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Most Offshore Oil Rig Fires and Gas Explosions Are Preventable

Two of the biggest threats to oil rig workers are fires and gas explosions. Fires and gas explosions have occurred for a number of different reasons, including equipment malfunction, poor or incomplete maintenance, lack of employee training, negligence by the employer, and blowouts.

Offshore Oil Rig Fires and Gas Explosions

Stats and Facts About Past Explosions

In more recent years, the state-owned Mexican oil company, Pemex, has had ongoing accidents, fires, and explosions.

  • April 2016 – Explosion at Pemex’s Pajaritos petrochemical complex with 136 injuries and at least 13 deaths.1
  • April 2015 – Pemex’s Abkatun Permanente platform exploded and caught on fire. There were 16 people injured, 4 deaths, and 3 people who went missing after workers jumped into the ocean and are presumed dead.2
  • April 2015 – Two weeks after the explosion, Pemex was responsible for an oil spill from its pipeline after oil thieves damaged the pipeline. This accident resulted in oil flowing into three rivers near Villahermosa.2
  • May 2015 – A Pemex oil rig in the Bay of Campeche collapsed into the ocean, resulting in 2 deaths and at least 10 injuries.2
  • 2013 – 37 people died in an explosion at Pemex’s Mexico City headquarters.1
  • 2012 – 26 people died in a fire at one of Pemex’s natural gas facilities.1

Part of the problem with Pemex is, because they are a state-owned operation, there has been very little accountability by the Mexican government. In all of the accidents, it appears that improper maintenance, upkeep, and other substandard practices were contributing factors.

Here in the United States, one of our nation’s worst oil rig disasters was the Deepwater Horizon incident that occurred in April 2010. The explosion of the oil platform occurred when a blowout preventer device failed to automatically seal the well. Eleven people lost their lives from the explosion. The oil leak was the biggest oil spill in the United States on record.3

Upon review of the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, it was determined the accident could have been prevented. Had BP enforced a more functional safety culture, then, in all likelihood, the explosion could have been avoided.

Worst Oil Rig Disaster in History

The worst oil rig disaster in history is still the Piper Alpha disaster, which occurred in the North Sea in the United Kingdom in July 1988. During the explosion and resulting fire, of the 226 workers stationed on the rig, 167 died.4

The cause of the disaster was due to maintenance not being completed on a condensate-injection pump. The day crew failed to inform the evening crew the work was still not done. Due to this communication error, the pump was turned on, resulting in a major gas leak that caused numerous explosions on the oil rig.

Most of the oil rig explosions and fires over the past three decades were preventable with improved safety measures, better maintenance practices, and effective communications between employees.

If you or a loved one has been injured or were killed in an oil rig fire or explosion, please feel free to contact Maintenance and Cure at 1-800-836-5830 today. Our maritime accident attorneys have helped clients and families settle cases, including one of the largest, if not the largest, settlements under the Jones Act, for close to $18 million.

Sources

  1. http://www.newsweek.com/pemex-explosion-13-dead-petrochemical-veracruz-investigation-chlorinate-3-451024
  2. https://www.desmogblog.com/2015/05/26/pemex-deadly-offshore-explosions-and-major-pipeline-spills
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/20/deepwater-horizon-key-questions-answered
  4. http://www.offshore-technology.com/features/feature-the-worlds-deadliest-offshore-oil-rig-disasters-4149812/

What is DOHSA?

Anyone who has arrived on this website probably knows already that maritime employment is extremely hazardous. Offshore and maritime personnel are routinely exposed to a shockingly wide array of physical perils, ranging from harsh weather to employer negligence and, as a result, serious injury is far from uncommon in this line of work.

That’s why injured seamen have been provided by law with a number of remedies, such as the Jones Act, that enables them to obtain due compensation for the harm they experience in connection with their employment.

Tragically, some maritime accidents result in fatal injuries. In these cases, the focus of the law shifts to compensating the family of the deceased. The Jones Act provides a mechanism where family members can seek compensation for the death of a loved one killed while fulfilling their obligations as a maritime employee—but only if the incident occurred within U.S. territorial waters. What happens when such as incident happens out on the “high seas”—that is, in international waters? Fortunately, legal help is still available under these circumstances.

One of the most important laws on the books for helping bereaved family members obtain such recompense is the Death On the High Seas Act (DOHSA). What follows is a brief overview of DOHSA and its place in maritime law.

What Is DOHSA

How DOHSA Came into Being

There was a time when offshore employees and other persons harmed in maritime accidents had relatively little recourse when it came to pursuing justice in the courts. That began to change in the first decades of the 20th-century when a number of laws were passed to bolster the rights of persons seriously wounded through the negligence of another party while out at sea.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (commonly known as the Jones Act) is one such law; this legislation helps injured sailors make claims against a negligent employer. The Death on the High Seas Act—also enacted in 1920—is another such law.

The intent of DOHSA is to provide surviving family members with the legal tools to recover damages against a maritime employer responsible for the death of the seaman in question. DOHSA (46 U.S.C. app. §§ 761–768) officially became a federal statute when it was signed by President Wilson on March 30, 1920, and it has been enforced continually, with a few modifications, down to the present day.

The Scope of DOHSA

The Death On the High Seas Act applies to fatal incidents at sea occurring more than three nautical miles from U.S. waters (including territories). There is a valid cause of action under DOHSA if the seaman died due to an unseaworthy vessel or through other provable negligence on the part of the shipowner. The vessel in question must have been engaged in what could be recognized as a maritime activity. In addition to maritime employees, DOHSA also covers civilian passengers of a maritime vessel.

Incidentally, DOHSA also applies to personnel and passengers aboard commercial aircraft that crash in international waters (defined in these cases as more than twelve nautical miles from any U.S territory).

Some confusion persists regarding DOHSA’s applicability to accidents where the death of the seaman or passenger occurs after a significant passage of time following the precipitating accident.

Let’s consider a hypothetical situation: A seaman is severely harmed by an explosion on a maritime vessel on the high seas, then conveyed to a hospital on the mainland U.S., where he dies weeks later. What does DOHSA have to say? In a situation like this, DOHSA still applies. That’s because the courts have ruled that the determining factor is the site where the accident occurred, not the place of death.

DOHSA can even apply when the accident occurs outside the high seas. The courts have ruled that maritime incidents of this nature fall under DOHSA’s area of coverage so long as they occur outside the three-nautical-mile boundary. That means a maritime accident that takes place within another nation’s territorial waters still qualifies as a DOHSA case, so long it happens at sea more than three nautical miles from any U.S.-controlled territory.

Scope of DOHSA

Types of Compensation

Under DOHSA, the plaintiff in a wrongful death suit is entitled to recover damages based on “pecuniary loss“—that is, loss of income and support. They are generally not eligible to obtain recompense for pain and suffering or other non-economic factors. The idea is to compensate families for the loss of a member who could provide financial and domestic sustenance. This compensation typically takes into consideration funeral expenses and loss of future monetary support.

Who Qualifies for DOHSA Compensation?

