Union Membership & Maintenance and Cure: What You Should Know
In maritime law, any maritime worker injured or made ill by an accident on the job has the legal right to be compensated, no matter what happened or which party was at fault in the incident. The law that governs this compensation is known as “maintenance and cure.” “Maintenance” refers to the daily needs and living expenses of the maritime worker, while “cure” refers to any hospital bills or other medical expenses related to the injury/illness.
What Is a Union Seaman?
A union seaman is one who is part of a labor organization that aims to support and protect the rights of maritime workers. As such, a union seaman’s work contract may be under the jurisdiction of various union rules regarding how much he or she will receive for maintenance and cure in the case of a workplace accident.
How Union Membership Affects Maintenance and Cure Rates
Because some labor unions set specific maintenance and cure rates based on what they believe is most fair for its members, the pre-determined rate given by the union will always be what is paid, regardless of the circumstances. For example: if the union contract specifies that maritime workers will receive maintenance of $900 each month, an injured union seaman will receive $900 a month.
It is important to note, however, that this is not necessarily the case nationwide. In some areas of the country, your contract may not fall under union rules regarding maintenance. The best way to know for certain where you fall is to discuss your case with an experienced maintenance and cure attorney.
Get What You Deserve with an Experienced Maritime Lawyer
If your employer refuses to pay the maintenance and cure that you are owed as a result of an accident, it’s time to enlist the help of a professional maritime law attorney. In 100 years of representing maritime workers, Maintenance and Cure lawyers have recovered more than $720 million for injured offshore workers.
To discuss your case for free with a knowledgeable maritime lawyer, call us today at 1-800-836-5830.
Claims Under the Jones Act and General Maritime Law
The Jones Act provides protections to seamen who are injured while in the service of a vessel and who can prove their employer was negligent. The law also stipulates employers must provide employees with a safe working environment and take steps to ensure the vessel is maintained within reasonably accepted conditions. In fact, negligence under the Jones Act is defined as any act, no matter how slight, which caused or contributed to cause injury to the seaman.
What Is Unseaworthiness?
A ship owner owes every crew member employed on its vessel the absolute duty to keep its vessel and all its decks, gear, tools, and equipment in good condition at all times. If the vessel owner does not provide a vessel in good working order, and the vessel or equipment is the cause of an injury to the seaman, then the vessel owner is responsible to the seaman for his/her damages that resulted from that injury.
For example, if the seaman is assigned to do a job and is provided tools or equipment that fail and cause injury to the seaman, the vessel owner is responsible to pay the damages suffered by the seaman. Also, if the seaman is assigned to do a job and is injured because not enough people were assigned to help complete the task, then the owner is responsible for the seaman’s injury and damages.
If a seaman suffers injury due to the negligence of the owner, captain, or crew of a vessel (Jones Act), or because the vessel or its equipment or manning was insufficient to safely complete the job, then a seaman can be compensated for past and future wage loss, medical care, pain, suffering, mental anguish, and any impairment suffered.
For more information about General Maritime Law or the Jones Act, or to find out if you have grounds to file an injury claim against your employer or the ship’s owner, call the maritime law experts at Maintenance and Cure by phoning 1-800-836-5830 now!
Maintenance and Cure: Important Facts You Should Know
Maintenance and Cure provides monetary benefits for men and women who work on boats, barges, floating drilling rigs, and any other craft capable of transporting people or things across water, while working in the service of a vessel. The law is designed to protect you should you become ill or injured, regardless of whether the vessel is at sea or docked in a port, or whether the illness or injury happened on land or at sea.
Can I Claim Maintenance and Cure if My Employer Was Not at Fault?
Maintenance and Cure are owed to you regardless of who is responsible for your illness or injury. The only requirement, in order to file a claim, is that you were injured or became ill while in service of a vessel.
What Is Maintenance?
Maintenance is an amount of money paid to the employee while he or she recovers. It is an allowance meant to cover basic living expenses paid at a per-day rate. The amount of maintenance varies according to the expenses of the seaman, but should cover the costs of basic housing and food for the seaman, and the costs of transportation to and from medical care
What Is Cure?
Cure is compensation paid by the employer to cover all reasonable costs of treatment and medical expenses for the illness or injury.
How Long Do Maintenance and Cure Payments Last?
Maintenance and Cure payments only last until your doctor finds you have recovered and reached “maximum” cure. This means, in some cases, the worker may not necessarily be able to return to work or have fully recovered from the injuries. It simply means that the seaman has reached the point in recovery where further treatment will not improve the seaman’s condition.
Is There Any Recourse if I Cannot Return to Work?
The Jones Act Law and the General Maritime Law provide for further compensation for employees who have been injured while in service of a vessel and who can prove their employer was negligent or that the vessel was unsafe or unseaworthy. Filing a claim under the Jones Act or General Maritime Law is a separate process from filing a claim under Maintenance and Cure.
For assistance in filing a Maintenance and Cure claim, Jones Act claim, General Maritime Law claim, or for other questions regarding maritime laws, please feel free to contact the maritime and admiralty lawyers at Maintenance and Cure by calling 1-800-836-5830 today!
