Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Do Dockworkers Have Special Laws That Protect Them In the Event Of an Injury?

Dockworkers and Longshoreman do, in fact, have a specific law which is targeted at protecting them financially in the event that they are injured while on the job. There are a number of laws like this that are profession specific. These laws usually relate to those jobs that are more dangerous or more likely to result in the injury of a worker in order to ensure that people still feel protected enough to fulfill those essential services. In the case of dockworkers and longshoremen, it is the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Compensation act. Usually you will just see this listed as the LHWCA.

This act provides medical benefits as well as covering the cost of rehabilitation for any injury sustained by these workers by on the job. In fact, this act also provides benefits for diseases that they may contract from their work, or that may be made worse by the conditions in which they work. They also will receive compensation for lost wages so that they can continue to support themselves in a proper lifestyle; meeting a basic standard of living. When this law was originally created, it only covered workers who weren't already covered by a workers’ compensation law in their state. However, it has now been changed to cover all workers who specifically fall under its guidelines.

It is important to understand who is covered under the LHWCA in order to realize who can receive these types of benefits and who would be required to file a more traditional workers’ compensation claim in the event of an injury while at work. Longshoreman, dock workers, harbor workers, anyone directly working on building or repairing ships, and ship breakers are all considered covered under this law. However, those who might work for a harbor in an office situation as an example, are not covered, and would have to file a different type of claim if injured on the job.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Does the Jones Act Protect Oil Rig Workers?

Offshore oil rigs are another one of those murky areas of law when it comes to what regulations and statutes cover workers who are injured while working on one. In fact, it is possible to say that oil rigs are among the most complicated of these situations to analyze. This is because, depending on the type of rig on which one is working, there are different laws that might apply. Therefore, in order to figure out whether or not the Jones Act will protect you if you're working on an oil rig, it is first important to understand the specifics of the type of rig that you are working on.

If you're on a floating oil rig or jack up, then you might, in fact, be covered under the Jones Act because you could be considered an employee of a seagoing vessel. This is the specific type of worker that the Jones Act is designed to cover. It is important to have laws in place like this which do cover the rights and protect oil rig workers. Working on off shore drilling rigs has been shown to be among the most dangerous career paths a person can take, which is why the compensation for these workers is high and why there are specific laws in place to protect them.

If the Jones Act does not apply, such as for someone working on an offshore drilling rig which is permanently affixed to the ocean floor, there is another law beyond basic workers’ compensation laws which can protect the rights of the workers on that oil rig. This is the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, or LHWCA. This law covers most maritime workers who are working on or around the water, who for one reason or another aren't already covered by the Jones Act.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Am I Covered by the Jones Act as a Dockworker?

Understanding Maritime Law can be complicated at the best of times and, as there are many different types of laws which cover the injuries of those who work in and around the water, it can get extremely cloudy as to which laws cover which workers. Dockworkers are especially unclear as to which laws cover them. It is important to know which laws apply to you. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, but if you know what laws are in place to protect you, you can have a good idea of how best to proceed in the unfortunate event of any of these injuries taking place.

If a dock worker has heard about the Jones Act, they are often going to wonder if they are covered under this law. The Jones Act is a federal law which covers the workers and seamen who are employed by a seagoing vessel. The confusion could come from the fact that this law also applies to those employees even when they are not directly on the ship, such as when they are working on the dock. However, for people who are actually dockworkers, and not just seamen who happen to be working on the dock at the time of their injury, there is a separate law.

The law in place to protect dockworkers in the case of an injury is called the Longshoreman & Harbor Workers Compensation Act, commonly abbreviated as LHWCA. This law covers dock workers and enables them to make a claim in the event that they are injured or contract an illness as a result of their work, and also extends to employees of many off shore oil platforms (except for certain types of those which would instead be covered under the aforementioned Jones Act.) The LHWCA pays out benefits for a worker injured on the job in order to help to pay for his medical care and rehabilitation, as well as helping to make up for lost wages.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Husband Died While Working On the River and I Believe Negligence Was Involved

When someone dies while working on a boat or a ship of any kind, there are typically two laws which might apply. There is the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. The Death on the High Seas Act, however, would not apply to someone working on a River, so if, as an example, a woman's husband were to die while working on a river, the law they would want to pursue would be the Jones Act, which also covers navigable waterways, such as large rivers. The Jones Act also covers injuries sustained while a vessel is docked and not just ships working more than three nautical miles out from shore like the Death on the High Seas Act.

Benefits from the Jones Act are not only payable to the person who is injured while on the vessel. If this were the case, there would be no recourse for the spouse of someone who was killed while working on a vessel, but the truth is that if someone does die while employed on a boat or ship, their spouse does retain the right to file a claim under the Jones Act.