Because DOHSA is primarily intended to compensate families for a loss of a parent, spouse, and/or caregiver, the law strictly defines who is entitled to recover damages in these cases.

Only these individuals are entitled to compensation under DOHSA:

• The spouse of the decedent
• The children of the decedent
• The parents of the decedent
• Other dependent relatives of the decedent

If the plaintiffs are successful in their DOHSA case, the court will determine the amount of compensation to which each family member is entitled, according to the degree of pecuniary loss they have sustained.

What Must Be Proven

To prevail in the DOHSA case, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate to the court one of the two following conditions:

  • The vessel in question was not seaworthy—that is, it suffered from significant mechanical defects or was otherwise incapable of contending with the perils that such vessels can be reasonably expected to encounter while at sea.
    Also, a shipping vessel that has been overloaded may be ruled to be unseaworthy. Other unseaworthy conditions can include an absence of safety equipment and an inadequate number of personnel on board. Please note that the presence of merely minor defects in the ship is unlikely to lead to a ruling of unseaworthiness.

OR

  • The owner of the vessel behaved negligently in connection with their responsibilities as a shipowner. Failure to provide personnel with adequate training and failure to abide by proper safety protocols are among the valid causes of action for a negligence claim.

Issue of Contributory Negligence

The Issue of Contributory Negligence

Like many maritime statues that govern personal injury matters, these cases hinge on the issue of contributory negligence. In other words, does the deceased party bear partial responsibility for the accident? If so, does this affect the amount of pecuniary damages that may be recovered? Under DOHSA, families can recover damages even if it is shown that the decedent’s negligence contributed to the fatal incident. However, it is also true that the amount of the awarded damages may be reduced in proportion to the negligent actions (or inactions) of the decedent.

Statute of Limitations

For family members of a deceased seaman, it is imperative to act quickly when filing a DOHSA case. The law gives plaintiffs only three years to file a suit, and the clock starts ticking on the day when the incident in question occurred.

Under the Death On the High Seas Act, claims can be brought before the court only by a personal representative of the family members who seek to obtain recompense for the death of the decedent. That’s one reason why is it essential for persons with a DOHSA-qualified case to waste no time in hiring the services of an experienced maritime personal injury attorney who understands the ins and outs of this potentially confusing law.

We will fight for you in the courts and help you obtain the settlement that you justly deserve. Please contact us at 1-800-836-5830 and ask for a free case evaluation. Calls are answered 24/7.

Is Maritime Piracy Still a Thing?

For centuries, pirates have been a cultural institution of sorts, glamorized in classic literature (Treasure Island), the cinema (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and various other productions of Western society.

The origins of piracy reach back literally thousands of years, yet the iconic image of the pirate—complete with eye patch and heavy jewelry—stems from the classic period of piracy, roughly the 17th to 19th centuries, when these hardy adventurers wreaked havoc along the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean.

It took a concerted effort from European powers, including legislation such as the General Maritime Treaty of 1820, to put an effective end to pirate activity, at least as it was understood at the time.

Pirates did not go away for good, however. In fact, they constitute a serious threat that plagues the contemporary maritime industry, resistant to coordinated attempts to eliminate them. It’s not difficult to understand the persistence of this sort of criminal activity.

Piracy, like all crimes motivated by a desire for financial gain, is always a possibility wherever valuable goods can be seized. This is certainly true on the high seas, where substantial revenue is there for the taking in the form of cargo and even hostages.

Maritime piracy is far from an insignificant phenomenon in the modern era, and its reach is more widespread than most people suspect. Let’s take a closer look at this problem.

Maritime Piracy Still a Thing

Where Piracy Happens

Piracy in the modern era is not restricted to any geographic region. In fact, the locus of piracy continues to shift as economic conditions and anti-piracy activities make their influence felt.

Somalia – For many casual observers, modern piracy is strongly associated with this beleaguered African country—and for good reason. In 2009 alone, there were no fewer than 51 incidents off the coast of Somalia.1 This made Somalia virtually synonymous with piracy, but it has to be said that this isn’t an altogether fair assessment.

In recent years, the incidence of Somali piracy has dropped precipitously, to the point where this country no longer holds the distinction of being the world’s hotspot for this type of criminal activity. Even so, Somali piracy is still a phenomenon that must be contended with.

Indonesia – The world’s largest island country, Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia that encompasses over 17,000 islands. It is also notorious for a very high rate of pirate activity, much of which occurs in the Strait of Malacca (pictured below), an extremely busy shipping route used to transport a vast amount of merchandise from Japan and China.

All that valuable cargo passing through the strait has proven to be an irresistible target for pirates. The year 2003 saw a staggering 121 hijackings of commercial vessels in this region—over 20 percent of the global total.2 Since then, piracy has declined dramatically, but it remains a major problem in Indonesian waters.

Bangladesh – Widespread poverty and an understaffed national coast guard have left the nation of Bangladesh vulnerable to pirates, who have eagerly exploited local conditions for their own profit. Piracy attacks, mostly dealing with kidnapping fishermen for ransom, has taken its toll on the national economy, which is heavily dependent on its fishing industry.

The good news is that Bangladesh has taken steps in recent years to quell this problem. Its participation in the U.S.-led Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises is considered largely responsible for reducing—though not eliminating—the threat of piracy in the Bay of Bengal.3

Nigeria – In West Africa, over seventy percent of all maritime piracy can be traced to Nigeria.4 The Gulf of Guinea is the local playground for regional pirates, whose activities are mainly devoted to capturing valuable cargo, often oil, rather than taking hostages.

These are not the only areas where piracy happens—Peru and the Ivory Coast have also encountered pirates, to name a few other examples—but they are the primary locales. As we shall soon see, maritime piracy is more than just a nuisance—it’s a wide-ranging social problem that gobbles up huge amounts of resources.

Piracy Is Harmful

Why Piracy Is Harmful

Piracy causes major harm to society. The organization Oceans Beyond Piracy calculated the global cost of piracy for the year 2011 at $6.6 to $6.9 billion.5 The damage wrought by piracy takes a variety of forms, including but not limited to the following:

Fatalities – Many pirates operate by taking hostages and holding them for ransom. It’s a tactic that has proven quite profitable—but it can also lead to tragedy. Some encounters between commercial vessels and pirates devolve into violence. In Southeast Asia, 136 people were killed at the hands of pirates over the years 1995 to 2013.6 A far greater number of innocents have suffered serious injury during pirate attacks.

Costlier Shipping Practices – One tactic for keeping away from pirates is to ship materials at very fast speeds across the water. That’s what a lot of shipping companies have resorted to in an effort to reduce the risk of encountering unfriendly ships.

Unfortunately, this practice substantially increases the expenses involved in maritime transportation. Another tactic that shipping vessels sometimes use is to follow an indirect route to their destination—which, of course, takes longer and costs more money.

Increased Insurance Rates – The likelihood of stolen cargo means that shipping valuable goods is more risky than it would be under normal conditions. This also means that insurance rates must be raised to compensate for the increased risk.

Higher Security Expenses – There was a time when it was considered unnecessary for shipping vessels to employ armed guards and utilize anti-piracy equipment. That time is in the past, however. The price of maintaining adequate security is another expense that shipping companies must bear.

