Louisiana Maritime Accident Attorney

Offshore Injury Lawyer

oil rig and ships at seaMaritime work is physically demanding. According to some estimates, maritime and admiralty workers are twice as likely as those in the construction industry to suffer a workplace injury. These injuries take a toll both physically and financially, threatening the livelihood of maritime workers throughout the Gulf Coast.

Offshore accidents may cause the same types of injuries as accidents that take place on land but as an experienced maritime attorney will tell you, the procedure for pursuing a claim is different. An offshore injury lawyer can help you avoid the pitfalls that this unique area of law often brings.

The Bart Bernard Law Firm with locations in Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Louisiana understands the unique legal issues facing victims of maritime accidents including:

If an offshore injury threatens your livelihood, call us today to set up a consultation with a Louisiana maritime injury lawyer.

Special qualifications of a maritime attorney

There are a lot of personal injury lawyers out there but maritime and admiralty law makes up a distinct practice area. This field requires knowledge of federal statutes, state practices, and even common law that goes back hundreds of years.

Applying the federal statutes is not always straightforward but review by the trained eyes of maritime lawyers increases the likelihood of a successful claim.

For example:

  • Filing a claim under the correct statute, and following the correct procedure, is crucial.
  • Even after a claim is filed, there is less oversight for payments owed to injured seamen than that found in a state-based workers’ compensation claim.
  • Claimants may need to seek enforcement through state and federal courts.

Bart Bernard understands the way maritime admiralty law affects the injury claims of seamen and other maritime workers in Louisiana. He guides injured seamen and other maritime injury victims through the claims process, and sees that it is carried out completely.

Federal laws govern maritime accidents

Seafaring has been a mode of transportation and a means for trade for thousands of years. It should be no surprise, then, that maritime common law goes back at least 200 years. The United States still recognizes maritime common law concepts of “seaworthiness” and “maintenance and cure” as a basis of a personal injury lawsuit.

In the past 100 years, federal lawmakers have tried to protect workers from maritime dangers by enacting the Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. When these laws apply, they take the place of Louisiana state-level liability and worker’s compensation claims. Below are some of the possible paths of recourse for offshore injuries.

Maritime Admiralty Law

Admiralty law imposes a common law duty on a ship’s owner to ensure the vessel is seaworthy and to provide “maintentance and cure” for an injured worker.

Examples of these duties include the obligation to ensure:

  • Seaworthiness – a vessel must be fit for the reasonably-expected perils of the sea. An owner is strictly liable (liable even without being negligent) for injuries suffered due to unseaworthiness.
  • Maintenance and Cure – regardless of fault (and absent wilful misbehavior), an injured maritime worker is entitled to medical and financial support, including room and board and lost wages, through the remainder of the voyage and until recovered.

Jones Act Claims

The Jones Act is a federal law that governs U.S. ships. The portion of the Act found at Title 46 of U.S. Code §30104 authorizes the personal injury claims of seamen. It functions similarly to civil personal injury claims but in a specialized context – injury claims are based on fault so an employer must have been negligent in order to be liable but a seaman can recover even if he was also partly at fault; the recovery will be reduced proportionally under comparative fault rules.

Other important aspects to the act include:

  • Only a “seaman” on a “vessel” can file a Jones Act claim.
  • To be considered a “seaman”, your duties must contribute to the function of the vessel,either in its navigation or in its accomplishment of a mission and you must be permanently assigned to or spend around a third of your time on a “vessel”.
  • A “vessel” is a watercraft used for transportation, including barges, oil rigs, supply vessels, and many other watercrafts that traverse navigable waters.

The compensation available under the Jones Act is broader than what is available under a Louisiana workers’ compensation claim. Instead of only special damages like medical bills and lost wages, it also covers general damages like pain and suffering. But Jones Act claims must follow proper procedure so it is important to work with a knowledgable maritime accidents lawyer like Bart Barnard.

Longshore Act Claims

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), or Longshore Act, applies to injuries to maritime workers other than seamen. This includes workers in areas like docks, terminals, piers, and any other facility that adjoins navigable waters but does not constitute a vessel.

A Longshore Act claim, in essence, takes the place of a worker’s compensation claim it proceeds differently than a Jones Act claim. The liability of the employer is not an issue but common disputes are the severity of the disability and the calculation of the average weekly wage. These may seem like straightforward calculations but there are multiple ways to calculate them and many people leave money on the table by letting claims adjusters apply the wrong one. Bart Bernard knows what to look for in these situations, helping you keep money in the pockets of you and your family instead of the shipping company.

Speak with a Maritime lawyer in Louisiana

If you have been injured in a boat accident or other maritime-related incident, put your trust in the Bart Bernard Law Firm, with offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We understand how maritime admiralty law affects your rights and can help you obtain maximum compensation under the law. Call (337) 989-BART for a free case review.

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