Common Causes of Injuries Upon Offshore Rigs
Many of our petroleum energy needs are met from offshore oil rigs and the workers who work on these rigs daily. Unfortunately, working offshore presents itself with the real world potential for accidents, injuries, and, in some cases, even death.
There are several common causes and reasons for maritime accidents and injuries, ranging from slips and falls to poorly maintained equipment and understaffed working conditions. Fortunately, Maintenance and Cure maritime laws are designed to protect workers, regardless of who was at fault for the injuries.
The extent of injuries does depend upon the type of accident the worker experienced. Personal injuries can be severe, in some cases, resulting in broken or lost limbs, as well as brain and spinal trauma. To discover some of the more notable recent offshore oil rig accidents and additional information about the common causes, types of injuries, and why accidents occur, please feel free to continue reading the following infographic!
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Maritime Personal Injury Settlements: What You Need to Know
Personal injury settlements relating to maritime law and the Jones Act can result in substantial amounts. In the past, the monetary value of settlements reached between the plaintiff and defendant have been in the millions of dollars.
In one case, involving an injured seaman in the service of the S.S. Cape Jacob, a $2 million settlement was reached shortly before the case was to go to court. In this case, the worker was injured while securing mooring lines, yet the captain ordered a tugboat pulling the ship to move away before they were secure.
In another case, which occurred in Seattle, workers injured while performing cleaning task settled the case for over $1.1 million. In this case, the company operating the ferry had inadvertently mixed bleach with another cleaning product, resulting in a chemical reaction causing injury to the workers.
However, there is some key information you need to know and understand in regards to how settlements are calculated. To help determine the potential settlement amount you could receive, your maritime personal injury lawyer will examine and review several pieces of information, including:
- The costs of medical treatments and services. Keep in mind, payments already made under Maintenance and Cure relief cannot be included as part of your settlement calculation.
- Anticipated future medical treatments and services costs.
- Past, present and future lost wages. Any wages not paid under Maintenance and Cure, along with future earnings, can be used as part of the settlement amount.
- The cost of benefits you have lost. In cases where you have lost retirement benefits, health insurance, and other such forms of compensation, these can be included as part of your settlement.
- Pain and suffering you are experiencing and may continue to experience. The value for pain and suffering can be difficult to determine, but lawyers often rely upon medical expert testimony to help establish a fair and reasonable amount.
If you have been injured while in service of a vessel, it is your right to consult with a qualified maritime injury lawyer from Maintenance and Cure. Contact our law office at 1-800-836-5830 for a consultation today!
Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
You’ve suffered an injury. What do you do now? Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit, but how do you know if you have a valid case? Even if you’re sure a lawsuit is the right action, there are a number of questions to be answered. What should you do first? Should you contact a lawyer immediately? When should you see a doctor? How long will the process take? What is your responsibility and what is your lawyer’s responsibility?
Pursuing a lawsuit can be a complicated business. Thankfully there are attorneys who can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system. Of course, the first few steps are your responsibility. Only after seeking immediate medical attention and choosing a qualified attorney can the legal system go to work for you.
In the end, knowing the proper procedure for filing a personal injury lawsuit is crucial to ensuring a favorable outcome. It’s also important to remember that a personal injury lawsuit may take a great deal of time and effort, on your part and on the part of your lawyer. More than anything, you’ll need to be patient while the process unfolds.
We’ve created this helpful infographic to give you the critical information you need to get the ball rolling. Take a look at the graphic below to learn more about the steps you’ll need to take if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit.
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Jones Act: What You Should Know
Maritime Laws provide a variety of protections for seamen in the service of a vessel. One such protection is covered under the Jones Act, which is sometimes referred to as the Merchant Marine Act. In addition to providing specific protections for seamen injured due to the negligence of the employer, the Act also has provisions on the shipment of goods into United States ports, as well as the regulation of commerce and transport of goods while in U.S. controlled waters.
The Jones Act is a separate form of compensation claim an injured seaman can file with assistance from a Jones Act law firm. It allows the seaman to seek compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and long-term medical treatment and care, beyond compensation paid through maintenance and cure claims.
However, a seaman must prove the employer was negligent in order to have grounds to file a claim under the Jones Act. In cases where the employer is not negligent, the extent of compensation a seaman is entitled to receive is limited to that provided through a maintenance and cure claim.
The Definition of a Seaman
The Jones Act’s definition of a seaman is rather vague. Federal courts and even the Supreme Court have interpreted the definition in the past to help distinguish which types of workers are covered under the Act. In addition, an employee must spend a certain amount of time onboard the vessel and perform specific tasks, which are directly related to helping further the operations of the vessel.
The minimum amount of time spent onboard a vessel can and does vary on a case-by-case basis. If you are injured while working in the service of a vessel but are not sure whether you would be defined as a seaman, it is in your best interests to consult with a maritime and Jones Act lawyer from Maintenance and Cure. Do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-836-5830 to find out your legal rights and speak with one of our lawyers now!
