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Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

If I File a Claim Under the Jones Act, What Paperwork Will I Need?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on May 29, 2009 at 6:00 AM

If you are injured while working on a maritime vessel or for that vessel and are injured even while on land, such as on a dock or in a harbor, you are likely going to be eligible to file a claim under the statues of the Federal Jones Act. The Jones Act is a maritime law or admiralty law which protects maritime workers and seamen. However, there are some important things to remember when it comes time to handling all the paperwork and processing of putting through a Jones act claim.

First of all, let’s cover what you don’t need. What you don’t want to do – ever – is to sign a document that the company puts in front of you immediately after you’ve been injured. In many cases this is what happens, and the company throws paper at their injured worker and before they know it, they may have signed away any rights they had to make a claim under the Jones act. This needs to be avoided at all costs, and is why you should always consult a lawyer who specializes in Maritime Law before you sign anything the company puts in front of you.

What you will need in terms of paperwork is medical records. Your attorney can handle the rest, and sometimes can handle getting copies of your medical records as well, but it is vital that you obtain as detailed copies of all relevant medical information as possible. This means much more than just a doctor’s note, and includes things like X-rays, lab results and the results of any scans or tests which are done that prove the extent of your injuries, as well as the costs being incurred for medical treatments. You are going to need to make sure that your lawyer receives a copy of all of this documentation, and you should also try and keep copies for your own records in case you run into any discrepancies down the road.

What, exactly, is the Jones Act?

In Jones Act History on May 27, 2009 at 8:05 AM

If you work in any maritime profession, on board a ship or on an oil platform then there is a good chance that you’ve heard the term the “Jones Act”, but might be slightly unsure as to what that refers to. Sometimes the Jones Act is referred to as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, as it was originally called, but is usually just referred to as the Jones Act. It is important to note that this is a federal law that applies to any state that you might be working on a sea born vessel in.

The Jones Act exists to ensure that there is a system of compensation in place in the case of an injury to a sailor or other maritime employee. This is similar to the systems that are in place for workers compensation in other jobs, however, the Jones Act is Federal rather than State Based, and is actually quite complex compared to regular workers compensation laws. Also, it is important to realize that settlements reached under the Jones Act have the potential to be much larger than other settlements in the case of worker injury in non sea related fields, something which makes companies often struggle very severely to avoid having to make a payout under the act.

The Jones Act may pay out what is known as both maintenance and cure benefits. This means that it may cover the medical expenses that a worker incurs as a result of their on the job injury, and will also make payments in order to cover their normal living expenses. These expenses need to be carefully proven and documented, and that need coupled with the complexity of the act itself makes it highly advisable for anyone making a Jones Act claim to hire a lawyer who specializes in Maritime Law before filing any kind of initial claim.  

Can I Represent Myself Under the Jones Act?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on May 20, 2009 at 12:28 PM

If you are hurt during your employment on any water going vessel, your rights are protected under the Jones Act. Most feel that it is most wise to retain the services of an attorney when dealing with a case that falls under the Jones Act; however, some individuals would rather attempt to represent themselves – and that is perfectly fine, as long as you know full well what they are getting themselves into.

You see, the Jones Act entitles maritime workers to a specific set of rights by law; rights that normal Workers’ Comp laws either do not cover at all, or do not cover to a degree that is fit for a maritime worker. With these specific laws, there are also specific procedures and time frames that must be met in order for a claim to be valid. For instance, if there is not enough clear evidence, your case will likely be denied. Therefore, although it is completely possible for an individual to represent themselves under the Jones Act, it usually does not return the results that one might expect.

The number one reason that individuals choose to represent themselves is to attempt to retain the cash amount that the attorney would have received, which is usually between 10 – 20% of the settlement amount. What some individuals do not realize is that, without an attorney, the amount of the settlement will likely be much less. This is because an attorney who has represented individuals in such cases before will know exactly what expenses or monetary compensation you should be entitled to receive. Many individuals that choose to represent themselves do not realize the many different things that can be included in such a suit and, if they do, it’s likely that they do not know how much they can actually ask to be compensated for.

So, if you are a maritime worker who has been injured while performing your maritime tasks and you are thinking about representing yourself, take the time to review the law and make sure that you fully understand it before you attempt to take on such a feat without the help of an attorney.

How Does the Jones Act Protect Me?

In Jones Act Law on May 18, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Many individuals support their families with the money that they make working on the rivers, lakes, oceans, and bays within our country. Obviously, a job on any waterway can be a dangerous one. It doesn’t matter if you are a captain, deckhand, fisherman, or cook – a job on a boat has its downfalls. Slippery decks cause several injuries; however, negligence of other crew members is one of the more common causes of injury on the water.

There is a reason for every law and the Jones Act is no different. Had it not been for the courts refusing to recognize the rights of maritime workers and dig further into the cases that they attempted to file against negligent employers, the Jones Act would not exist.

Think about it. How many vessel owners think that they can get “one more trip” out of their boat before they have to make that repair? The Jones Act protects maritime workers from employers like this. It was created in order to allow injured maritime workers the opportunity to file suit against their employer when an injury has been sustained due to negligence on behalf of a crew member, captain, or vessel owner (employer) himself. The Jones Act also enables family members of deceased maritime workers to file suit if it is suspected that negligence was involved in, and ultimately caused, the death of their loved one.

The Jones Act does have some similarities when compared to Workers’ Compensation laws; however, there are very specific differences between the two. For instance, the Jones Act governs maritime workers only. In fact, with the Jones Act, workers are usually entitled to much more than what Workers’ Comp laws would provide to an injured worker. With the Jones Act, maritime workers are able to be compensated for their injury, their time off of work, and their medical bills – even future medical bills that occur due to this single injury. Of course, speaking with an attorney who specializes in this area would be your wisest decision if you are an injured maritime worker.

Top 5 Pirate Regions in the World Today

In Jones Act Law, Maritime, Pirates on May 4, 2009 at 2:33 PM

People have for years had a romanticized and fantasized version of piracy floating around their heads due to a number of literary and film sources. However, recent events have brought pirates back into sharp focus, and shown that there are a number of places in the world where piracy is a very real and very dangerous issue. Although the US navy and coast-guard has all but eradicated piracy around the United States and in the Caribbean, these five locations all have very real threats to ocean vessels posed by pirates in the region.

  1. Somalia – Somali pirate attacks have been in the news a very large amount in the last year, and the region is extremely dangerous for foreign ships currently. The problem is so severe that there have been cases of multiple pirate attacks taking place in a single day.

  1. The Strait of Malacca – A strait of water which is patrolled by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Although attacks have decreased, it is still a piracy hotbed. The amount of trade traffic and the locations for hiding a vessel make it ideal for piracy.

  1. Yemen – On the Asian side of the water that separates Africa from Asia, Yemen faces Somalia and Ethiopia and is subject to attacks by the same pirates.

  1. West Coast of Africa – Although there have been many less attacks here than on the east coast, there have still been reported attacks off the coasts of Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, and Ghana.

  1. South America – Although a vast majority of attacks take place in the regions already mentioned, there have been some attacks in the last year in various coastal waters around the northern countries of South America. Waters belonging to countries like Venezuela, Peru, and Columbia have all seen pirate attacks within the last year.

References:

http://www.icc-ccs.org/index.php?option=com_fabrik&view=visualization&controller=visualization.googlemap&Itemid=219

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy#Modern_age