When negligence is suspected in the case of the death of an employee of a boat or a ship, there are other statutes which also come into play, such as the General Maritime Law. Negligence is a very serious charge and, if true, can also entitle you to additional benefits; however, this is a very complicated area of the law. If you have reason to suspect negligence, or for that matter have any need to make a death claim regarding maritime law or the Jones Act, it is very important for you to hire a maritime lawyer or Jones Act specialist in order to ensure that you are treated fairly and that you actually receive the compensation that you are due.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Boss Told Me That if I File a Claim, I'll Lose My Job

Unfortunately, after the unfortunate circumstances of getting injured on the job, you are not likely to receive a lot of support from your employer. It can become very clear, very quickly, that they are in fact a company and, even if you get along well with a manager or immediate superior, if you are injured, the situation will quickly become a case of the company as an entity trying to protect their assets. That usually means hanging you out to dry.

As soon as a company has an employee at sea injured who would be covered under the Jones Act, the first thing they do is tell their lawyers. Those lawyers are immediately going to want to do two things: 1.) talk to you, and 2.) have you sign certain documents. These discussions and forms will often be used by the company’s attorneys in order to try entrapping you into a lie if your story varies even a tiny bit at some time in the future. They can sometimes even be up to worse things than that with the statements and documents they are requesting from you, such as signing away any responsibility of the company whatsoever. The most important thing you can do is to do absolutely nothing; not until you have talked to a Jones Act or maritime law lawyer.

If you refuse to give a statement or sign anything, you will quite often be threatened with termination. This, again, just emphasizes the need for you to get in contact with a lawyer. If they, at any time, threaten you with termination while trying to get you to perform any action after you have been injured on their sea going vessel, the best thing you can do is to refuse to have any further dialogues with them at all until you have an attorney present. That does mean ANY dialogue at all, because even the most innocuous sounding remark can be used against you in the future.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My boss wants me to sign this form...

One of the most common reasons that people lose their chance to make a valid claim under the Jones Act is because they sign something after their injury without fully understanding what they may be signing.

This isn't meant to insult anyone's intelligence, it is merely meant to put things all in their proper perspective. After you are injured on the job while at sea, your employers are immediately going to see the possibility of a Jones Act claim being laid against them. While you likely do not have the services of a full time Jones act lawyer on your staff, as a company which employs several people at sea, it is a safe bet to ensure that your employers do. In fact, many larger shipping companies have entire legal departments, staffed with several experts in this area.

Many times, immediately after you are injured your employer and their lawyers are going to overwhelm you asking you to sign various documents, which may either state that the events occurred in a certain way or that waive certain portions, if not all, of your rights. It is always good advice to never sign legally binding documents without first having a lawyer review them, but this is doubly important in this type of a situation.

When you're injured on the job, your ability to earn income and sustain your standard of living can be seriously in jeopardy unless you have a means of being paid fairly for an on the job injury. That is why you need to seek the services of a lawyer who specializes in Jones Act cases as soon as you can following your injury; especially if your company is trying to make you sign documents of any kind after the accident. The most basic and safest rule to follow whenever you sustain an injury on the job, whether on dry land or sea, is to never sign anything until you consult with a lawyer who specializes in your type of on the job injury.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Will I Be Covered by the Jones Act If I’m Working on a Moored Vessel?

The definition of what kinds of seagoing vessels are covered by the Jones Act has certainly been cause for confusion in the past. Court cases have continuously emerged over the course of the last several decades that have expanded and refined the definition of which workers are covered under the act and which are not. One example of the fine lines that the courts have drawn is moored vessels. If you happen to work on a moored vessel, you may find the following information very helpful if you are ever injured while performing the duties of your job.

The coverage of an employee working on such a vessel depends mostly on the degree to which the vessel is moored. As the definition has evolved, certain things such as floating oil platforms, which, while moored, are afloat and being worked on while at sea, have been determined to be covered under the Jones Act. So, if you're working aboard a floating oil rig, a stationary barge, or other similar type of vessel, there is a good chance that you're going to be able to receive benefits under the terms of the Jones Act in the event that you are injured while at work.

However, there are vessels which are not covered under this act. This includes those which have been permanently moored to the shore or the banks of any body of water. This includes structures like dry docks, wharves, and certain boat structures, which are no longer counted as vessels. This would also exclude any boats which are connected to the infrastructure systems of the city in which they are located, such as a boat which is receiving electricity, water, or telephone connections from the city they are docked in. So again, whether or not your vessel is moored is less important than the degree to which it is considered to actually be a vessel under the terms of the Jones Act, when determining whether or not you could receive Jones Act benefits if injured while at work.