What Is the Difference Between Worker’s Compensation and Jones Act Claims?
Two forms of compensation a worker can seek, after being injured on the job, are worker’s compensation and Jones Act claims. The key distinction between the two has to do with where the injured occurred:
- If it occurred on land, in most cases, the claim would be filed under worker’s compensation.
- If it occurred while in the service of a vessel, even while docked, then the claim would be filed under the Jones Act.
Another difference between the two is in regards to fault. Worker’s compensation claims are considered “no fault” claims. In other words, it does not matter whether the employee or employer was at fault. Jones Act claims, on the other hand, require that the employer was negligent in some manner. However, it is worth noting, Maritime Laws do provide “no fault” protections under maintenance and cure claims.
Maintenance and cure claims are separate claims and are not the same as a claim filed under the Jones Act. In order to prove negligence while in service of a vessel, an employee must demonstrate the employer did not provide safe working conditions, in one or more areas of the vessel, including but not limited to:
- Understaffing of Crewmen
- Employee Not Properly Trained
- Hazardous Conditions Present
- Equipment Insufficient or in Improper Repair
- Vessel Is Deemed Unsafe
Furthermore, a crewman is entitled to file for addition damages for pain and suffering and all lost wages through the Jones Act, whereas, with a worker’s compensation claim, the injured employee is limited in the extent of compensation recoverable and could be prevented from filing a lawsuit against the employer.
Maritime Laws do provide better protections for workers, compared to worker’s compensation. Determining what recourse you could potentially have against an employer through maintenance and cure and the Jones Act is easier when you seek legal advice from qualified maritime and Jones Act attorneys, like those here at SMSH. Contact our maritime law office at 1-800-836-5830 to speak with a lawyer today!
The Dangers of Falling/Moving Objects on Ships and Vessels
Working on a ship, vessel, or rig has its own potential risks and dangers for accidents. Most types of accidents can be prevented with the proper safety training, equipment, gear, and education.
One of the more frequent types of accidents workers experience is caused from falling or moving objects on board. There are several ways to reduce the risks associated with working in areas where there is a potential for falling or moving objects, as follows:
- Wear High-Visibility Clothing – Make sure others can see you and know you are in a work area where they might be moving objects overhead or on deck.
- Wear Safety Helmets/Gear/Apparel – Make sure to wear hard hats and other safety gear in dangerous work areas. If you are working at elevated levels, remember to use fall prevention safety harnesses.
- Be Aware of Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards – The deck can be slippery from water, oil, and other residue. Make sure to wear nonslip foot wear for better grip, along with proper toe protection to protect feet from dropped objects.
- Know the Path/Movement of Overhead Swings and Hooks – Before moving objects using an overhead swing or hook, make sure you know their path and whether they could place people underneath where they might be injured.
- Never Enter Work Areas While Objects Are Being Moved – During the movement of overhead objects, stay out of work areas below. If you must be in the work area below, remember tip #1 above.
- Keep Doors, Lockers, and Stowage Compartments Closed – To prevent loose objects from moving freely about, securely shut and verify latches are in the closed position.
- Never Work Alone – If you must work alone, make sure to let others know where you intend to work and what you will be doing, and use a radio for communications.
By using the above tips and enforcing the best safety practices on your ship, vessel, or rig, you can help reduce the risks for accidents and injuries.
If you have sustained injuries from moving or falling objects, you may have certain maritime personal injury legal rights. To find out your rights, contact the Jones Act attorneys at Maintenance and Cure by phoning 800-836-5830 now.
The Difference Between Vessel and Platform Rigs
There are several different types of rigs used for offshore drilling and exploration, and these include both vessel and platform rigs. The primary difference between a vessel and platform rig is one’s ease of mobility from one location to another.
One common type is called the “jack-up” rig. These get this name because they can be moved directly over the location to drill or pump oil. The rig can be self-elevated below the vessel to the bottom of the ocean floor to secure it in place. Jack-up rigs are well suited for shallow waters of 400 feet or less.
For deeper waters up to 12,000 feet, the preferred method of exploration and drilling is to use semisubmersibles and drill ships. Semisubmersible work-decks float on top of the water, while the vast majority of their mass is contained below the water to help stabilize the platforms and keep them in place. As a result, the deck is rather stable and well-suited for drilling in rough waters. However, semisubmersibles are not easily moved.
For new exploration and the drilling and capping of new wells, drill ships are typically used. Drill ships have the drilling equipment installed directly on the deck, typically in the middle of the ship. The well is drilled through the “moon pool,” an opening in the center of the ship.
Working on any vessel or platform rig has within it certain risks. Owners and operators of rigs need to take steps to help protect their workers and provide safe working environments. In the event they are negligent and workers are injured, they can be held accountable under various maritime personal injury laws and acts.
If you are an oil rig worker, seaman, or vessel worker and have been injured while in the service of a vessel or ship, you could be entitled to monetary compensation. To find out more about your legal rights and if you have grounds for a personal injury law suit, contact the Jones Act lawyers at Maintenance and Cure today by calling 800-836-5830.