As Louisiana is situated along the Gulf Coast, maritime law plays a significant role in the state’s legal system. Maritime workers, including seamen, crewmen, commercial fishermen, and offshore oil rig workers, face unique challenges and hazards in their line of work. When accidents and injuries occur, these workers need an experienced and knowledgeable maritime lawyer to guide them through the complex legal process and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.
Cueria Law Firm LLC, has over 30 years of experience handling maritime law cases, specializes in representing injured maritime workers and their families throughout Louisiana. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key aspects of maritime law in Louisiana, including the Jones Act, Maintenance and Cure claims, Unseaworthiness claims, and how a skilled maritime lawyer can help you navigate these issues.
Maritime Law in Louisiana: The Basics
The Jones Act
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law designed to protect seamen and other maritime workers who suffer injuries or illnesses due to negligence or unseaworthiness of a vessel operating in navigable waters. Under the Jones Act, injured maritime workers can seek compensation through a maritime lawsuit in federal court.
Maintenance and Cure Claims
Maritime workers who become injured or ill during their employment are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits, regardless of fault. Maintenance refers to the daily living expenses of an injured worker for each day they are unable to work, while cure covers the medical costs until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Shipowners and operators have a legal obligation to provide a seaworthy vessel, meaning that it must be safe for transporting passengers and crew, have adequate safety measures, and have enough crew members to handle the mission. If a vessel’s unseaworthy conditions result in an injury, the owner and operator may be held strictly liable, without needing to prove negligence.
Identifying a Jones Act Seaman
To qualify as a seaman under the Jones Act, a worker must meet three requirements:
- Contribute to the work of a vessel
- Have an employment connection to the vessel that is substantial in duration and nature
- The vessel must be in navigation
Vessels include watercraft, artificial contrivances, floating cleaning barges, mobile drilling platforms, and floating production storage and offloading units (FPSOs).
Duties Owed by Employers under the Jones Act
Under the Jones Act, employers have a general duty to provide a reasonably safe place to work and reasonably safe tools and equipment. While they are not required to guarantee the safety of seamen, they are liable for any injury arising from the negligence of officers, agents, or employees, or due to defects or insufficiency of equipment.
Maintenance, Cure, and Unearned Wages
If a maritime worker becomes injured or ill during employment, they are entitled to maintenance, cure, and unearned wages, which cover the following:
- Maintenance: Reasonable expenses for room and board while ashore until the worker is fit for duty or reaches MMI
- Cure: Reasonable medical expenses incurred by the worker for treatment until fit for duty or MMI is reached
- Unearned Wages: Wages the worker would have received if they had not become sick or injured, up to the end of their employment period or season
Unseaworthiness Claims under the Jones Act
Unseaworthiness claims can arise from a wide range of negligent conduct, such as:
- Inadequate number of crew members
- Untrained or incompetent crew or captain
- Improperly stowed cargo
- Lack of appropriate safety guards or rails
- Lack of mandatory fire suppression devices
- Unsafe living areas
- Lack of proper elevators or hoists
How a Maritime Lawyer Can Help
The skilled maritime lawyers of Cueria Law Firm LLC can guide injured maritime workers through the complex legal process, ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. They can:
- Investigate the case thoroughly, identifying negligence or unseaworthiness
- Help the worker file a Jones Act claim or lawsuit against the responsible party
- Negotiate settlements on the worker’s behalf or litigate the case in court, if necessary
- Obtain maintenance and cure benefits and additional damages when applicable
What to Do If You Are Injured
If you are injured while working in a maritime capacity, it is crucial to take the following steps:
- Report the injury to your employer
- Take photographs of the accident scene
- Seek medical attention
- Obtain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses
- Consult an experienced maritime lawyer, like Brent Cueria, before signing any documents or waivers
Cueria Law Firm LLC: Your Trusted Maritime Lawyer in Louisiana
With over 30 years of experience, Brent Cueria and the team at Cueria Law Firm LLC are dedicated to representing injured maritime workers and their families in Louisiana. They have a proven track record of achieving successful settlements and jury verdicts for their clients, ensuring they receive the compensation they need and deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured while working offshore, contact Cueria Law Firm LLC for a free consultation and let their experienced maritime lawyers fight for your rights. Don’t wait, as important legal deadlines may be approaching. Reach out to them today to discuss your case and begin the path to recovery.