Jones Act / Maritime Injuries
Like railroad workers, injured seamen are offered extra protection by federal statute. The Jones act is a remedial, humanitarian Act designed to fairly and adequately compensate worker’s exposed to the “perils of the sea” for on the job injuries. To recover under the Jones Act, a seaman must show that their employer was negligent and caused the injury.
Jones Act has the same protection as the FELA, which protects the rights of railroad workers. Because the Jones Act is modeled by the FELA’s statutory language, federal courts tend to apply the same analysis of negligence issues arising under both statutes.
Under the FELA and Jones Act, an employer has a statutory duty to provide a reasonably safe place to work.
If you are employed on a vessel that is in navigation, you may be eligible as a Jones Act seaman.
An employee that doesn’t qualify as a Jones Act seaman, may be covered under other laws such as the Longshore or Maritime law.
All along the Gulf Coast there are oil rigs, offshore platforms, fishing charters and large commercial shipping/boating industries. Persons are injured daily on the waters due to unsafe work conditions or due to the negligence of others.
Rome, Arata, Baxley & Stelly is a law firm dedicated to the representation of workers injured in the transportation industry. The firm has a combined sixty (60) years of experience handling Jones Act and FELA cases. We are loyal to the individuals and families we represent and do not represent insurance companies or large corporations.
Our firm knows that we must start to work and develop your claim as soon as possible. Transportation companies start their defense as soon as an injury occurs and continues their tactics in an effort to deny or reduce their exposure for paying even the most legitimate claims. Our experience has shown that the transportation industry, its claims agents, investigators and lawyers fight hard to prove that they have no responsibility for most claims. We expect this battle and prepare to win the war in each and every case using our experienced team of lawyers, investigators and paralegals.
We engage a team approach on all cases so that someone is always available to respond to our client’s needs. We also prepare each case for trial, developing each and every theory of recovery to maximize each claim. We do this because the largest claims are won when a case is fully prepared to go to trial. Only then will employers feel the most pressure to pay full and fair compensation for their employee’s injury.
Any person injured on a vessel; rig; platform or by another party while at work should take the following steps to protect themselves and their family:
1. Note what the vessel; rig; platform and/or any other parties did wrong to cause the injury. Under workman’s compensation laws, it is not necessary to prove that the employer was at fault to recover damages. But for seamen under the Jones Act and railroad workers under The Federal Employer’s Liability Act allows you can recover only if there is proof that your employer was at fault for the injury. That’s why you should note any defective equipment, procedures or other unsafe working conditions such as trip/slip hazards or lack of appropriate lighting, etc… Put these down on the accident report.
Lawyers and claims agents who work for the transportation industry typically argue that the companies had no knowledge of the dangerous condition which led to the injury. For this reason, also make note of any similar previous injuries or complaints about the dangerous condition. Prior written complaints can prove to be especially helpful for your case. Provide this information to Rome, Arata, Baxley & Stelly or your Local Chairman.
2. Immediately report your accident to your supervisor; and fill out an injury report. Many times an injury can at first appear to be minor even though it is in fact very serious. If you suffer an on-the job injury while working, you should notify your supervisor immediately. Insist on filling out the appropriate forms. Failure to do this allows your employer or other defendants to argue that the injury did not occur at a time or place where they can be held accountable.
Be sure to include the phrase “etc.” wherever possible to cover any information the company might claim you should have included. If you have any questions feel free to call Rome, Arata, Baxley, and Stelly or your Local Chairman.
3. Do not volunteer information that is not requested on the report and do not admit any responsibility for the accident. Note the names and phone numbers of all co-workers and any other witnesses.
Witnesses are an excellent means of proving that the company is at fault for the injury. If you are too badly hurt to find this information, ask a crewmember to get it for you.
4. Get photographs of the accident scene before it is changed and/or corrected.
5. Take photographs of any cuts, bruising, or injuries sustained.
6. Seek immediate medical attention. Make sure you are checked out by a doctor of your own choosing as soon as possible after your injury. Tell your doctor about all parts of your body that were injured, even if some of the injuries don’t seem severe. Be aware that your employer may try to send you to a company doctor. Company doctors are not to be trusted.
7. Always be truthful and consistent. Always be truthful with your doctor concerning any past medical treatment. Past medical records are discoverable and will eventually be reviewed by the defendants or their attorneys.
8. Be wary of the claims agent. They may seem friendly, but the job of a claims agent is to save the company money by reducing the value of your claim. Do not give them a statement without first consulting a law firm such as Rome, Arata, Baxley & Stelly. Beware of promises made by claims agents. Even if they intend to keep them, a claim agent’s job is not assured and they cannot guarantee how long they will be working for the company.
9. Get help. From the moment you are injured, the shipping company has a legal team already in place working AGAINST your interests. The company claims agents work hand in hand with company lawyers to reduce the value of your claim. As an injured worker, you need someone on your side with as much experience fighting FOR your rights. Rome, Arata, Baxley & Stelly are experienced in dealing with the liability, medical, insurance, and disability issues that are involved in these claims. If you are injured, contact your local or general chairman and a lawyer who specializes in Jones Act/ FELA cases, such as Rome, Arata, Baxley & Stelly.
To schedule a free initial consultation with our Jones Act Maritime Injuries attorneys, call 504-521-7946, 800-249-1306 or contact us online.