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In Louisiana, we enjoy one of the largest and most successful maritime industries in the United States. Many Louisiana residents and Louisiana workers, have, at one point been employed in the maritime industry or have family members employed in the maritime industry. Many of the rest of us enjoy the Louisiana costal waterways and offshore and recreational activities including offshore fishing, inshore fishing, and boating.
Unfortunately, the maritime industry and recreational use of Louisiana waterways result in thousands of maritime and offshore accidents each year as a result of the negligence and/or fault of other persons or entities. Injuries caused in these capacities may entitle the injured party and their family to recovery under the various bodies of law which govern both Louisiana territorial and the international waterways in the Gulf of Mexico.
Offshore or maritime litigation involves some of the most complicated laws that any attorney can handle. There are many attorneys who hold themselves out as "maritime attorneys," when the truth is they have no idea how to handle a maritime case. The true sign of an "experienced" trial attorney is when you get referrals from other lawyers. At Law Office of Jason M. Welborn, we have enjoyed many years of experience in the maritime and admiralty trade. This experience and knowledge of the various bodies of law, and their intra-play with Louisiana State Regulations, provide us a unique understanding of the recovery available to the injured person and their family.
Jones Act Claims
Louisiana supports one of the largest Maritime industries in the United States. In the maritime industry, many of these people are employed to work on and aboard vessels of various types in Louisiana. These workers are entitled to take advantage of a unique body of law called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act. Unlike nearly every other body of law, the Jones Acts allows an injured worker to sue his employer for the employer's or a co-employee’s negligence occurring during work. An employer has a duty to exercise care by providing a reasonably safe work environment, training about safety in the workplace, and by providing adequate equipment. The Jones Act allows an injured worker to sue his employer for:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Past lost wages
Unlike the workers' compensation scheme, which only allows for workers' compensation benefits, the Jones Act offers an injured employee a far greater scope for recovery. The Jones Act applies to employees who are injured in the service of a vessel or fleet of vessels, when they contribute to the mission of this vessel. Under current law, a vessel includes jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, ships, drill barges, river casinos, tug boats, shrimp boats, fishing boats, trollers, tankers, crew boats, utility boats, offshore support vessels, and water taxies. If the injured worker is working aboard one of these vessels, and their work contributes, in any way, to the overall mission of that vessel, then they are entitled to sue their employers and/or co-employees for injuries resulting from their negligence. In addition to workers injured aboard vessels, people who spend more than 30 percent of their time aboard an identifiable vessel or fleet of vessels may qualify as a Jones Act seaman, even if they were hurt while on land or while traveling to work aboard these vessels. A Jones Act seaman does not lose his status as a seaman, simply because he was injured on land.
A lawsuit for a Jones Act seaman against his or her employer means a greater recovery of damages that may otherwise be unavailable under most other bodies of law. If you have been hurt on a vessel or in the service of a vessel, you should contact Law Office of Jason M. Welborn immediately to explore what remedies are available to you under the Jones Act.
Why do I need a specialized admiralty attorney?
Although all lawyers are licensed to practice in all areas of law, passing the bar exam does not in fact qualify every lawyer to deal with issues of admiralty and maritime law. Modern statutes have modified a body of law that evolved from diverse sources over the past 200 years. Admiralty lawyers know and understand this complexity and can help protect your rights.
Louisiana has a 397-mile coastline and 30,000 people employed offshore, in shipping, on oil rigs, and in the fishing industry. Regular maritime injuries, accidents, and sometimes deaths create an environment in which even lawyers without much experience in the field are tempted to hang out a shingle as admiralty attorneys. Do not be fooled: it takes an experienced admiralty lawyer to properly protect your rights.