Alabama Maritime Injuries Lawyers
The maritime industry is a critical part of Alabama’s economy. Maritime workers support a wide range of oil and gas, international trade, and tourism companies that operate along the Gulf Coast. When people get hurt doing these jobs on or near the water, state and federal laws determine how to administer benefits and address any legal claims.
These injuries can be quite serious, but most don’t fall under normal workers’ compensation requirements. Instead, they are subject to federally mandated programs that are specific to the maritime industry.
If you or a loved one have been injured on a ship, boat, dock, or oil rig, you may have questions about your right to benefits under these programs. At Turner, Onderdonk, Kimbrough & Howell P.A., we have been protecting the interests of clients throughout Alabama for over 75 years. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Common Maritime Accidents and Injuries
Working on or near the water can be incredibly dangerous. Boats and docks are full of hazards that you aren’t going to find in a regular work environment. Some of the most common maritime accidents and injuries include:
Falling into the water is a common accident, and it can also be one with fatal consequences. Maritime workers can be swept off of docks or boats due to inclement weather or moving equipment. If they don’t drown or die from hypothermia before being rescued, other injuries are possible.
Bone and Joint Injuries
Maritime work is some of the most physically demanding work available. It’s not uncommon for a worker to sustain serious injuries from falling equipment, dangerous machinery, or overexertion.
There are a lot of chemicals on docks and boats that can cause harm from exposure, and some are even highly flammable. A worker could be injured if they inhale a chemical, get burned in a chemical fire, or have one get absorbed in their skin.
How Maritime Laws Protect Injured Workers
Several maritime acts protect workers that hurt or killed on or near navigable waters. But the two most common are The Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
These are both federally mandated programs. The main distinction between the two is that the Jones Act covers workers who are seamen, and the LHWCA covers other categories of workers that may also be in the maritime industry.
Getting Help for Maritime Injuries through the Jones Act
Seamen covered under the Jones Act can sue their employer for work-related injuries caused by negligence. To win, the employee must show that negligence caused or contributed to the accident and their resulting injuries. For example, an employer that failed to fix a known hazard on a vessel would be responsible when that hazard caused a serious injury.
That’s just one example of negligence that could justify a Jones Act claim. Some others include:
- Inadequate training for seamen
- Defective or faulty equipment
- Inadequate or missing safety equipment
- Demanding too many hours on the job
- Navigational errors
- Inappropriate or unsafe protocols
- Assault by or negligence on the part of another crew member
- Emphasizing speed over safety
- Failure to evacuate crew or provide timely medical attention
Who is Covered by the Jones Act?
The Jones Act offers protection for individuals working on vessels or ships. Some examples of the types of vessels covered include:
- Cargo ships
- Tug boats
- Construction barges
- Fishing vessels
- Floating cranes
- Drilling rigs
- Cruise ships
The Jones Act covers “seamen,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be traveling the high seas. Some examples of employees that may be covered include:
- Oil rig workers
The law has a 30% standard, which states that the employee must work on a vessel at least 30% of the time.
Benefits Available Under the Jones Act
If you or a loved one has been injured as a seaman through the negligence of another party, you have the right to pursue compensation. Some of the damages you can claim include:
- Present and future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of lifetime earning capacity
- Living expenses during recovery
- Physical and mental anguish
Unfortunately, few insurance companies will pay the full value of your compensation without a fight. Contact our office today, and we will be your strongest legal advocate.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA)
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act works similar to the Jones Act. The difference is that this law provides benefits to maritime workers who repair ships, load and unload cargo, work on piers and decks, etc. It excludes workers covered by the Jones Act or by state workers’ compensation programs.
What to Do If You’ve Suffered a Maritime Injury
What you do just after a maritime injury could have a big impact on your case. If you’ve been injured, here are a few steps you can take to protect your rights:
- Report your injury to your employer promptly.
- Get immediate medical attention, even if you feel you don’t need it.
- Document the accident with notes, photos, and witness names.
- Speak with a qualified maritime injury attorney as soon as possible.
Even if your employer and their insurance company are open to paying benefits, there’s no guarantee that you are being treated fairly. Before you sign anything or speak with a claims adjuster, discuss your case with an injury attorney that can thoroughly review your situation.
Contact an Experienced Alabama Maritime Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have been hurt, it’s vital that you understand your legal rights. Even if you are being paid benefits, you may not be getting the full amount you need and deserve. At Turner, Onderdonk, Kimbrough & Howell P.A., we offer free case reviews to help you understand your options.
Not every injury attorney is qualified to handle maritime accidents. We have specific experience with maritime law and understand how to fully protect your interests. Call our Chatom office today at (251) 847-2237 or contact us online to schedule your initial appointment.