The maritime industry is a critical component of the economy in Louisiana, employing thousands of maritime workers. Given the inherent dangers of working on docks, ports, waterways, vessels and oil rigs, maritime accidents frequently result in serious personal injuries and fatalities. Although injured workers are protected by a number of maritime laws, enforcing your rights requires the skills of an experienced maritime lawyer.
Koch & Schmidt LLC, based in New Orleans, is a premier admiralty and maritime law practice serving clients in southern Louisiana and the Texas Gulf Coast region. We are dedicated to helping injured maritime workers – seamen, longshoremen, oil rig workers, cruise ship employees – obtain the compensation and benefits they deserve. If you have been injured in a maritime accident, we will offer you knowledge, compassion and first-class representation.
Maritime Claims Handled By Koch & Schmidt
Understanding The Jones Act
Under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act, a seaman can file a lawsuit against their offshore employer if their injuries on a boating vessel were caused by the negligence of their employer or a co-worker. To qualify for protection under the Jones Act, a seaman’s job must be integral to the vessel’s functioning and the completion of its mission. The injured seaman’s work on or with the vessel must be appreciable in duration of time and nature of the work.
While this seems straightforward, pursuing a Jones Act lawsuit can be complicated. The best way to protect your rights and obtain just compensation is to consult a knowledgeable maritime attorney. Although we prefer to resolve Jones Act claims through negotiated settlements, our trial lawyers have a proven history of achieving successful outcomes in court.
Workers’ Compensation May Be Available Through ‘Maintenance And Cure’
Injured seaman may have a right to seek “maintenance and cure” until they are able to return to work. Benefits may include:
- Maintenance: Money to pay for the expenses of daily living for each day they cannot return to work. Employers often try to pay the least amount possible but are mandated by the courts to pay the full amount of the injured worker’s expenses.
- Cure: Payment for the injured seaman’s medical bills until they have reached what the law calls “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). Determined by a physician, MMI indicates when a worker’s condition or injury will no longer improve with further medical treatment.
Employers are required to pay adequately for maintenance and cure; if your does not, call us. Our attorneys at Koch & Schmidt can help. If we can show that your employer was unreasonable and arbitrary, you may be awarded attorney fees and punitive damages.
The Longshore And Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Dockworkers and other land-based employees who have been injured in accidents while working on piers, bridges or harbors are protected by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), a no-fault system for compensation. Operating similarly to the state workers’ compensation program, the LHWCA provides medical and disability benefits to injured workers – or death benefits to surviving family members – who were involved in maritime activity on land, such as:
- Loading cargo
- Unloading cargo
- Repairing vessels
- Building a vessel or related structure
While the LHWCA is designed to protect injured maritime workers or provide for their surviving family members, obtaining benefits can be complicated. Injured workers are at a disadvantage against employers and insurance companies that often attempt to deny claims or pay as little as possible. The maritime lawyers at Koch & Schmidt have the skills and resources to level the playing field.
If you are seeking benefits under the LHWCA, we will work tirelessly to help you obtain the full value of your claim. In addition, we will also determine whether you should pursue a claim under the LHWCA or a Jones Act claim if negligence played a role in your injury.
A Shipowner Must Maintain Their Seaworthy Vessel
Under the doctrine of unseaworthiness, shipowners must maintain their vessel so that it is seaworthy. This general maritime law indicates that ships, boats and other vessels must be kept in condition to transport passengers, goods, and crew members and provide requisite safety measures, including having the right number of crew members on board to safely handle all their tasks. Maritime lawsuits frequently involve the doctrine of unseaworthiness and hold a shipowner liable for injuries to passengers and workers.
Death On The High Seas Act
Surviving family members of crew members, cruise employees, seamen, passengers and others who die while working or traveling in international waters are protected by the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). A personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim under DOHSA.
Under DOHSA, the spouse, children and other dependents of the deceased individual may be entitled to damages such as:
- Loss of support and companionship
- Loss of services and parental guidance
- Medical expenses
- Loss of inheritance
- Funeral and burial expenses
If the decedent was considered a “seaman” under the Jones Act, additional damages may be available, including lost and future wages and the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death.
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) broadens the protections of the Jones Act and the LHWCA to workers involved in exploring and extracting resources out at sea, or the outer continental shelf (OCS). In particular, workers on oil rigs, harbor workers, longshoremen and individuals involved in ship repair and shipbuilding are covered under the OCSLA. The act allows such workers to recover compensation for personal injuries and also provides legal remedies to surviving family members of workers who sustained fatal injuries while working on the OCS.
Contact Our Attorneys For Powerful Maritime Law Representation
Our attorneys at Koch & Schmidt have a solid reputation for their knowledge of admiralty and maritime law. They provide assertive strategies for our clients when they need it most. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a maritime accident, we can help. Please contact our office today online or call us at 504-208-9040 for a free evaluation of your case.