What Should I Do If I am Hurt?
Maritime workers experience numerous on the job accidents, such as chemical burns, slips and falls, and prolonged exposure to hazardous fumes. Other reasons for the injuries caused by longshoremen accidents include faulty equipment, poorly packed cargo, and the lack of safety gear. Employer negligence leads to many of the accidents that put harbor workers out of work or worse, into long term medical care facilities.
Fortunately, the United States Congress recognized the health risks posed by maritime occupations by passing two important worker protection laws.
Often called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act includes legal provisions that protect American workers who from an accident or illness while at sea. The most important provision written into the Act compensates injured and sick seamen for employer negligence. Unsafe working conditions and failure to perform equipment maintenance represent two of the factors that cause at sea injuries and illnesses.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Seven years after the passage of the first piece of legislation that protects maritime employees, Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The comprehensive legislation compensates employees, provides medical care, and offers vocational rehabilitation services to get injured and ill naval professionals back on the job as quickly as possible. The LHWCA also pays survivor benefits to dependants if an accident and/or working conditions leads to death. Under the landmark law, the term “injury” encompasses hearing loss, occupational diseases, and sicknesses initiated by unsafe employment environments
What You Should Do
Both maritime worker protection laws require plaintiffs to file timely lawsuits that claim employer liability. Professionals who make a living at sea have three years under the Jones Act from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. Only seaman can file under the Jones Act, which covers maritime workers who spend at least 30% of their professional time on board a United States chartered ship over navigable waters. You also must contribute to the work performed on the vessel. For legal claims made invoking the LHWCA, you have one year from the date of the event to file a lawsuit. Congress has written some exceptions into the statutes of limitations for the LHWCA.
After the Injury or Illness
What should you do if you get hurt starts by filing a detailed accident report that includes the time, date, and location of the incident. You must file the paperwork with your employer. Discover who witnessed the health care scare and ask for contact information from each person. You can expect to need witnesses to collaborate your side of the story to bolster your case.
Contact a Sea Injury Attorney
If you think you qualify to file a lawsuit under either the Jones Act or LHWCA, you should contact a licensed attorney who has amassed considerable experience litigating maritime injury cases. Most attorneys offer a free consultation to review the facts that pertain to a potential lawsuit. A highly skilled attorney can help you understand both complex pieces of federal legislation to take the right legal steps towards reaching the conclusion of your case claiming employer negligence.
Remember never to offer to make any statements or testimony that discusses the lawsuit, without first conferring with your lawyer. Some companies try to persuade employees to sign off on a financial arrangement before the onset of a lawsuit. In addition to settling for less money that you would have received at the end of trial or settlement forged by your lawyer, companies attempt to force naval professionals into making mistakes that damage their legal standing.