The Lambert Firm has a dedicated team of maritime lawyers that represent clients who have been injured or economically harmed in the course of their maritime related work. Hugh Lambert has successfully represented clients with maritime injury claims for over 40 years and has seen about all there is to see in the maritime world.
Below are some of the most frequently asked maritime accident questions we receive. Whether you end up hiring a lawyer or not, the best thing you can do is get information and answers to your questions so you can make an informed decision on what to do next.
Jones Act Seamen can sue their employer for work-related injuries caused by the employer’s negligence. Qualifying as a Jones Act Seaman can greatly increase your rights to recovery of damages for an injury related to your maritime employment. To qualify as a seaman under the Jones act, a worker must:
- Have a substantial connection to a fleet or vessel considerable in duration and nature,
- Be employed on vessel “in navigation,” and
- Contribute to the vessel’s function or mission.
Sometimes it’s not obvious whether or not you’re a Jones Act Seaman. Some common examples of workers that may not know that they might have rights as a Jones Act Seaman are crew-members of crane barges on the river, cover-stackers, offshore drill who are often assigned to drillships or drilling barges, workers on offshore derrick barges, and many others. If you’re not sure whether or not you qualify as a Jones Act Seaman, call or e-mail us.
Maritime workers who are Jones Act Seamen can recover the following damages:
- Maintenance & Cure
- Lost Wages (past and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death benefits
- Reimbursement for Medical Expenses
- Future Medical Care
When an offshore worker becomes ill or is injured while in service of a vessel, the employer is responsible for certain expenses to the worker. Expenses covered under maintenance and cure includes daily living expenses and medical expenses.
Almost all offshore workers who are injured or become ill during service are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits. Only when a pre-employment medical examination is performed and the employee lies about pre-existing conditions may the employer reasonably contest these benefits. Even then, unless the preexisting condition caused the illness or injuries, many times employers are still required to pay maintenance and cure benefits.
Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. You can’t always do that without the company knowing about it, especially if you’re on a rig or vessel, so here are some tips to follow if you can’t speak with a lawyer or just aren’t yet comfortable talking to one:
- Tip 1: Talk to a doctor you trust (not the one the company sends you to).
- Tip 2: Complete an incident report (but don’t sign the one that the safety man types up and tells you to sign – make sure you write what happened from your perspective, not the company’s)
- Tip 3: Take pictures, if you can.
- Tip 4: Get names and phone numbers of witnesses.
- Tip 5: Be honest with yourself about how hurt you are and don’t go back to work before you’re ready.
Whether you are a seaman or a longshoreman, and whether it was your fault or someone else’s, you have rights as a maritime worker. Here are the main ones:
- The right to see a doctor of your choosing.
- The right to be reimbursed for medical treatment related to your injury or illness, including transportation to and from the medical provider.
- The right to receive certain monetary benefits, maintenance for seamen (usually about $40 per day) or comp benefits for longshoremen (usually 2/3 of your weekly wages).
- The right to both medical and economic benefits listed above at least until you reach maximum medical improvement or “MMI.”
- The right to talk to an experienced maritime lawyer, like those at The Lambert Firm, even if you just want answers to questions like these.
Helicopters are generally a safe and efficient means of transportation. However, accidents do happen. Failure to properly plan flights or adequately maintain helipads and aircraft may result in injury-causing incidents. Sometimes mechanical issues from design or manufacturing defects are responsible for helicopter accidents as well. The Lambert Firm is skilled and knowledgeable to represent pilots and/or passengers injured in helicopter incidents. Hugh Lambert has been an IFR rated pilot for much of his legal career and is experienced in determining the cause of helicopter incidents, whether from maintenance, negligence, or defective components of the aircraft.
If a seaman qualifies for maintenance and cure benefits, the employer is obligated to pay these benefits until the seaman reaches Maximum Medical Improvement, or MMI. MMI is the point at which a seaman’s condition cannot be improved any further. This doesn’t necessarily mean the seaman is fully recovered and ready to return to work — it merely means that no further treatments or procedures will improve their condition.
So what happens when the company doctor states the injured seaman has achieved MMI but their opinion does not agree with the seaman’s personal physician (or any medical professional with similar expertise)? MMI is a medical determination, not a legal one. Even if the company doctor is of the opinion that the seaman has reached MMI, the seaman still has the right to see a doctor of their own choosing. The courts have little sympathy for an employer who is “arbitrary and capricious” or “willful or callous” in delaying, denying or terminating maintenance and cure benefits to their employees.
The Lambert Firm has the knowledge and experience in offshore injuries and maritime accidents to answer all of your questions. Contact New Orleans maritime injury lawyers for a free consultation and review of your claim.