (or still on your rig or platform), you should notify your supervisor or the captain promptly. When you do so, you may be asked to fill out an accident report form, and if so, you could complete the form as fully and accurately as possible.
2. Document Your Accident
Before you submit your accident report, take a photo with your phone so you have a copy (unless it’s already too late, in which case your attorney can obtain a copy for you). From this point forward, you will want to do everything you can to document your accident and its effects. Take photos and videos of the location where you were injured if you can, photograph your injuries, and write down as many details as you can remember about the accident.
3. See a Doctor
You should see a doctor as soon as possible—not only for your health but also for your legal rights. The sooner you seek treatment after your accident, the easier it will be to prove how and when you got injured. While you can see your ship’s doctor for immediate treatment if necessary, you should see your own doctor once you get back to land. You have the right to choose your own doctor under the Jones Act.
4. Talk to a New Orleans Maritime Injury Attorney
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your accident, you will want to talk to a New Orleans maritime injury attorney about your legal rights. Filing a successful Jones Act claim isn’t easy, and if you have a claim for Jones Act negligence or unseaworthiness, you will need a lawyer to prove your claim and calculate the financial compensation you are entitled to recover.
5. Follow Your Attorney’s Advice
Once you speak with an attorney, you should follow your attorney’s advice. Your attorney will have your best interests in mind, and your attorney will want to help you do everything necessary to maximize your financial recovery.
5 Mistakes to Avoid When You Have a Maritime Injury Claim
In addition to taking these steps (along with the additional steps your attorney recommends), you also need to be careful to avoid some costly mistakes after getting injured on the job. For example, here are five mistakes to avoid when you have a maritime injury claim:
1. Waiting Longer Than Necessary
From reporting your accident and seeking treatment to talking with an attorney, you should not wait any longer than necessary to take any of the steps we discussed above. Unnecessary delays can prove costly, and if you wait too long, you could lose your ability to pursue a claim entirely.
2. Assuming You are Only Eligible for Maintenance and Cure Benefits
Many offshore workers assume that they are only eligible for maintenance and cure benefits. As a result, they end up trying to cover the costs of their injuries without recovering the full financial compensation they deserve. When you get injured on the job, it is important not to make any assumptions but instead to make informed decisions based on the advice of an experienced attorney.
3. Letting Your Employer Take Control of Your Recovery
When you are suffering from a job-related injury, you need to avoid letting your employer take control of your recovery. This applies to your treatment and your claim (or claims) under the Jones Act. If you let your employer tell you where to go for treatment, your doctor might be more focused on getting you back to work than providing the most comprehensive treatment possible. If you let your employer decide how much compensation to pay for your injury, you unfortunately only stand a small chance of recovering the full compensation you deserve.
4. Relying on Friends and Family for Legal Advice
While you can rely on your friends and family for emotional support, you should not rely on them for legal advice. Maritime law is complicated, and even most lawyers don’t have a firm grasp of how the law applies. To ensure that you are making informed decisions, you need to rely on the advice of an experienced New Orleans maritime accident lawyer.
5. Trying to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
This brings us to our last mistake to avoid: Trying to handle your situation on your own. Again, it is critical to ensure that you are making informed decisions, and the only way to do this is by putting an experienced lawyer on your side. At the Shlosman Law Firm, we handle all maritime and offshore injury cases on contingency, which means you pay nothing unless you win.
Why You Need a New Orleans Maritime Injury Attorney
Along with avoiding these mistakes (among many others), there are many other reasons to hire a New Orleans maritime injury attorney to help after getting injured on the job. For example, when you hire attorney Tom Shlosman to represent you, he will:
- Determine Which Claim (or Claims) to File Under the Jones Act – Tom will carefully examine the facts of your case to determine if you qualify as a seaman; and, if so, whether you have a claim for negligence or unseaworthiness under the Jones Act. He will use his experience investigating offshore accidents to gather the evidence needed to prove your legal rights.