Damage to Local Economies – As we have mentioned, piracy in Bangladesh has caused serious injury to the nation’s fishing sector—and this is only one example of a country-wide economic devastation that can be attributed to these maritime interlopers.

Drain on Limited Military Resources – Many impoverished nations struggle to mobilize the kind of military response needed to discourage piracy.

There are a variety of laws on the national and international level aimed at prosecuting pirates and reducing the incidence of these types of crimes.

State of Piracy Law

The State of Piracy Law

Piracy that takes place within the territorial waters of a nation can be prosecuted by that nation. In the U.S., the crime of maritime piracy falls under 18 U.S.C. § 1651, which states, “Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life.”

However, what happens when piracy occurs out on international waters? In this case, international law takes over—specifically, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This international agreement stipulates that “all States shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.”

In practice, there has been some confusion as to which country should take on the responsibility of prosecuting pirates captured out on the high seas. When the United States has assumed this role, it has often imposed very harsh penalties, in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 1651.

If you or a loved one has been injured during the commission of a pirate attack, it is important to understand that there is legal recourse available. Under the Jones Act, victims of pirate assaults may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., for a free consultation.

Sources

  1. http://www.thenational.ae/uae/ships-warned-that-piracy-still-exists-1.255638
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/01/27/pirates/index.html
  3. http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2014/09/30/bangladesh-cuts-70-piracy-at-bay-of-bengal-with-us-support
  4. http://africanarguments.org/2014/12/10/piracy-in-nigeria-just-getting-going-by-ioannis-mantzikos/
  5. http://qz.com/664036/piracy-on-the-high-seas-is-on-the-decline-and-so-is-the-anti-piracy-industry/
  6. http://time.com/piracy-southeast-asia-malacca-strait/

Assessing the Jones Act: The Rights Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know

Workplace safety is never more important than when you work at sea. From drowning to falling to slipping on the deck, maritime employees face a variety of serious threats on a daily basis, which employers are responsible for protecting them from. The Jones Act establishes your rights as a seaman, allowing you to hold accountable any employer who does not adequately protect your safety.

Assessing the Jones Act

Background & Basics

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act, is a Federal law designed to protect and maintain the United States merchant marine system. Though the law covers a wide range of maritime topics, it is notable for its provisions on maritime worker safety. The act enshrines the rights of seamen to bring legal charges against their employers if the latter’s negligence causes them serious injury. If you can prove that your employer violated the Jones Act, you are entitled to compensation for the costs of your injury, which include:

  • The price of medical care, including treatments for the long-term effects of the injury
  • Lost wages that you were unable to earn because you were undergoing medical treatment, or because of disability that resulted from your injury
  • Pain and psychological suffering that result from your injury, as well as the cost of counseling
  • Loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment, and other effects that impact your quality of life

The Jones Act law establishes a significantly lower burden of proof for compensation than most other personal injury cases have. Whereas most cases require the plaintiff to prove that their employer was the primary cause of the harm, the Jones Act requires you to show only that they played a role in the injury. This makes it clear that it is the responsibility of maritime employers to safeguard the rights of their workers in all circumstances, no small matter in an industry with so many risks.

Jones Act Jurisdiction

For the Jones Act to apply to you, you must fit the following characteristics:

  • Vessel Validation– You must have been part of the crew of a commercial vessel at the time of your injury. A wide range of ships and boats qualify, including tankers, fishing vessels, casino boats, tug and tow boats, restaurant ships, barges, and freighters. It does not matter whether the boat was moored or in motion at the time you were injured.
  • Seaman Status– You must qualify as a seaman for the Jones Act to apply. The Supreme Court has defined this as anyone who spends at least 30 percent of their working hours serving a vessel that is in navigation. You may also qualify if your work is covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. If there is any doubt, consult a Jones Act attorney for help determining whether you are a seaman.
  • Location Limitations– You must have been on board the boat at the time that you contracted the injury. The law does not apply if you were on a nearby dock, even if you qualify as a seaman. You also must have been on the boat primarily so that you could aid in its mission.
  • Navigable Nuances– The injury must have occurred while the boat was on a body of water that is considered navigable. Oceans, gulfs, large lakes, and large rivers usually qualify, but as with seaman status, you should check with an attorney before filing. If the water is not navigable, your case will have to be filed under land-based laws instead.

To benefit from the Jones Act law, you must file your claim no more than three years after the injury occurred. It is thus important to begin the filing process as soon as possible in case there are delays. You can file the claim in a state court as an admiralty claim, or in a Federal court as either an admiralty or a law claim. Where and how you file may impact the amount of compensation you get, so make sure to discuss the case with your attorney before you decide.

Jones Act claims

Valid Violations

There is a myriad of things that can go wrong on the ocean, and thus a myriad of ways that your employer can fail to keep you safe. You can file Jones Act claims for injuries resulting from:

  • Sub-par Safety– Your employer must provide a safe environment for you to work in. This means cleaning up spills, cordoning off slippery or damaged walkways, keeping all sections of the hull in good condition, and providing training so that you know how to do your job competently. They must also distribute appropriate safety devices to employees who are performing especially dangerous jobs. Overlooking any of these duties can cause serious injury or death.
  • Damaged Devices– To do your job safely, you must have equipment that is up to date and in proper working order. This means that the employer must regularly inspect all equipment, repair or replace devices that are not working correctly, and inform all members of the crew not to use equipment that is damaged.
  • Crew Chaos– The employer is responsible for the actions of all other members of the crew. Thus, if another crew member assaults you or causes you to be injured through negligence, the employer must be held accountable for failing to keep them in line. The employer may also be at fault for failing to assemble a competent crew if your injury is the result of another seaman’s poor judgment.
  • Reticent Rescue– If you jump or fall off of the ship, the employer is responsible for making every effort to rescue you. Failing to respond quickly enough or to devote the appropriate resources is grounds for a lawsuit.
  • Medical Matters– If you become sick or injured on the ship, the employer must provide you with the proper medical care. Failing to provide the right care may lead to much more serious medical problems down the road, for which the employer will be responsible.

Understanding the scope of violations is one of the most important ways you can gain the upper hand over your employer in Jones Act claims. Many employers assume that if another employee assaults you or neglects your safety, for example, it is that employee’s fault, and any compensation you might win must come from them. Likewise, if equipment does not work properly, the employer might expect you to blame the manufacturer. The last thing they want you to realize is that they are responsible for everything that happens on the ship.

Your employer may also expect you to think that if you assume the risks before the injury happens, you cannot hold them accountable. But the fact that you were aware of the danger does not absolve them of their responsibility to maintain a safe ship. The Jones Act law makes it clear that they are responsible for all of the results of their negligence, not only those for which you were unaware of the risks.

