Seamen on a cargo ship, tanker, freighter, or bulk carrier are exposed to some of the most hazardous working conditions in the shipping industry. Cargo ship employees contend with severe weather conditions, treacherous footing, heavy equipment, and massive containers. These dangerous working conditions can cause serious cargo ship accidents. Severe injuries caused by a cargo ship accident can prevent seamen from working offshore, resulting in a loss of income for them and their families.
At Koch & Schmidt, our New Orleans maritime lawyers understand the dangers involved in working as a seaman on cargo ships, tankers, and container vessels. Maritime workers earn high pay, but increased pay comes with increased risk. Cargo ship employees are often exposed to significant risk to their health and livelihoods daily. Our attorneys have a firm grasp of the Jones Act and other federal laws that protect shipping industry workers. If you’ve become injured in a cargo ship accident, we can help. Contact our New Orleans maritime law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.
Common Causes of Cargo Ship Accidents
There are many causes of cargo ship accidents, including fires and collisions. Our maritime lawyers have successfully handled all different types of cargo ship accidents and the catastrophic injuries caused by them, including:
- Crushing injuries
- Limb amputation
- Traumatic brain injuries that cause neurological, cognitive, and motor skills impairment
- Severe burns
- Back and neck injuries, including paralysis
- Quadriplegia and paraplegia caused by spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
Your Rights As a Seaman Under the Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law that allows seaman to submit legal claims for injuries they sustained while in a vessel’s service. When a seaman becomes ill, injured, or experiences the aggravation of an illness or injury while in the service of the vessel, he or she is entitled to maintenance, cure, and unearned wages, such as:
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Past and future unpaid medical expenses
- The cost of retraining for another type of job
- Damages for pain and suffering
- Damages for disfigurement
- Compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life
- Damages for other economic losses related to the injury
The Jones Act provides seamen with the right to certain types of payments when they become injured on cargo ships or other shipping vessels. Seaman filing a claim under the Jones Act must meet the following elements to take advantage of these benefits:
- The seaman suffered an injury
- Another person’s negligence caused the injury
- The injury occurred while the seaman was working on an ocean-going vessel, crew boat, supply boat, tugboat, jack-up rig, or oil and gas rig
Investigating Your Cargo Accident Injuries
Our maritime employees have extensive experience bringing claims under the Jones Act on behalf of injured cargo ship employees. We will investigate your claim and determine whether the ship was unseaworthy or whether any unsafe conditions contributed to the accident that caused your injuries. We will travel offshore to investigate your injuries and use our vast network of industry experts to pursue monetary compensation on your behalf.
Many of our clients have worked on container ships that transported food and goods, such as grain bound for Africa or consumer products made in China. We have also represented clients who became injured on tankers carrying combustible raw materials and chemicals that exploded and caused severe burn injuries or deaths. Whatever the location and cause of your injuries, we will conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf.
We believe that cargo ship employers should be held accountable when their employees suffer injuries caused by their negligence. After investigating your case, we will represent you through the claims process and ensure that your employer provides you with the full amount of compensation you’re entitled to under the Jones Act.
Your Right to Maintenance
Eligible seamen injured while in service of the vessel are entitled to maintenance payments. Maintenance payments are daily stipend amounts covering room and board expenses while the seaman is on land recovering from the illness or injury. The number and amount of maintenance payments will be established by the collective bargaining agreement with the Seafarers International Union or another union.
You will be entitled to maintenance payments from your employer as long as you are getting curative medical treatment to improve your injury or medical condition. Your employer has the right to stop maintenance payments when you reach the maximum medical cure from the condition.
Your Right to Medical Cure
Medical cure involves direct payment of your medical expenses. You have a right to seek medical treatment from any doctor of your choice. You do not have to seek treatment from one of the physicians chosen by your employer. Your employer must pay for all of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses, including occupational and physical therapy treatments.
Your Right to Unearned Wages
Seamen injured while in service of the vessel are also entitled to payment for their unearned wages. Unearned wages include your regular wages until the end of your contract with your employer or the end of the voyage. Your governing collective bargaining agreement may govern the duration of payments for unearned wages.
Contact a New Orleans Cargo Ship Lawyer Today
Becoming injured in a cargo ship accident can be devastating for you and your family. If you’ve experienced a severe injury, such as an amputation or severe burns, you may not be able to return to your offshore job after you heal. At Koch & Schmidt, our maritime lawyers will advocate for your rights and answer your questions regarding recovering compensation for your injuries under the Jones Act. The sooner you speak with a maritime lawyer, the sooner you can start the process of recovering the compensation you deserve. Contact our New Orleans law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.