- Determine if You Have a Claim Outside of the Jones Act – In addition to assessing your legal rights under the Jones Act, Tom will determine if you have any other claims as well. For example, if your accident involved a defective tool, piece of heavy equipment, or offshore safety gear, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Calculate Full Compensation for Your Current and Future Losses – Regardless of the type of claim (or claims) you can file, you need to know how much you are entitled to recover. Tom will work closely with you, your doctors and financial experts as necessary to calculate the full financial and non-financial costs of your offshore injury. This includes any costs you are likely to incur in the future.
- Deal with Your Employer and the Insurance Companies for You – From establishing your eligibility under the Jones Act to making sure you receive the full compensation you deserve, Tom can deal with your employer and the insurance companies for you. This will help you avoid costly mistakes, and if your employer or any of the insurance companies handle your claim in bad faith, Tom can hold them accountable under the law.
- Negotiate a Settlement if Possible, and Go to Court if Necessary – When you have a maritime injury claim, the best-case outcome is to secure a favorable settlement in most scenarios. Tom will use his experience to negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf. But, he will also prepare to take your claim to court if necessary, and under no circumstances will he recommend that you settle for less than you deserve. If the company does not pay what your case is worth we will try your case.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can’t I just file a workers’ compensation claim?
If you were injured on a seagoing vessel, you are probably ineligible to file a workers compensation claim. Instead, you will need to seek compensation under the federal maritime law, if you do not regularly work on a ship.
What is maritime law/admiralty law?
Maritime law, otherwise known as admiralty law, is the type of law that governs activities at sea or in navigable waters. Where it applies, its jurisdiction is exclusive. Under certain circumstances, the maritime law even includes international laws and treaties.
What is the Jones Act and how might it impact my case?
The Jones Act, otherwise known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, provides a system of remedies for “seamen” suffering personal injury (among other provisions). Employees covered by the Jones Act are not covered by the workers’ compensation system. There are significant differences between the Jones Act compensation system, workers’ compensation, and ordinary personal injury law. It is important to hire an experienced New Orleans maritime attorney who can fight by your side.
What are some of the important legal terms used in the Jones Act?
The following terms are useful and, in some cases, critically important:
- “Jones Act Vessel”: One of a wide variety of American-owned seagoing vessels that are subject to the Jones Act (see above for some examples).
- “Jones Act Seaman”: An employee who spends a significant amount of his work time working on a vessel, and who is connected to a particular vessel or fleet of vessels.
- “Unseaworthiness”: An unseaworthy vessel is a vessel that fails to comply with certain requirements of the Jones Act concerning safety, etc.
If it comes to a lawsuit, do I file in state court or in federal court?
You can file a Jones Act claim in either state or federal court. If you file in state court, you run the risk that the defendant might remove the lawsuit to federal court. If you file in federal court, however, the defendant cannot remove the lawsuit to state court.
What kinds of documentation will I need?
At a minimum, you will need to prepare the following:
- Relevant medical records
- The accident report
- Any correspondence about the accident that you received from your employer
- A list of witnesses
- Photos of the accident
Other documentation may be required at some point. A skilled New Orleans maritime attorney will be able to guide you.
Should I see the company doctor or my own doctor?
Use your own doctor, and avoid seeing the company doctor. You do not have to see the company doctor, no matter what your employer might tell you. Remember, once you are injured, the company doctor works for the opposing party. Under no circumstances should you neglect seeking medical treatment, however, because you will need it to generate evidence of your injury. If you have a specific question in regards to your treatment and case, consult with our New Orleans offshore injury attorney that is knowledgeable about Maritime Law.
Is there a time limit for filing a Jones Act claim?
The general rule is that you have until three years after the accident for a privately-owned vessel, and two years after the accident for a government-owned vessel. Since calculating the statute of limitations in a particular case can get tricky due to legal ambiguities, speak with your New Orleans maritime lawyer on this matter after he has become familiar with the facts of your case.
What kinds of acts or omissions might qualify as ‘negligence’ under the Jones Act?
Many different types of behavior might qualify, including:
- Failure to maintain a seaworthy vessel
- Dangerous tools
- Excessively dangerous work assignments
- Inadequate training
- Violation of U.S. Coast Guard Regulations
If you are not sure whether a specific behavior would count as negligence, consult with our New Orleans maritime injury lawyer and find out.
