Get Help from an Experienced New Orleans Jones Act Lawyer
If you work on the water and you have been injured on the job, you may have a claim under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that protects maritime employees who are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits because they don’t work on land. To find out if you have a claim—and to make sure you seek the maximum compensation available—you should talk to a New Orleans Jones Act attorney as soon as possible.
Tom Shlosman is a New Orleans Jones Act attorney who has helped thousands of maritime workers collect the financial compensation they deserve after getting injured on the job. He handles claims in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Louisiana’s coastal and inland waters. If you have a Jones Claim—or if you need help understanding your legal rights—Tom can explain everything you need to know and fight to recover just compensation on your behalf.
Do You Qualify as a Jones Act “Seaman?”
The Jones Act only protects maritime workers who qualify as “seamen.” If you aren’t a seaman, this doesn’t mean you are without options—it just means that a different law applies. For example, land-based maritime workers can file injury claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), and those who work on fixed platforms in the Gulf of Mexico must file their claims under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).
But, most maritime workers qualify as seamen under the Jones Act, and if you’ve been injured on the job, hiring a New Orleans Jones Act lawyer to determine whether you qualify is one of the first steps you should take to protect your legal rights. Your lawyer will likely determine that you qualify as a seaman if:
- You work on a vessel or a floating rig or platform;
- Your job duties contribute to the function of the vessel (or rig or platform) or to its mission;
- You spend a substantial portion of your workday on the water, and,
- The vessel (or rig or platform) is in navigable waters and capable of moving.
Deckhands, crewmembers, captains, first mates, engineers, cooks and other employees who spend their days on the water will qualify as seamen under the Jones Act in most cases. With that said, it is important not to make any assumptions about your legal rights, and you should seek advice from a New Orleans Jones Act attorney as soon after getting injured as possible.
5 Important Rights Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act provides seamen with several important legal rights. When you have a Jones Act claim, asserting these legal rights is essential for making sure you fully recover and do not bear the costs of your injury unnecessarily. For example, if you qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, your legal rights include:
1. The Right to Maintenance and Cure Benefits
All seamen qualify for maintenance and cure benefits when they get injured on the job. These are “no-fault” benefits, so you have the right to file a claim regardless of how you got injured, with only very rare exceptions (i.e., if you were intoxicated or injured yourself intentionally). These benefits are intended to cover the costs of your medical care and to provide a small stipend during your recovery. However, they do not nearly cover all of the costs of suffering a significant on-the-job injury.
2. The Right to Additional Compensation for Jones Act Negligence
Since maintenance and cure benefits are limited, many injured seamen will need to pursue other sources of financial recovery as well. In many cases, one of these sources is a claim for Jones Act negligence. Under the Jones Act, injured seamen can seek full compensation for their on-the-job injuries when they can prove that their employers are to blame. Jones Act negligence can take many forms, including (but not limited to):
- Failing to provide employees with adequate training
- Failing to provide employees with safe tools and equipment
- Failure to follow appropriate safety procedures
- Forcing employees to work in dangerous weather or sea conditions
- Hiring inexperienced or unqualified employees
If you have a claim for negligence, a New Orleans Jones Act attorney can seek full compensation for your current and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other financial and non-financial losses. These losses can be substantial, and they can far exceed the benefits available to you through a claim for maintenance and cure.
3. The Right to Additional Compensation for Unseaworthiness
The Jones Act also gives injured seamen the right to seek additional compensation when their injuries result from unseaworthy conditions. Under the Jones Act, a vessel can be deemed “unseaworthy” for various reasons—including many reasons that have nothing to do with the vessel’s ability to remain afloat. For example, some of the most common grounds for pursuing an unseaworthiness claim under the Jones Act include:
- Dangerous stairs, ladders and handrails
- Inadequate personal floatation devices (PFDs) or lifeboats onboard
- Inadequately trained crew
- Slippery walking surfaces on or below deck
- Unmaintained and non-operational equipment onboard
There are many other examples of unseaworthy vessel conditions as well. To prepare for your free initial consultation with a New Orleans Jones Act lawyer, you should write down as many details about your accident as you can remember. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for your lawyer to determine your legal rights.
4. The Right to Choose Your Doctor
When you have a Jones Act claim, you have the right to choose your own doctor. While you may not have an option other than to see your ship’s onboard doctor initially, once you get back to land, you should see a doctor of your own choosing. This will ensure that your doctor has your best interests in mind and that you receive treatment focused on helping you recover as fully as possible—even if this means that your employer owes more for maintenance and cure.
5. The Right to Hire an Attorney to Represent You
You also have the right to hire an attorney to represent you. When you have a Jones Act claim, there are lots of reasons to put an experienced attorney on your side. Your attorney can determine which claim (or claims) you should file, and your attorney can handle your claim (or claims) for you to help ensure that you receive the full financial compensation you deserve.
5 Important Facts About Jones Act Claims
Let’s say you have a Jones Act claim. What else do you need to know in order to protect your legal rights? Here are five important facts about seeking financial compensation for a maritime injury under the Jones Act:
1. You Have Three Years to File a Claim (But Shouldn’t Wait Nearly This Long)
The statute of limitations for filing a maritime injury claim under the Jones Act is three years. However, you should not wait anywhere near this long to assert your legal rights. In fact, you shouldn’t wait at all. Unnecessary delays can lead to unnecessary challenges, so it is best to get started right away.
2. It Is Up to You (and Your Attorney) to Prove Your Legal Rights
As an injured seaman, it is up to you (and your attorney) to prove your legal rights under the Jones Act. Your employer isn’t going to investigate your accident for you, and it isn’t going to make decisions about your claim with your best interests in mind. Your employer is only going to try and protect the company, they are not going to protect you or your family.
3. You May Be Able to File Multiple Jones Act Claims
If you have a claim for Jones Act negligence or unseaworthiness (or both), you can still file a claim for maintenance and cure benefits. As long as you don’t unknowingly waive your right to additional compensation, you can collect maintenance and cure while your New Orleans Jones Act attorney fights for additional compensation on your behalf.
4. But, You Only Get One Chance to Assert Your Jones Act Rights
While you may be able to file multiple claims under the Jones act, you only get one chance to assert your legal rights. If you try to handle your case on your own and do not recover the full financial compensation you deserve, you won’t necessarily be able to go back and ask for more.
5. It Costs Nothing Out-of-Pocket to Hire a New Orleans Jones Act Lawyer
Finally, you can hire a New Orleans Jones Act lawyer at no out-of-pocket cost. At the Shlosman Law Firm, we handle all Jones Act claims on a contingency fee basis, which means our clients pay nothing upfront, and they pay nothing at all unless we win.
Request a Free Consultation with an Experienced New Orleans Jones Act Attorney
Do you need to know more about asserting your legal rights under the Jones Act? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible, call 504-826-9427 or tell us how we can reach you online now.