Savvy Steps

As with any personal injury case, the quicker and more decisively you act, the more likely your Jones Act claims are to succeed. If you were injured while working on a commercial vessel, make sure to take the following steps:

  1. Pursue Proof– As soon as you are in a stable condition, gather as much evidence as you can. Take pictures of the accident site, and gather the names and contact information of nearby coworkers, employees, and any other witnesses. If your injuries are too severe for you to do this yourself, ask a trusted co-worker to do it for you.
  2. Commit To Care– Seek out medical treatment as soon as possible, and follow the instructions of your care providers to the letter. Try to keep a record of all the treatments that you receive, and ask your care providers for their names and contact information. This will allow you to refute any accusations that your injuries would not have been as severe if you had not neglected your own care.
  3. Locate A Lawyer– Consult a qualified Jones Act attorney as soon as possible. Ask them if you qualify for compensation under the Jones Act, and answer any questions they ask you as honestly and comprehensively as you can. If they determine that you qualify, file your claim as soon as possible according to their instructions.
  4. Consider The Costs– Keep detailed records of all the expenses that result from your injury. Make sure to obtain and store receipts for any bills that you pay out of your own pocket, as it will otherwise be difficult to prove that you paid them. Also, keep a record of indirect expenses, such as days of work you have to miss due to treatment or disability.
  5. Speak Sparingly– Try to avoid talking to your employer or their lawyers about the case when your attorney is not present. If you do have to talk to them, avoid signing anything or sharing key details of the case. The more information you give them, the greater the chance that they will find a way to counter your claim.
  6. Record The Results– Keep a daily log of all your experiences after the accident. Write down anything that may result from your injuries, including pain, mental anguish, and trouble sleeping. The more detailed your record, the easier it will be to identify subtle effects of the injury for which you deserve to be compensated.

Holding your employer accountable under the Jones Act is not just about getting compensation for yourself, though that would be reason enough. It’s also about protecting your fellow seamen. If an employer pays no price for neglecting your safety, they have no reason to show any more care in the future. Demanding compensation sends a powerful message that seamen’s rights cannot be ignored. The more that employers are held accountable for their past negligence, the more they will care for employees in the future, ensuring a safe maritime working environment.

No maritime employer should get away with putting their workers at risk. For more information about your rights under the Jones Act, contact Maintenance and Cure at {email}, call {phone}, or  visit our website today.

http://maintenanceandcure.com/jones-act-lawyers/; http://maintenanceandcure.com/maintenance-and-cure/; http://maintenanceandcure.com/contact-us/;; http://www.jonesactlaw.com/library/you-have-more-rights-after-a-boat-accident-under-maritime-law-than-your-employer-wants-you-to-know-part-a/; http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/overview-the-jones-act-seamens-injuries.html; https://www.ohiobar.org/ForPublic/Resources/LawYouCanUse/Pages/LawYouCanUse-690.aspx; http://www.saltwaterlaw.com/Maritime-Injury-Death-Claims/Crewmember-Injuries.aspx; https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/515/347/case.html; https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/46/30104; https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/515/347/case.html; http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/damages-how-much-personal-injury-32264.html; http://www.jonesactlaw.com/library/how-to-figure-out-if-you-have-a-jones-act-or-maritime-case/; http://www.maritimelawfirms.com/resources/maritime/maritime-injury-claims/jones-act-case.htm; http://www.theledger.com/news/20090410/life-of-a-merchant-marine-filled-with-work-danger; http://maintenanceandcure.com/negligence-jones-act/; http://maintenanceandcure.com/the-dangers-of-falling-moving-objects-on-ships-and-vessels/;

Getting Familiar with the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers have the right to compensation. That wasn’t always true.

Once upon a time, if a maritime worker suffered an accident on the job and sustained an injury, they were out of luck. The law provided no means of redress, even if their employer proved negligent.

Over the past century, maritime workers have secured hard-earned legal rights. Now the Jones Act shields them from employer negligence, unsafe working conditions, and accidental injury.

In addition to safeguarding workers, the Jones Act also establishes protectionist measures that help keep U.S. waterways safe and the U.S. shipping industry afloat.

If you work on a U.S. vessel that navigates U.S. waters, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the history and provisions of the Jones Act. Whether or not you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, you should know a bit about the law that governs the American maritime industry.

Take a look at our infographic to learn more.

What is The Jones Act?

Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury Claim

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or LHWCA, provides compensation to a select group of maritime workers in the event of disability, illness, injury or death if it happens on the job in applicable locations. LHWCA compensation may cover full or partial medical costs, living expenses and the costs associated with rehabilitation and occupational retraining. This compensation is referred to as the costs of maintenance and cure.

While LHWCA compensation is encompassing and beneficial to those needing to use it, the terms and stipulations are somewhat lengthy. If you’ve received an injury, contracted a disease or have been otherwise compromised while performing your regular maritime work duties, and you need to file a claim, contact an experienced longshoremen injury attorney to help guide you through the process.

Your longshoremen attorney will know whether you’re covered under the LHWCA, what type of benefits to which you’re entitled, and how to go about starting your claim. He or she will also partner with you throughout the process to give you a better understanding of what to expect.

What Is the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act?

The LHWCA was drafted in 1927 to help protect workers who sailed in navigational waters. Criteria was more specific when the Act was first introduced. It has since been expanded to include a wider range of workers such as those who work on-shore in harbors and on docks, performing maintenance, construction and other maritime duties. Most maritime employers are required by federal law to offer insurance to workers under the LHWCA. Compensation is managed by the U.S. Department of Labor through the Office of Workers’ Compensation.

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury ClaimIf you’re a worker who is injured or becomes ill as a result of performing your job duties in a maritime setting, you may be eligible to collect monetary benefits via the LHWCA, toward disability, maintenance and cure until you’re healed and able to return to your previous job, or, in the event of a permanent disability, until you’re trained and able to work a new job somewhere else. In the event of your death from your work-related injury or illness, LHWCA may be able to pay benefits to your dependent family members.

Who Is Covered Under the LHWCA?

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers maritime workers who fit certain criteria:

  • They perform such work as loading or off-loading ships in a port or harbor as well as building or deconstructing boats, docks or other harbor constructions. The Act also covers certain workers employed by private contractors in the defense base industry and those engaged in scientific exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands, such as workers employed on oil rigs.
  • Covered employees must have received their injury in the navigable waters of the United States or in or on their adjoining ports, harbors, wharves, etc. Navigable Waters of the United Statesis defined as any water subject to tidal control and that’s used for interstate or international commerce.
  • Employees who fit these two categories must have received an injury or contracted a debilitating illness while performing their required job functions.

How Is the LHWCA Different from the Jones Act?

The Jones Act is more encompassing, including such maritime workers as the captain and crew of cruise ships, fishing boats, crabbing boats and more. An employee can receive compensation based upon either the Jones Act or the LHWCA, whichever more adequately covers their particular occupation, but never both.

Define Compensation

Define “Compensation”

Compensation is the money you require to either be cured or to return to life with a disability. In the event of death, it’s a stipend paid to your family to help alleviate the monetary cost of your loss of earnings. Your personal injury attorney can help you decide which benefits you’re entitled to receive. These may include:

  • Full or partial medical expenses
  • The costs associated with rehabilitation, such as learning how to live with an amputation or hearing loss
  • Compensation to cover lost wages while you’re in recovery
  • Compensation to cover the costs of training you to perform a different job should your injury prevent you from returning to your previous one
  • A scheduled monetary reward for the loss of use of certain body parts
  • A disfigurement and death benefit

Basically, the Act helps protect you and your loved ones if you should receive a traumatic or life-altering injury while on the job.

