Suffering a serious work-related injury often comes with a significant recovery period. During that time, an injured worker here in Louisiana or elsewhere will incur medical expenses and lose income. If a full recovery is not possible, then other financial losses could occur well into the future. Seeking compensation for those financial losses is not quite as simple for seaman and marine workers. Instead, they rely on the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, respectively, but it is not always clear which act applies to a certain worker's circumstances.
There are moments when those from here in Louisiana get the view of a lifetime on board the ship they work on. Just the noise of the water, the stars and the salty breeze in a quiet corner can often make a rough day worthwhile. However, over time, some of those workers may no longer be able to enjoy the sounds of the water due to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) caused by their jobs.
Working on the vessels that navigate the country's waters from here in Louisiana can provide one with a unique work experience that he or she may never get anywhere else. However, that does not mean that workers do not have anything in common with people who work on land. The back injuries they suffer, for instance, probably end up happening in the same way as on land and are just as debilitating.
Working on a seafaring vessel may be a dream for many Louisiana residents. But anyone who navigates the country's waterways also takes on a certain level of risk. Any number of injuries could happen aboard vessels and may keep workers from their jobs and even cause lifelong repercussions to their health and well-being.
Many of the vessels off the coast of Louisiana have refrigeration systems on board. The compounds used in those systems could pose significant dangers to those working on, near or around them. Without taking the proper precautions, injury hazards could put several people at risk at any given time.
Working on a oil rig requires daily safety checks. Louisiana residents who work on oil rigs may come to consider their days as routine, but they are often anything but that. Every day is another opportunity for a 'fixed equipment mechanical integrity failure' to occur, which could lead to catastrophic injuries that require pursuing compensation under admiralty and maritime law.
Louisiana workers who are eligible for workers' compensation benefits are not required to prove much above whether the accident occurred at work and in the performance of work duties. However, for seamen who fall under the Jones Act instead of workers' compensation, the situation is a bit more complex. Injured seamen do need to meet a certain burden of proof in order to receive compensation for their injuries.
Most seafarers know that if they suffer injuries while working on Louisiana's navigable waters, they can turn to either the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act for compensation. What about the families of those seamen who lose their lives while performing their duties? In that case, qualified family members may turn to the Death on the High Seas Act, which is another part of admiralty and maritime law enacted to protect seamen and their families.
It is no surprise to those Louisiana residents who work on oil rigs that their jobs come with a significant amount of risk. Even though the hazards come from a variety of sources, explosions in recent years have made it more than clear that risks can lead to serious or deadly injuries. Those who work on the outer continental shelf may wonder how their injuries are covered. Fortunately, the federal government accounted for this by enacting the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to extend coverage to oil rig workers under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.
If you spend more than 30 percent of your time in the navigable waterways around Louisiana and suffer a work-related injury, you would make a claim for compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, but if you don't meet that minimum amount of time, you will need to go another route. In that case, you may be entitled to seek benefits under the Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. If you meet the definition of a private mariner under the act, you may be entitled to benefits.