If you work in the maritime industry, you know how easily maritime injuries can occur. In such a high-risk industry, it is also important that you know what to do if disaster strikes. Here are our recommendations for 6 things to know about maritime injuries in Texas.
- The Jones Act
The Jones Act was established in 1920 and was revised again in 2006. The Jones Act is a Federal Statute that provides laws, rules, and regulations governing activity on U.S. waterways and ports. The Jones Act was first established in hopes of protecting seamen from the “land-laws,” which govern only land-based activity. Typically, land-based employees are protected under state law. This benefit is not afforded to maritime employees, nor does state-saw protect seamen from injures occurring on the high seas. For example, if you are working on a construction site on land and are injured on job, you are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits from your employer or through your employers insurance. On the other hand, if you are a maritime worker and are injured on the high seas or away from port, then you are not entitled to file for benefits against your employer for their negligence. This leaves thousands of maritime workers each year without benefits that they would normally be afforded had their injury occurred on land as opposed to water.
The Jones Act was established to help injured seamen recover compensation and benefits from their injuries sustained while working on U.S. waterways or at ports. The Jones Act protects only a specific type of maritime worker, so it is vital to make sure that you meet all of the qualifications in order to establish liability against your employer and recover the compensation and benefits you deserve as a direct result of your employer’s negligence.
- Injured Seamen Protected by The Jones Act
Individuals working on navigable waters who contribute to at least 30 percent of the work on the vessel are usually covered under The Jones Act. These individuals may include (but are not necessarily limited to):
Determining your eligibility to be considered a seamen may depend on your individual role, working hours, and physical place of employment. You must work on navigable waters in order to qualify for protection under The Jones Act. To be considered as working on navigable waters:
- You must work on a river, inland lake (must be linked to other bodies of water or be bordered by two or more states), or ocean. Navigable waters are those considered suitable for foreign or domestic trade.
- Your main job function must be offshore, or on a vessel that is tied down or “moored” to a dock.
- You must contribute to at least 30 percent of the work done onboard in order to be covered under the statute.
If you do not qualify to file a claim under The Jones Act, there are alternative ways to recover the compensation that you deserve. If you work as a contractor and move from boat-to-boat or vessel-to-vessel, then it is likely that you are covered under other maritime or longshore laws.
- Statute of Limitations – The Amount of Time You Have to File a Claim
The statute of limitations is a legal term commonly used to refer to the amount of time you have to file a claim for damages after you or a loved one have been injured on-the-job. In Texas, you have three (3) years to file a claim and receive compensation for your damages from the time of the injury or death.
Being aware of the statute of limitations is so important because once the time has expired (also known as running), then you will no longer to be able to pursue a claim, and will be unable to receive compensation that you may have been entitled to otherwise.
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
Injured seamen who are not covered under the Jones Act, may be protected by additional maritime laws such as The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This act aims to protect workers who are not classified as seamen. If you are classified as any one of the following employees or workers on a vessel, dock, wharf, or longshore, then you are entitled to compensation for the injuries you have sustained while on the job:
- Ship repair person
- Harbor Worker
- Employee assigned to load, unload, or perform maintenance on vessels in navigable waters
- Employee working at a wharf, dry dock, pier, terminal, or marine railway
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) was enacted in the 1920’s to protect the families of maritime workers killed while in the course of their employment aboard a ship or vessel in navigable waters. The DOHSA helps families that have lost a loved one in the maritime industry recover significant amounts of compensation from a negligent employer via a wrongful death claim. The DOHSA allows only a spouse, child, parent, or other dependent relative to recover compensation sought in such claims. In order for a family member to recover compensation under the statute, the death must be the fault of the victim’s employer, either partially, or in full.
- Maintenance And Cure
Maintenance and Cure is a legal doctrine that provides assistance to maritime workers who are injured on the job. Depending on your classification as a maritime worker, you may or may not qualify for maintenance and cure. The two most common classifications qualifying for maintenance and cure are:
- Commercial Fisherman
- Merchant seamen
Maintenance and cure benefits are only available until the you reach maximum medical improvement, or until you have recovered from your injury as much as much as possible with proper treatment. In some cases, you may never fully regain the health and mobility you lost as a result of a devastating accident. This means that you will receive maintenance and cure benefits that will cover your ongoing costs such as, daily living expenses, food, housing, and essential utilities.
Texas Maritime Injury Attorneys
If you work in the maritime industry and have been injured on the job, it is important that you know these 6 steps, and how best to protect your rights and your family. Because of the complexities of maritime law, it is important that you contact a maritime injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and explore any options you have to pursue recovery. Contact the skilled, successful maritime injury attorneys at Brown Wharton & Brothers today by filling out our form, or by calling us toll free a 1-866-871-8422.