What Types of Injuries Are Covered?

In this instance, injury refers to any type of way you could be hurt while performing your regular maritime duties, including:

  • Occupational Disease: An occupational disease is defined as one that is caused by exposure to harmful substances or chemicals. Mesothelioma is an occupational disease that many workers have contracted due to exposure to asbestos. Other occupational diseases include breathing disorders such as COPD or asthma, autoimmune diseases such as Graves’ Disease, and various skin disorders. All may be caused by exposure to workplace toxins, and all may make it difficult to return to work in your normal capacity.
  • Loss of Vision or Hearing: Exposure to loud noises or intense light can contribute to loss of vision or hearing in some people.
  • Injuries received during the performance of regular maritime duties, such as electrical shocks, burns, falls, contact with equipment, hypothermia, hyperthermia, head injury, drowning, broken bones or amputation.

How Do I File a Claim?

File a Claim

There are rules you must follow to file a claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act:

  • You must notify your employer of your injury within 30 days of receiving it.
  • You have one year to file a formal claim.

If you need to file a claim for compensation under the LHWCA, your first step is to narrow down your choices of longshoremen attorneys. At Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris, we have a long, successful history of working to resolve cases involving maritime injury. You may need something so simple as a phone call to your employer from a member of our knowledgeable staff for payments to commence. Then again, you may need actual representation in court. Regardless, we’re there for you. Call us today at 1-800-836-5830 to schedule an initial consultation. We’ll help you determine whether you have a valid claim, and then we’ll help you file for and collect compensation.

A case involving compensation for maritime injuries can be complicated. That’s why you need the services of professionals on your side to help you collect the funds to which you’re entitled.

How Long Does It Take for Payments to Begin?

The good news is that payments can begin in as little as 14 days after you notify your employer of your injury. This typically happens when the employer chooses not to dispute the legitimacy of the claim. Having a good maritime injury lawyer on your side can help set the wheels in motion so you can claim benefits faster.

Often, however, collecting on a maritime injury claim may take longer. If your employer controverts your claim by saying he had no knowledge of your injury, for instance, or if it’s not immediately clear whether your injury meets the requirements needed, your payments could be delayed until a ruling is made.

What’s My Role in Justifying My Claim?

If you notified your employer of your injury within the allotted time and filed your claim before the deadline, you’ve fulfilled your role in activating your claim. You may be required to tell your story again and to give the names of possible witnesses who can help substantiate your recollection, but that’s where your responsibility ends and your attorney’s responsibilities begin. We’ll make sure your employer abides by federal law in determining whether you receive benefits and how much your payout will be. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act is very clear regarding who does and who does not qualify for compensation. If you meet the criteria, we’ll help you procure the money you need to pay your medical and injury-related expenses. And, in the event of your injury-related death or illness, we’ll see that your family receives benefits as well.

All longshoremen lawyers are not created equal.  Claims to collect compensation from the LHWCA are very specific, and they require the services of experienced attorneys to navigate them efficiently so your payments are not delayed. You can trust the law offices of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris to collect the facts needed and to get the wheels rolling on your personal injury claim. We understand how devastating a workplace injury can be, how impactful it can be on the families of those injured. You need fair and just compensation, and you need it in a timely fashion. That’s what we’ll do for you. Call us today at 1 (800) 836-5830 to discuss your options.

Source

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/33/329.4

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/united-states-longshore-and-harbor-workers-compensation-act-of-1927.asp

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/autoimmune-diseases

http://maintenanceandcure.com/maintenance-and-cure/

https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/lhwca.htm#910

A Maritime Worker’s Rights and the LHWCA

The LHWCA (Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act) is the lifeline of many maritime workers injured on the job. Most injured individuals will find they fit the LHWCA requirements, although qualifications for coverage are strict. The protections and policy ins-and-outs of the act mean the injured worker needs to do a little digging to get the information. However, the longshoremen lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer, & Harris, L.L.P., know where to look. To save you time, we’ve assembled a complete breakdown of the LHWCA and how it affects you.

How Does the LHWCA Work?

The LHWCA is a federal law and as such it provides protection for employees injured and permanently or temporarily disabled as a result. To qualify, the injury must have happened in specific occupations and locations defined in the LHWCA. The protections extended to the injured employee include medical treatment and compensation of a percentage of regular pay. There is even compensation for job retraining—or vocational rehabilitation—should the resulting disability preclude the individual from returning to his or her original occupation. For those killed on the job, a death benefit is available to the spouse or other specified beneficiaries. To get these protections, the injury must occur on navigable waters or in locations adjacent to these waters. Adjacent locations would include docks, loading and unloading, shipbuilding, and ship repairing areas.

A Maritime Worker's Rights and the LHWCA

Who’s Covered Under the LHWCA? Who’s Not?

Many maritime workers are under the protection of the LHWCA. These include such occupations as longshore workers and harbor workers, such as shipbuilders, ship repairers, and ship-breakers. Excluded under the act are United States government employees, individuals who caused their injuries through intoxication, and those who caused their injuries through deeds of purposeful self-harm. Interestingly, also excluded are seamen, both shipmasters and crew members, who are covered under a different provision, i.e. the Jones Act or Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

When state workers’ compensation is a viable alternative, the LHWCA also excludes a number of other occupations. These include those workers who perform administrative assistant tasks, the duties associated with a camp, club, or recreational facility, and those working in restaurants and retail establishments and the like.

What the LHWCA Covers, In Detail

  • Medical: The LHWCA covers the costs of all services performed by those in the medical profession as a result of the injury. Your medical care, surgery, hospital stay, and accompanying supplies are most of what the act covers. Another benefit is the payment of travel costs and mileage associated with the treatment of the injury.
  • Compensation of Pay: Not only are your medical needs covered but the LHWCA also gives you some percentage of original pay or salary. The act judges between the national average of weekly pay and your own weekly average. The numbers work out to your receiving no more than either your full average weekly pay or twice the national average of weekly pay. You will receive the lesser of the two. These averages are each taken from the time of your injury.
  • Disability: The LHWCA demarcates between four types of disability. Here is a quick breakdown of the pay you can expect under each of them.
  • Temporary and Permanent Total Disability:The injured will receive a total of 2/3 of his or her weekly average pay. The amount changes every year. It’s based on different iterations of the weekly national average pay. Temporary disability is subject to the current national weekly average applied to the time period of your injury. Permanent disability rates come from the previous year’s national weekly average pay.
  • Temporary and Permanent Partial Disability:The compensation for a temporary partial disability is also 2/3 of the weekly average pay. It is slightly more complicated for those with a permanent partial disability. The LHWCA provides a listing of temporary disabilities and the number of weeks the injured individual will receive the 2/3 average pay.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation: If you can’t return to work, the LHWCA provides for vocational rehabilitation, which is basically job retraining. You can get evaluated and tested, counseled and placed, and even possibly return to school. In fact, if schooling is your selected option, the act may pay for tuition, books, and other necessary supplies. There is also the possibility of a maintenance allowance of no more than $25 per week.
  • Death Benefit: If the employee is deceased because of an injury under the LHWCA, the surviving spouse is due 50% of his or her average weekly pay. This payment will last for the life of the spouse or until remarriage. If the deceased and spouse have children, the spouse is also due 16-and-2/3% for each child on top of the 50% payment. Surviving children, if no surviving spouse, get 50% of the average weekly wage for the first child and 66-and-2/3% for all other children. This sum is shared among the surviving children. Other surviving beneficiaries can include any grandparents, parents, siblings, or grandchildren that are dependent upon the deceased employee’s income.

