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.
Louisiana residents who work as seamen or dock workers could easily become involved in an accident. Of the many injuries they could suffer a blow to the head is considered one of the most serious for a variety of reasons. However, what many people do not realize is that there is a difference between a traumatic brain injury and a head injury.
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.