Being close to major waterways here in Louisiana provides a substantial amount of employment opportunities for residents. Working in a shipyard, on the docks or on a vessel provides numerous benefits, but also a wide variety of risks. One that employers should never overlook is the atmosphere on a ship, which could result in serious harm to workers.
The waterways around Louisiana provide employment for numerous residents. During the course of their duties, they could suffer debilitating injuries. The problem is that those who work on vessels, harbors, docks or oil platforms do not qualify for traditional workers' compensation as those who work on land do. Instead, they must rely on admiralty and maritime law for the benefits they need during recovery.
Sailors here in Louisiana and elsewhere face numerous dangers aboard ship regardless of whether they work for the U.S. military or a private company. One of those hazards comes from chemicals and other materials that could be toxic. Sailors have a right to know what could potentially cause them harm as they perform their onboard duties, and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in a case involving maritime law affirms that right.
Working on one of Louisiana's navigable vessels comes with risks. While workers often make sure they do what they can to avoid the obvious risks associated with their jobs, they may not pay enough attention to the less dangerous, but potentially just as debilitating, dangers. For instance, a neck sprain may not seem serious, but it could keep a worker on land for some time.
When considering on-the-job injuries, most Louisiana residents think of acute accidents resulting in catastrophic results. Those types of accidents do happen, but a large number of injuries suffered by those who work on water, or on land for that matter, result from repetitive movements that result in chronic pain. These types of injuries often result in time away from work when the pain reaches a certain point and medical intervention is required.
While many may think that icebergs are the greatest threat to passengers and crew members on a cruise ship, this just isn't so. Some of the greatest threats to health and safety exist right on the vessel itself. Louisiana passengers may be exposed to some of these dangers, but the crew of a cruise ship may be at even greater risk. Admiralty and maritime law protects cruise ship employees who suffer injuries on navigable waters.
Without a doubt, suffering a spinal cord injury can change a Louisiana worker's life forever. Even achieving as full a recovery as possible interferes with daily life, and an individual may no longer be able to engage in certain activities, including work duties, as he or she did prior to the accident. This makes pursuing compensation under admiralty and maritime law all the more important for those who work in the industry, especially if secondary complications arise.
Most Louisiana residents use their dominant hand for nearly everything. When a work-related accident leads to a break or fracture in that hand, life can become particularly frustrating, annoying and troublesome. In fact, some employees may not even be able to return to work until reaching a full recovery.
Louisiana residents who work on the country's navigable waters can tell others how dangerous it can be. Television reality shows such as "The Deadliest Catch" brought these hazards to the public, but viewers may not truly understand how possible and devastating deaths on commercial fishing vessels are. In many instances, the fate of surviving family members hinges on successfully navigating admiralty and maritime law.
Those who work on a vessel or on a dock here in Louisiana are probably already aware of the fact that if they suffer a work-related injury, they may not qualify to file a workers' compensation claim under the state's system. Instead, they may fall under either the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act or the Jones Act. Determining how to pursue compensation for on-the-job injuries -- whether through the LHWCA, Jones Act or state system -- can be problematic.