Maintenance and Cure

Are you a longshore, harbor, shipbuilder, or ship repairer who’s affected by a work-related injury? It may fall under the LHWCA. If your injury has left you with few options and little hope, we would like to help you resolve your situation. We’ve solved many cases identical or similar to your own. Please feel free to drop us a line at 1 (800) 836-5830, so we can help you get your life back.

Source

https://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/elg/longshor.htm

https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/FAQ/lsfaqs.htm

https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/LS-560pam.htm

Looking Back at The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Although it’s been seven years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the environmental and human devastation may linger for generations. On April 20, 2010, the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico faltered, exploded and burned into the sea off the coast of Louisiana, dumping nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil. It topped a heartbreaking history of missteps that made tragedies such as the Exxon Valdez oil tanker pale in comparison. For families who lost loved ones and those whose health was damaged, it’s important to enlist the help of an experienced Jones Act attorney.

Deepwater Disaster

The offshore drilling rig was owned by Transocean and leased by BP oil. A natural gas explosion compromised the core and shot up into the platform causing a massive burn. Significant oil leakage didn’t actually occur for two days. Fully engulfed in fire, the rig finally collapsed on April 22 and that ruptured a riser used to discharge underground mud, opening the crude floodgates.

Looking Back at The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

An estimated 60,000 barrels per day contaminated the Gulf of Mexico until it was finally capped in mid-July. It was like watching a horrific car wreck, 24 hours a day for nearly three months. Unfortunately, capping the well was only the first step in halting a calamity that continues to do harm to this very day.

Environmental Damage

While ships and cleanup technologies were brought to bear as quickly as possible, the uncaptured oil created a visible slick stretching over a thousand square miles. And, more than 1,000 miles of coastline suffered tremendous pollution. As oil and tar balls hit the shore, beaches, marshes and brackish waterways had to be cleaned manually as birds, fish, shellfish and plant life withered and died. The harm caused by crude that settled on the ocean floor may never be completely quantified. But what may have done an equal amount of injury were the methods used to “clean up” the spill.

Efforts to corral and siphon the massive oil slick were only modestly effective in handling the spread. Much of it was set ablaze and huge plumes of black smoke rose into the air, damaging the lungs of emergency workers and seamen. Compounding the noxious burns was the fact that dispersants were dropped on uncontained slicks. At the time, the theory was that these substances would help break down the oil so that naturally occurring bacteria could metabolize it. Sadly, that strategy added to a wealth of human suffering over the long haul.

Impact on Seamen

It’s impossible to place a monetary value on the damage to your health or the loss of a loved one. Families such as the 11 brave workers killed during the Deepwater Horizon explosion and other offshore accidents are eligible to seek damages under the Jones Act. The 17 who suffered a debilitating offshore injury can seek compensation through what longshoremen lawyers more specifically call “Jones Act maintenance and cure.” That basically means forcing the insurance company to pay lost wages and medical bills to people like the injured crew of Deepwater Horizon. Over the years, BP oil and others have been — to some degree — held accountable and have been required to put more than $7.8 billion into settlement resources for people harmed by the calamity. Tragically, the oil burns and chemicals also inflicted harm on the men and women who worked tirelessly to protect the environment and people living along the coastline.

Civilian Impact

The decision to use Corexit as a dispersant may have created an unforeseen harm to the coastal population. According to the Center for Disease Control, Corexit can cause chemically-induced pneumonitis, skin and nervous system problems that include depression, vomiting, brain impairment, as well as liver and kidney damage. People living along the Gulf coast have experienced high rates of these and other health problems potentially linked to the 1.8 million gallons of the dangerous chemical. The Corexit cleanup tactic was basically a carpet bombing of the waters that families and their children swim in and the air they breathe every day. The move to cure the oil slicks can only be likened to the effect spraying Agent Orange on American soldiers had during the Vietnam War.

For many people, the Deepwater Horizon incident is not an environmental disaster that was cleaned up seven years ago. The harm done to the health and wellbeing of seamen and the civilian population may linger for lifetimes in some cases. If you or a loved one has suffered due to the Deepwater Horizon incident or the pollutants used in the cleanup, call us for a consultation.

Source

6 Reasons You Should Be Talking About Oil Rigs

The importance of oil rigs, oil production and oil prices in 2017 can’t be overstated. Oil has a profound effect on the world economy and the American economy. It also affects the lives of people all over the world. Spikes in oil production can spur jobs and convert economies of developing nations into first world economies. On the other hand, production from oil rigs can harm the environment. An overlooked issue, perhaps, is that oil rigs can also be dangerous.

Talking About Oil Rigs

Offshore accidents, of course, are in the news from time to time. The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill demonstrated that. To refresh your memory, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded, with catastrophic results. Almost five million barrels of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people on the oil drilling crew died. Many others were injured and needed the help of a personal injury attorney or an offshore injury attorney to repair their lives. In addition, the spill destroyed many marine and wildlife habitats and damaged the area’s water, air and beaches.

The possibility of accidents is one reason that people should be talking about oil rigs. Here are six others:

1. The American Economy:

Oil production in the United States has doubled in recent years. When oil production doubles, the number of oil rigs also approximately doubles. A chart in the article “US Oil Rig Count Surges to Highest Since First Week of January” shows an incredible correlation between oil rigs and oil production. When the number of rigs in the U.S. increases, gas prices at U.S. pumps fall. This is great news for Americans who now have more money to spend on other goods and services. This also helps American companies producing those goods and services.

2. The World Economy:

Good news for Americans might be bad news for other nations. The Huffington Post article “Why Oil Stocks Will Be the Best Investment in 2016” reports that excess oil production has harmed the economies of other oil-producing nations. Companies in Algeria, Canada, Iraq, Nigeria, Russia and Saudi Arabia have had to cut their prices because demand is so high. Consequently, their profits have dropped. This has spurred the closure of 65 percent of foreign nations’ oil rigs.

3. The Trump Administration:

Increasing the number of jobs in the United States was a key platform in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Although many economics experts dispute that building oil pipelines will produce a lot of jobs, President Trump has reversed Obama Administration decisions on two pipelines: The drilling rigs at the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines — the kinds of rigs needed for on-land oil drilling — are now active.

