Lambert Zainey has a dedicated team of maritime lawyers that represent clients who have been injured or economically harmed in the course of their maritime related work. Hugh Lambert has successfully represented clients with maritime injury claims for over 40 years and has seen about all there is to see in the maritime world.
Below are some of the most frequently asked maritime accident questions we receive. Whether you end up hiring a lawyer or not, the best thing you can do is get information and answers to your questions so you can make an informed decision on what to do next.
Do I qualify as a ‘Seaman’ under the Jones Act?
Jones Act Seamen can sue their employer for work-related injuries caused by the employer’s negligence. Qualifying as a Jones Act Seaman can greatly increase your rights to recovery of damages for an injury related to your maritime employment. To qualify as a seaman under the Jones act, a worker must:
*Have a substantial connection to a fleet or vessel considerable in duration and nature,
*Be employed on vessel “in navigation,” and
*Contribute to the vessel’s function or mission.
Sometimes it’s not obvious whether or not you’re a Jones Act Seaman. Some common examples of workers that may not know that they might have rights as a Jones Act Seaman are crew-members of crane barges on the river, cover-stackers, offshore drill who are often assigned to drillships or drilling barges, workers on offshore derrick barges, and many others. If you’re not sure whether or not you qualify as a Jones Act Seaman, call or e-mail us.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover as a Jones Act Seaman?
Maritime workers who are Jones Act Seamen can recover the following damages:
*Maintenance & Cure
*Lost Wages (past and future)
*Pain and suffering
*Wrongful death benefits
*Reimbursement for Medical Expenses
*Future Medical Care
Maintenance and Cure: What Is It and Am I Entitled to It?
When an offshore worker becomes ill or is injured while in service of a vessel, the employer is responsible for certain expenses to the worker. Expenses covered under maintenance and cure includes daily living expenses and medical expenses.
Almost all offshore workers who are injured or become ill during service are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Only when a pre-employment medical examination is performed and the employee lies about pre-existing conditions may the employer reasonably contest these benefits. Even then, unless the preexisting condition caused the illness or injuries, many times employers are still required to pay maintenance and cure benefits.
I Have Been Hurt Offshore, What Do I Do?
Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. You can’t always do that without the company knowing about it, especially if you’re on a rig or vessel, so here are some tips to follow if you can’t speak with a lawyer or just aren’t yet comfortable talking to one:
Tip 1: Talk to a doctor you trust (not the one the company sends you to).
Tip 2: Complete an incident report (but don’t sign the one that the safety man types up and tells you to sign – make sure you write what happened from your perspective, not the company’s)
Tip 3: Take pictures, if you can.
Tip 4: Get names and phone numbers of witnesses.
Tip 5: Be honest with yourself about how hurt you are and don’t go back to work before you’re ready.
What are my rights if I have been injured offshore?
Whether you are a seaman or a longshoreman, and whether it was your fault or someone else’s, you have rights as a maritime worker. Here are the main ones:
*The right to see a doctor of your choosing.
*The right to be reimbursed for medical treatment related to your injury or illness, including transportation to and from the medical provider.
*The right to receive certain monetary benefits, maintenance for seamen (usually about $40 per day) or comp benefits for longshoremen (usually 2/3 of your weekly wages).
*The right to both medical and economic benefits listed above at least until you reach maximum medical improvement or “MMI.”
*The right to talk to an experienced maritime lawyer, like those at Lambert Zainey, even if you just want answers to questions like these.
What Causes Helicopter Accidents?
Helicopters are generally a safe and efficient means of transportation. However, accidents do happen. Failure to properly plan flights or adequately maintain helipads and aircraft may result in injury-causing incidents. Sometimes mechanical issues from design or manufacturing defects are responsible for helicopter accidents as well. Lambert Zainey is skilled and knowledgeable to represent pilots and/or passengers injured in helicopter incidents. Hugh Lambert has been an IFR rated pilot for much of his legal career and is experienced in determining the cause of helicopter incidents, whether from maintenance, negligence, or defective components of the aircraft.
What Can A Seaman Do If Their Employer Ends Maintenance and Cure Too Soon?
If a seaman qualifies for maintenance and cure benefits, the employer is obligated to pay these benefits until the seaman reaches Maximum Medical Improvement, or MMI. MMI is the point at which a seaman’s condition cannot be improved any further. This doesn’t necessarily mean the seaman is fully recovered and ready to return to work — it merely means that no further treatments or procedures will improve their condition.
So what happens when the company doctor states the injured seaman has achieved MMI but their opinion does not agree with the seaman’s personal physician (or any medical professional with similar expertise)? MMI is a medical determination, not a legal one. Even if the company doctor is of the opinion that the seaman has reached MMI, the seaman still has the right to see a doctor of their own choosing. The courts have little sympathy for an employer who is “arbitrary and capricious” or “willful or callous” in delaying, denying or terminating maintenance and cure benefits to their employees.
What Does the Maritime Law Cover?
A unique body of maritime law, also known as admiralty law, governs maritime legal issues, questions, and concerns. The law applies both domestically and internationally. It includes many regulations and rules, including shipping, cargo, maritime injuries, passengers, goods, accidents, and personal injury.
What is an Example of Maritime Law?
Some examples are commercial accidents that damage cargo and vessels, accidents involving seafarers, and hazardous material spills. The law of maritime can also apply to piracy and criminal activity, liens against ships, wake damage, and towing contracts. On navigable waters, jurisdiction has increased in a growing number of cases involving recreational boating accidents.
What if I have more maritime accident questions?
Lambert Zainey has the knowledge and experience in offshore injuries and maritime accidents to answer all of your questions. Contact our New Orleans maritime injury lawyers for a free consultation and review of your claim.
Lambert Zainey has represented injured maritime workers for more than 40 years. Our attorneys understand the ins and outs of the maritime industry and the laws that govern maritime employers and employees. We are proud to have a reputation for aggressively fighting for the rights of injured workers and getting the full amount of compensation our clients are entitled to.
During times like these, it is of the utmost importance to know your rights as a maritime worker. In our country, seamen are wards of the court, which means they enjoy special protections because of their exposure to the perils of the sea and dangers of performing their duties so far from their homes for extended periods of time and having to rely on their employers to provide a safe place to work.
Over $1 Billion Recovered For Our Injured Clients