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Texas Personal Injury News

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Jones Act Compensates Qualified Seamen for Offshore Accident Injuries

Q: Are there special laws that cover workers who are injured at sea?

On land, employees who are injured on the job are prohibited from suing their employers for damages but may collect certain compensation for medical expenses and lost income through Worker's Compensation.

But employees injured in Off Shore accidents-- such as fisherman, tugboat workers, and others--are covered under maritime accident laws, and some worker’s claims may also fall within the protection of the Jones Act.

Maritime and Offshore Accident lawyers with Jones Act experience are able to help those workers who work on or near the water recover much more than their onshore counterparts in the event they are injured at sea.

The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, applies to qualified "seamen" who are injured or become sick while working at sea. Unlike Workers’ Compensation, it allows injured workers to sue their employers for injuries that resulted from the negligence of the captain, crew, or vessel owners.

Jones Act claims are very complex --not every worker meets the qualifications of a "seaman” – and they require representation by personal injury attorneys with particular experience in this niche of maritime law.

Damages recoverable may include economic and non-economic losses like past and future medical expenses, lost income, diminished or lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages, depending on the particular case.

Last year, a fatal tug accident occurred on the San Jacinto River just outside Houston, Texas. According to a National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) Marine Accident Brief on the incident, the “probable cause’ for the capsizing and sinking of the uninspected tug vessel with a relief captain at the helm  was his decision to perform an "ill-advised ‘downstreaming’ maneuver without implementing the operating company’s risk mitigation strategies or other safeguards" in high water. The capsizing and sinking of the vessel, which caused the death of one of the five crew members, was captured on video.

“Downstreaming” maneuvers--where towing vessels go down river to land on another object like a barge or dock--present a “significant risk” of "rapid down flooding, capsizing and sinking" during certain river conditions such as the high water.at the time of the accident near Houston. The Coast Guard had reportedly issued advisories-- which included restrictions on downstreaming-- that were in effect at the time of the accident.

If you have suffered offshore injuries while working on a shipping vessel, boat, barge, tanker, yacht, fishing boat, or offshore oil rig,– or if you’re a non-covered worker who received an offshore injury – – the experienced maritime attorneys at Chandler Mathis and Zivley can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 877-739-7744 to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in Lufkin and Houston, we've been serving clients throughout Texas and nationwide for over 40 years.

 


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Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC has offices located in Houston and Lufkin Texas and serves clients throughout East Texas as well as many other states.
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