4. The Environment:

Oil rigs are also an ongoing issue because many people believe that oil production harms the environment. Fear about oil’s impact on the environment was a factor in the Obama Administration’s decisions on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Environmentalists were also enraged that the Obama Administration approved opening up areas adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean for offshore oil drilling. The oil platforms — the kinds of rigs needed for offshore oil drilling — have had problems in the past with safety. The BP case was an example of that.

5. Salaries:

Working on an oil rig can be very lucrative. An engineer with no experience — a trainee — can earn $60,000 per year plus an additional $90 per day working on an oil rig. That is what Vice Magazine reports in the article “What It’s Like Working on an Offshore Oil Rig as a Woman.” People who are promoted get raises of $7,500 per year. In addition, directional driller salaries are “ridiculous,” the article reports. What’s “ridiculous”? How about $220,000 per year? In an era of dramatic income inequality — when salaries in numerous professions are way down — people should be talking about the salaries of oil rig workers.

6. Working Conditions:

Why can’t all news about jobs be good news? That’s not the real world. While salaries are good — often great — on an oil rig, working conditions are often difficult. The bad news is that workers can be told to work for more than 24 consecutive hours, according to the Vice article. That’s a formula for accidents. In addition, many people work night shifts. Others work every day for a month. Working like a dog also crimps workers’ personal lives. The bottom line is that turnover at rigs is very high. “They just work you until you’re broken and then you’re done,” said one worker.

Working on an oil rig is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. The risks are numerous. Explosions. Falling. Dangerous machinery. Dangerous chemicals. Isolation. Fatigue. Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P is so concerned about the dangers that it has established the Maintenance and Cure team at its law firm to help people who have suffered because of the risks of oil rig work.

The law firm has local maritime lawyers and offshore lawyers who are experts in maritime law. Our attorneys understand the Jones Act and many other laws that oil companies often violate. Our expertise in maritime law has helped more than a number of oil rig workers. Many workers have won more than $1 million in court cases and settlements.

If you are an oil rig worker who is concerned with conditions at your workplace and/or has been injured because of bad workplace conditions, please phone Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P at 1-800-836-5830. Calling us could be the best investment you ever made.

Source

  • http://fortune.com/2016/08/30/stock-market-worries/
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gobankingrates/why-oil-stocks-will-be-th_b_9532562.html
  • https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/whats-life-like-as-a-young-woman-working-on-an-oil-rig
  • http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-23/us-oil-rig-count-surges-highest-first-week-january
  • http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/10-reasons-why-bp-got-off-and-offshore-oil-drilling-just-got-more-dangerous-20150312
  • http://maintenanceandcure.com/maintenance-and-cure/
  • http://maintenanceandcure.com/oil-rig-explosion-attorneys/
  • http://maintenanceandcure.com/
  • http://maintenanceandcure.com/oil-rig-workers-high-risk-injury/

The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act

If you are a maritime worker, it is important that you are informed about the Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that covers maritime employees who have sustained work-related injuries. If you have sustained work-related maritime injuries on the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining areas, you may be entitled to compensation.

The LHWCA allows employees to seek compensation, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation services if required. It covers longshoreman, harbor workers, shipbuilders, and more. Don’t get the LHWCA confused with the Jones Act, which covers seamen. The LHWCA covers maritime-specific work.

Take a look at the graphic below to learn more about The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act and be sure to contact your maritime injury attorney. They know the ins and outs of the LHWCA and can assist you in getting the compensation you deserve!

The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act

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Archive of Category: General

Most Offshore Oil Rig Fires and Gas Explosions Are Preventable

Two of the biggest threats to oil rig workers are fires and gas explosions. Fires and gas explosions have occurred for a number of different reasons, including equipment malfunction, poor or incomplete maintenance, lack of employee training, negligence by the employer, and blowouts.

Posted in General, Jones Act

What is DOHSA?

Anyone who has arrived on this website probably knows already that maritime employment is extremely hazardous. Offshore and maritime personnel are routinely exposed to a shockingly wide array of physical perils, ranging from harsh weather to employer negligence and, as a result, serious injury is far from uncommon in this line of work.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

Is Maritime Piracy Still a Thing?

For centuries, pirates have been a cultural institution of sorts, glamorized in classic literature (Treasure Island), the cinema (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and various other productions of Western society.

Assessing the Jones Act: The Rights Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know

Workplace safety is never more important than when you work at sea. From drowning to falling to slipping on the deck, maritime employees face a variety of serious threats on a daily basis, which employers are responsible for protecting them from. The Jones Act establishes your rights as a seaman, allowing you to hold accountable any employer who does not adequately protect your safety.

Posted in General, Jones Act

Getting Familiar with the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers have the right to compensation. That wasn’t always true.

Once upon a time, if a maritime worker suffered an accident on the job and sustained an injury, they were out of luck. The law provided no means of redress, even if their employer proved negligent.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury Claim

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or LHWCA, provides compensation to a select group of maritime workers in the event of disability, illness, injury or death if it happens on the job in applicable locations. LHWCA compensation may cover full or partial medical costs, living expenses and the costs associated with rehabilitation and occupational retraining. This compensation is referred to as the costs of maintenance and cure.

Posted in General, Jones Act

A Maritime Worker’s Rights and the LHWCA

The LHWCA (Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act) is the lifeline of many maritime workers injured on the job. Most injured individuals will find they fit the LHWCA requirements, although qualifications for coverage are strict. The protections and policy ins-and-outs of the act mean the injured worker needs to do a little digging to get the information. However, the longshoremen lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer, & Harris, L.L.P.,

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

Looking Back at The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Although it’s been seven years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the environmental and human devastation may linger for generations. On April 20, 2010, the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico faltered, exploded and burned into the sea off the coast of Louisiana, dumping nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil. It topped a heartbreaking history of missteps that made tragedies such as the Exxon Valdez oil tanker pale in comparison.

6 Reasons You Should Be Talking About Oil Rigs

The importance of oil rigs, oil production and oil prices in 2017 can’t be overstated. Oil has a profound effect on the world economy and the American economy. It also affects the lives of people all over the world. Spikes in oil production can spur jobs and convert economies of developing nations into first world economies.

The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act

If you are a maritime worker, it is important that you are informed about the Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that covers maritime employees who have sustained work-related injuries. If you have sustained work-related maritime injuries on the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining areas, you may be entitled to compensation.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News
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Archive of Category: General

Most Offshore Oil Rig Fires and Gas Explosions Are Preventable

Two of the biggest threats to oil rig workers are fires and gas explosions. Fires and gas explosions have occurred for a number of different reasons, including equipment malfunction, poor or incomplete maintenance, lack of employee training, negligence by the employer, and blowouts.

Posted in General, Jones Act

What is DOHSA?

Anyone who has arrived on this website probably knows already that maritime employment is extremely hazardous. Offshore and maritime personnel are routinely exposed to a shockingly wide array of physical perils, ranging from harsh weather to employer negligence and, as a result, serious injury is far from uncommon in this line of work.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

Is Maritime Piracy Still a Thing?

For centuries, pirates have been a cultural institution of sorts, glamorized in classic literature (Treasure Island), the cinema (the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and various other productions of Western society.

