Houston Jones Act Lawyer
The Jones Act was passed in the 1930s to provide medical and financial benefits for injured seamen often called maintenance and cure. If you work on a boat, barge, ship, fishing boat, cruise ship, charter boat, casino ship, or any type of vessel with the word “ship” or “boat” in it, or on an offshore drilling rig you are most likely covered under the provisions of the Jones Act. You may also be covered under the Act if you work near or on the water. If you’ve been injured in the course of your work, it’s important to protect your rights by speaking to a qualified and experienced Jones Act attorney. At Brian White & Associates, we are experienced in helping injured employees receive the best medial attention available and recover full compensation for their injuries.
A vessel owner has an absolute duty to maintain a seaworthy vessel. A “seaworthy” vessel is more than simply the fact it’s not in imminent danger of sinking. A vessel must be fit for its intended use, outfitted with appropriate equipment and safety gear, have a competent crew, and be a safe place to live and work. A ship or barge can be seaworthy when it leaves shore and can become unseaworthy because of dangerous situations that arise during a voyage. When a client is injured on a barge, a rig or other vessel, Brian White & Associates initiates a full investigation into the nature and circumstances of an injury to determine liability for the accident. Often when we file a Jones Act claim, we also will bring a claim that a vessel is not seaworthy.
Liability of Third Parties
Under certain circumstances, such as when a seaman’s injury is caused by an employee of an independent contractor aboard a vessel, it may be possible to pursue a cause of action against that independent contractor in addition to the Jones Act claim. A qualified attorney will help an injured seaman identify all possible sources of recovery.
What is Maintenance?
Under the Jones Act provision to provide maintenance the employer is obligated to pay a daily maintenance fee while you are out of work. This fee in the past has been as low as $8 a day. Contrary to what you might have been told, this fee is not fixed by law. Some employers pay an injured worker’s full paycheck. If you are injured and receiving on the low side of your daily maintenance fee, you’re probably concerned how you are going to live on it. So is Brian White. Call an experienced Jones Act attorney today and he will help you get the daily maintenance fee you need to live on.
What is Cure?
When you are injured on the job, your employer will typically refer you to company approved doctor. You are not obligated to see or accept the diagnosis of a company doctor. Under the Jones Act an injured seaman can see any physician for his care. Injured Jones Act employees have experienced that company approved doctors don’t always provide the full range of medical tests required for a comprehensive diagnosis. Your health may be at stake if you are rushed back to work, even in a temporary or reduced capacity position designed to accommodate your injury. It is not unheard of for an employer to eventually eliminate the reduced capacity position leaving the injured employee without work and without benefits. It’s not in your best interest to return to work until you are fully healed and capable. At Brian White & Associates, we will direct you to the some of the best physicians available who specialize in your injury. This is your right under the law. Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t your right. If you are not getting the best care available, call Brian White & Associates. We will give you the personal attention you need and deserve and advise you of all of your medical options and legal rights under maritime law.
Who is Liable for Your Maritime Injuries?
Unlike workers compensation law that provides benefits to injured workers regardless of fault, under the Jones Act, an injured worker must show that negligence on the part of his employer or a fellow crew member contributed to his injury to recover benefits. Your company may ask you to sign a release before giving you maintenance and medical benefits. It’s vital to your future ability to collect benefits to have all legal documents reviewed by a competent maritime attorney. It is in your best interests to protect your rights to a full recovery of compensation for your injury by contacting an experienced Jones Act lawyer before signing any documents or initiating a claim.
The Company Doctor
Under the Jones Act an injured worker is under no obligation to see a company designated doctor (see here). It’s usually in the best interest of an injured seaman to seek out professional medical care from a physician who is not in any way connected to an employer. Attorney Brian White & Associates can help you find the best medical care for your injury.
What’s a Fair Settlement?
There is a long list of factors that goes into a realistic settlement. Despite employees’ best intentions of trying to settle with an employer themselves, it may not always be to their advantage. Even if you’re dealing directly with your employer or human resources department, they are consulting their attorneys before speaking to you. They have their strategy all mapped out. They know the range of all the Jones Act settlements for your particular injury, with your skill level. There are significant future costs to consider when calculating a settlement figure, and whatever figure you give them, they will want to negotiate it down. Before you do anything rash that could affect your future health and earning capacity, talk to the experienced Jones Act attorney at the law office of Brian White. We will fight hard to get you the best settlement under the law that takes into account all of your present needs for medical attention, lost income, rehabilitation, retraining, future lost wages, and much more.
Ship Master’s Duty
If an injury was caused or contributed to by an unsafe condition aboard a vessel, then the injured party may be entitled to recovery under an unseaworthiness claim. A vessel owner is obligated to provide a seaworthy vessel to all who board his vessel. This includes maintaining the safety of the whole of the vessel and all its fixtures and fittings. Maintaining a safe environment includes adequately manning, equipping, and supplying the vessel. Proper manning involves the duty to provide a properly trained crew. The vessel must be supplied for the job requirements, and equipment must work in a safe manner. If any of these conditions do not exist and in some way contribute to your injury, you could file a negligence claim. There is a long list of possible events and oversights that often lead to unnecessary injury:
- Falling overboard
- Slippery decks
- Injured during boarding or leaving a rig or vessel
- Unseaworthy vessels or boats
- Shifting loads
- Falling and lifting injuries
Injuries resulting from these events are often preventable and the direct result of a negligent action. If you’ve been injured or a loved one has died as the result of an injury, call Brian White & Associates as soon as possible. We will assist you by fully informing you of your rights to recover damages and receive the best medical care available.
Aggressively Protecting Seamen’s Rights
Brian White aggressively works to protect any person working at sea. We specialize in Jones Act/Maritime Law injuries and have recovered significant awards for
- Rig and platform workers
- Jack-up rig workers and crews
- Tankers, freighters, and other ocean-going crews
- Off-shore platform workers
- Barge workers and crew
If you work on the sea or waterway as a regular part of your job, you are more than likely covered under Maritime Law. Call for us to discuss your injury and how we can help you secure the medical care and financial damages you deserve and need.
Free Consultation for Your Jones Act Claim
We never charge a fee until we win your case. Don’t compromise your rights to recover the compensation you need and deserve by waiting to act. We will listen to your concerns and answer your questions.