You were trying to do your job as directed when an offshore accident occurred. Now, you are seriously injured and unable to work for an extended period. You wonder what your rights are and whether your employer is being straight with you about the employer's obligations to you as an injured and out-of-work seaman. Youhave come to the right place. Arnold & Itkin can provide you with helpful, straightforward information and guidance related to your rights as an injured seaman.
We are committed to helping our clients recover fair financial compensation.
When injuries occur offshore, seamen have certain, unconditional rights. Injured seamen have a right to paid medical care, including medicine and physical therapy, as well as their wages for the duration of the voyage and payments for room and board while recovering. Injured seamen are entitled to these benefits regardless of who or what caused the accident. These seaman's rights are the legal obligation of the maritime employer and are in addition to any rights the injured or ill crew may have under the Jones Act or general maritime law.
If you can prove that your employer, the vessel's owner, or someone else aboard the ship was directly responsible for your injury, you may receive compensation for your injury to cover the following:
As a maritime worker, you must be able to demonstrate two things: someone else was negligent in their duties and that their carelessness was directly responsible for your injury. In other words, two isolated events involve your employer's negligence and you getting hurt are not enough to receive compensation. You must demonstrate causation between your employer's breach of duty and any injury you suffered.
If a seaman becomes injured or ill while at sea, he is entitled to living expenses, lost wages, and medical care through the "principle of maintenance and cure act." Through this statute, an injured seaman has a right to specific benefits until that time that he reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI). These benefits are available until the injured seaman is fit to return to work, and regardless of who was at fault.
The term indicates that the shipowner is obligated to "cure" a crew member injured in the service of the ship by providing medical care until the seaman has reached maximum medical improvement. This could include supplying wheelchairs, prosthetics, or pain medications if further improvement is not possible.
These maritime rights allow the seaman to choose his own doctor or medical providers and also give the seaman the option to obtain a second opinion beyond the diagnosis or prognosis of the company doctor.
Cure benefits include the following:
Maintenance benefits are historically based on a minimal daily subsistence rate. In recent years, the courts have interpreted the right to receive maintenance benefits and the employer's duty to provide these benefits as a requirement that the employer provide adequate benefits to cover the seaman's basic living expenses. Those expenses may include rent or mortgage payments, utility expenses, and food costs.
The Jones Act applies to seamen who are injured while working in service to a vessel. However, it does not define who qualifies as a seaman; therefore, it is often difficult for a maritime worker to make the determination about seaman status on his own. When assessing whether a vessel worker qualifies under the definition of "seaman," the court uses a three-part test. The result of the test determines the rights and protection of the worker.
The following are three parts of the seaman status test:
Vessel Assignment - Seamen must be assigned to a vessel active on its own or in a fleet; the vessel cannot be permanently moored; and the vessel must be operating on a navigable waterway. The court will determine what qualifies as a navigable waterway by location of the body of water and its connection to other waterways.
Vessel Contribution - The capacity and duties in which the worker performs must contribute to the function of the vessel, the accomplishment of its mission, or operation or welfare of the vessel in terms of maintenance during its movement or anchorage for future trips. Courts examine the injured worker's duties in relation to the vessel's operation. Deckhands and engineers, for example, meet this definition of the seaman status test.
Vessel Connection - A significant amount of the worker's time must be spent aboard a vessel, performing duties that contribute to or are connected to the vessel. For example, a dockside welder who occasionally goes out to barges might not qualify as a seaman because his primary duties take place on land and his presence on the vessel is transient. Seaman status does not require that 100% of the worker's time be spent on a vessel, but it must be more than an occasional occurrence and must be considered "continuous attachment."
Injuries occur all too often in the offshore industry. Whether you were hurt on inland waterways, off the Gulf, or at sea, Arnold & Itkin can help. We have a track record of helping offshore workers and their families following serious accidents. Our firm knows how to recover full compensation for injuries and fatal accidents.
Seamen can be injured in a number of accidents, such as:
The maritime lawyers at our firm do more than just help clients secure money. We help injured seamen recover physically, financially, and emotionally, obtaining justice on their behalves. When you call on us, we provide helpful guidance and assistance with your claim every step of the way. The immediate impact of an injury is obvious: lost wages, medical bills, pain, and suffering. Even rehabilitation costs may continue for years, adding up. Many people don’t realize how serious the long-term costs of an injury or fatal accident can be.
That is why having a seasoned attorney is important.
The team at our firm understand seaman’s rights as defined by the Jones Act. Seamen have the right to recover damages for their injuries. Over the years, we have helped many seamen retain compensation for the major and everyday costs they face due to their maritime injury. With this understanding of the immediate and long-term costs of injuries, Arnold & Itkin ensures our clients get the adequate compensation they need.
At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we understand a seaman's rights and work to ensure that employers meet their full obligation to injured offshore workers. We have helped many injured offshore workers obtain financial help to pay their medical bills, pay rent, and put food on the table. Our offshore injury law firm holds maritime employers accountable for providing full and inclusive benefits and respecting seamen' rights. If you have questions about your rights, whether or not you qualify for benefits under the Jones Act, or other questions related to maritime law, contact a maritime injury attorney from the firm today. We want to help you in the fight for fair compensation.
"They have given me my life back. They have really given me my life back and my family’s life back. Our life was completely upside down because of what my company had done through all this process. They fought tooth-and-nail for me and my family. Anytime we needed them, they were there."- Josh T.
Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.