Assessing the Jones Act: The Rights Your Employer Doesn’t Want You to Know

Workplace safety is never more important than when you work at sea. From drowning to falling to slipping on the deck, maritime employees face a variety of serious threats on a daily basis, which employers are responsible for protecting them from. The Jones Act establishes your rights as a seaman, allowing you to hold accountable any employer who does not adequately protect your safety.

Posted in General, Jones Act

Getting Familiar with the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers have the right to compensation. That wasn’t always true.

Once upon a time, if a maritime worker suffered an accident on the job and sustained an injury, they were out of luck. The law provided no means of redress, even if their employer proved negligent.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

Navigating Your LHWCA Injury Claim

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, or LHWCA, provides compensation to a select group of maritime workers in the event of disability, illness, injury or death if it happens on the job in applicable locations. LHWCA compensation may cover full or partial medical costs, living expenses and the costs associated with rehabilitation and occupational retraining. This compensation is referred to as the costs of maintenance and cure.

Posted in General, Jones Act

A Maritime Worker’s Rights and the LHWCA

The LHWCA (Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act) is the lifeline of many maritime workers injured on the job. Most injured individuals will find they fit the LHWCA requirements, although qualifications for coverage are strict. The protections and policy ins-and-outs of the act mean the injured worker needs to do a little digging to get the information. However, the longshoremen lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer, & Harris, L.L.P.,

Posted in General, Jones Act, News

Looking Back at The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Although it’s been seven years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the environmental and human devastation may linger for generations. On April 20, 2010, the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico faltered, exploded and burned into the sea off the coast of Louisiana, dumping nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil. It topped a heartbreaking history of missteps that made tragedies such as the Exxon Valdez oil tanker pale in comparison.

6 Reasons You Should Be Talking About Oil Rigs

The importance of oil rigs, oil production and oil prices in 2017 can’t be overstated. Oil has a profound effect on the world economy and the American economy. It also affects the lives of people all over the world. Spikes in oil production can spur jobs and convert economies of developing nations into first world economies.

The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act

If you are a maritime worker, it is important that you are informed about the Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that covers maritime employees who have sustained work-related injuries. If you have sustained work-related maritime injuries on the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining areas, you may be entitled to compensation.

Posted in General, Jones Act, News
Page 1 of 912345...Last »
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We are maritime injury attorneys that have recovered millions for our injured clients. We have always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel or under the Jones Act law. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones.

These are some of the diverse groups of injured workers we have represented:

  • Jones Act seamen
  • Workers on oil rigs, offshore platforms and jack-up rigs
  • Crews and workers on barges, supply boats, tankers, freighters and other vessels

The list is by no means comprehensive. If you are unsure whether you qualify as a Jones Act seamen or whether you might be covered by other maritime regulations, it’s vital that you contact our maritime lawyers today to learn about your rights.

We have represented workers and their families in the following disasters:

  • Deepwater Horizon Disaster
  • M/V Jillian Morrison Explosion
  • Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 Explosion
  • British Petroleum Texas City Refinery Explosion
  • Phillips 66 Refinery Explosion

The team of Jones Act attorneys and maritime lawyers at SMSH have over 100 years of combined trial experience. Contact our Jones Act lawyers today for a free, confidential case evaluation.

Why Hire the Worldwide Jones Act, Offshore & Maritime Injury Lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris?

The Jones Act and maritime injury lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris have spent more than five decades representing seamen, longshoremen and other maritime workers, and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. SMSH has always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones, as well as recovering the compensation they are entitled to for injuries, medical bills and other damages.

Here are some of the reasons why thousands of injured maritime workers have chosen Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris to represent their interests:

  • We have recovered over $620 million dollars for offshore and maritime workers, including recovery of $17.5 million in the largest Jones Act settlement ever paid by the United States government.
  • Each of our Jones Act attorneys and maritime injury lawyers has more than 25 years of experience, with total of more than 100 years of trial experience for the team.
  • Our maritime injury lawyers have represented clients in some of the nation’s worst maritime and refinery disasters, including: the Deepwater Horizon explosion; the M/V Jillian Morrison explosion; the Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 explosion; the British Petroleum Texas City Refinery explosion; and the Phillips 66 Refinery explosion.
  • As dedicated maritime injury and Jones Act attorneys, we understand the financial difficulties that families often face when a loved one is injured and unable to work. Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris offers interest free loans to assist our clients with day-to-day living expenses while waiting for the conclusion of their case.
  • Our attorneys provide assistance to maritime, offshore and port workers across the United States.
  • We have board certified Personal Injury Trial lawyers.
 

The Maritime Attorney Difference

Maritime and offshore accidents fall under a different set of laws than other personal injury or workers’ compensation claims. There are specific maritime laws that govern claims, including the Jones Act, the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and general maritime laws. To receive the full protections these laws offer, it’s crucial to have an attorney who understands the complexities of each. If you’ve been injured while working on a vessel, offshore or in one of the nation’s many ports, contact the Jones Act attorneys at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris today for a free consultation.
Our experienced offshore injury lawyers have handled cases throughout the Gulf of Mexico coastal region of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and represented clients from all 50 states of the United States. We have years of experience representing the crew working on inland waters such as the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Kentucky River, the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and many more. We have also handled cases worldwide in countries as far away as the Ukraine and Israel. We routinely represent clients from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. We have also made claims for clients from Columbia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, The Philippines, Romania, Croatia, England, Ireland, Spain, The Netherlands, Russia, China, Mexico, and Brazil.

Time is of the Essence

If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured or killed as the result of an offshore accident, please speak to a qualified maritime lawyer before talking to your employer or any insurance company or adjuster. If you work on a vessel, boat, barge, tanker, fishing boat, an offshore drilling rig or platform, or any other kind of ship, you may qualify for Jones Act compensation. Working in, on, or near water means you need the specially-trained legal assistance of the Board Certified maritime lawyers of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P.

A few small tidbits of advice for the injured offshore worker:

  1. Fill out an accident report or incident paperwork as soon as possible after your injury.
  2. If your employer gives you any paperwork to sign, have it reviewed by a competent maritime lawyer so you don’t waive your rights to more money.
  3. Do not give a recorded statement to anyone without first seeking legal counsel.
  4. Do not accept the word of a company doctor as to the extent of your injuries, seek out your own doctor for a second-opinion.
We are Worldwide Jones Act attorneys and Maritime lawyers with over 100 years combined experience in Maritime Personal Injury Cases and we have handled thousands of cases. Your initial consultation for your maritime accident case is FREE. You pay us nothing unless we win your case and get you money. Call a maritime lawyer NOW at 1-800-836-5830 or e-mail us at info@smslegal.com.

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Recent Successful Cases

$17.5 Million in Jones Act Deckhand Case

 

In March 2008, our client was employed as a deckhand in a shipyard. He suffered a head injury.

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$2.5 Million Recovered in Jones Act Case

 

While on stern of tug attempting to hook up a barge, the “L” line became tight, broke, hit our client,

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$1.6 Million Recovered for Offshore Workers

 

On April 20, 2007, while working as blasters, painting an offshore rig on a platform, our two clients injured

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