What is ‘proximate cause’ and how does it relate to a Jones Act claim?
To win a personal injury claim, you must not only prove negligence – you must also prove that the negligence actually caused the accident. An accident can have more than one cause, of course. In an ordinary personal injury claim, you must prove that the negligence was a substantial cause of the accident. In a Jones Act claim, you only have to prove that the negligence played some small role in the accident.
What are the most important differences between a Jones Act claim and a workers’ compensation claim?
The three most important differences are:
- Negligence: You need to prove negligence to win a Jones Act claim, but not for a workers’ compensation claim.
- Proximate cause: You must prove causation (see above) to win, and it is easier to prove causation under the Jones Act.
- Intangible damages: Under the Jones Act you could win intangible damages such as pain and suffering damages, but you cannot claim such damages in a workers’ compensation claim.
If you are unsure about whether to pursue a Jones Act claim or workers’ comp claim, consult with our New Orleans maritime accident lawyer today.
What are my legal options if my loved one died in a maritime accident?
The maritime law includes several statutes that allow survivors to seek compensation for the victim of a maritime accident, including the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). Certain close relatives of the deceased victim may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.
My employer wants me to give a recorded statement. Should I do it?
No, you shouldn’t. Employers, advised by their lawyers, have many tricks that they can use to trick you into saying something that they can use against you. Moreover, if they ask you to sign something, make sure you fully understand it before you sign it. Better yet, have your New Orleans maritime attorney look it over first.
What is ‘maintenance and cure?’
“Maintenance and cure” is a phrase that appears in the Jones Act and represents some of the compensation that an injured seaman qualifies for under the Act. “Maintenance” refers to a basic stipend of funds covering the same food and shelter that the seaman would have received had he been still working on a vessel. “Cure” refers to various forms of medical expenses.
My Other Areas of Practice in the New Orleans Area
18 Wheeler Accidents: An out-of-control truck is like a missile rolling down the highway, with equally devastating effects in many cases. Commercial truckers are subject to extensive regulations, the violation of which can form the basis of a personal injury claim. Of course, I also represent truckers injured due to negligent motorists.
Catastrophic Injuries: Catastrophic injuries often require long-term medical treatment. Because of this, a personal injury claimant must accurately calculate his future damages, sometimes even decades into the future. It takes considerable expertise to accurately estimate future medical expenses so that you do not run out of money in years to come.
Auto Accidents: Auto accidents are perhaps the most common form of personal injury claim. Nevertheless, inadequately represented victims often walk away with far less than the true value of their claims, simply because insurance adjusters are savvy negotiators who bring a bag of tricks to the negotiating table. I won’t fall for their tricks.
Personal Injury: Personal injury law covers just about any kind of personal injury that one person’s misconduct inflicts upon another. If you have been injured in the New Orleans area, I stand ready and waiting to help. I am an experienced and knowledgeable New Orleans Personal Injury Lawyer.
Criminal Defense: I began my career as a criminal defense attorney, handling everything from first-degree murder to drug cases. I understand the seriousness of your situation, and I will fight aggressively to protect you. Don’t just “plead guilty and get it over with” – fight back against the system!
No Legal Fees Unless You Win
Since our New Orleans maritime lawyer does not charge upfront fees, and since your initial consultation is free of charge, feel free to contact us even if you don’t have a penny in your pocket. Unless we win your case, your total legal bill from me will be $0.00. Our legal fees are calculated as a percentage of the amount we win for you, and any percentage of zero is still zero.
Start Fighting Back Today!
If you or a loved one has been injured while working for an oil and gas company in the New Orleans area contact an experienced New Orleans maritime attorney at the Shlosman Law Firm today. Time is not on your side. In addition to contacting me through my “Contact Us” page, you may email me at
email@example.com or call me at (504) 826-9427.
With your financial future at stake, you simply cannot afford to trust a maritime injury claim to an amateur. Hire a knowledgeable and proven New Orleans maritime lawyer from the Shlosman Law Firm.