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Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Will My Family Be Entitled to Adequate Benefits if I Am Injured or Killed While Working at Sea?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation, LHWCA, Maritime on June 26, 2009 at 7:46 PM

The Jones Act, with help from the Longshoremen’s and Harbors’ Workers Compensation Act, helps bring financial security to dependents of seamen who lose their life at sea.  This compensation extends to any dependants on that income and has been mandated to meet the needs of a seaman’s spouse, children, and family.  Due to the high risks and life threatening environment these workers find themselves in on a daily basis, you can see the need for some form of legal protection over these matters.

Knowing what your rights are and getting the most compensation in the tragic event of losing a loved one at sea is something everyone should be entitled to.  The federal law recognizes this, even if sometimes an employer doesn’t.  If you are dependent on someone that is risking their life every time they go to work, you need to know that, if something were to happen, you are going to be taken care of after the grieving is over.

The system is basically designed to give percentages of your weekly wages to qualifying, dependant family members.  The death benefits that surround maritime law are not the most amazing compensation; however, the employers are required to compensate until the family member in question can achieve financial independence, be remarried, or turn 18.  There is even a $3000 dollar funeral expense that is covered under maritime law.

A surviving spouse is eligible to receive half of the weekly wage earned by the seaman.  If there are children involved, then this compensation obviously increases.  This is worked out by compensating the surviving dependants with half of the seaman’s weekly wage.  If you have more than one child you are eligible to get 2/3s the weekly income.  This will be paid until the child, or children, turn 18.  There are specific circumstances that see this get extended, but is normally on a case by case basis.

How Long Do I Have to File a Jones Act Claim?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on June 24, 2009 at 7:50 AM

When people are injured on the job, it instantly opens up a very large can of legal worms that can sometimes be very difficult to sort through. There can be a lot of conflicting information being thrown your way. People will be telling you about their experiences or what happened to a friend or family member, you will hear things on television and the company you work for will be trying to push forms in front of you to sign. Because of this, it can sometimes make it difficult to know who is telling the truth. However, it is important that you stop the confusion by speaking with an attorney that is aware of the laws governing your situation.

You may end up feeling a little overwhelmed with the legal terminology that is being presented to them by your lawyers and your employers, there is also the insidious nature of some injuries, wherein a small incident can actually cause a chronic and long lasting problem, or one that increases in severity of its own accord over time. When workers who were working on a seagoing vessel are injured in this fashion, one of the questions they sometimes ask themselves is how long they have to file a Jones Act claim. Especially if it has been some time since their initial accident when the injury truly begins to affect their life, this can be something they wonder about. The Jones Act does cover almost all people injured at sea; however, it is a complicated legal area, making this a very natural question.

The statute of limitations on a Jones Act case is actually three years. This means that you have up to three years from the date of your injury to file a Jones Act claim. A Jones Act lawyer can better counsel you on the specifics of how this works, but the message here is that you shouldn’t let your employers pressure you into signing anything or agreeing to anything because they insinuate that time is running out. You have plenty of time to file your Jones Act case, so do not allow that to be used as means to leverage you into signing something that you don’t have to.

Sexual Assaults, or Worse, on Cruise Ships

In Maritime on June 22, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Newspapers, television and the Internet are reporting a number of assaults, injuries and deaths on cruise ships. Cruises are advertised as exciting and glitzy but nothing is said about the crimes that are committed on-board. Many cruise liners have larger populations than small cities and every form of crime and neglect can exist on even the best cruise lines. There have been recent reports of murder and rape along with assault, burglary and theft. When you think of a cruise, you think of the slick television ads instead of a reality that includes a mixture of different types of people from all over the world. Passengers and crew are thrown together in cramped quarters and often mix together on-board and on-shore. Cruise lines sometimes fail to properly investigate their employees’ records before hiring them and expose passengers to crew members with criminal backgrounds, usually from a country other than the United States.

Close quarters association with crew is a risk factor that must be taken into consideration in addition to the normal risk associated with binge drinking, drug experimentation and a party atmosphere. In addition to criminal behavior, there are on-board accidents such as falling overboard due to inadequately designed railings, slipping on wet decks, being hit by falling objects, food poisoning, being thrown about in rough seas due to the negligence of the captain and every conceivable type of injury common to people on land.

In the news recently, a cruise ship was alerted to a passenger overboard, but delayed action, resulting in the passenger’s death. In another case a young man barely twenty-one years old, on vacation with his friends, had too much to drink and fell overboard while leaning over the railing because he was sick. The event was captured by a ship surveillance camera. Cruise ships are promoted as the place to “party.” Cruise ships heavily promote the sale of liquor to passengers and do not effectively monitor or police underage passengers who bring alcohol on board, especially in foreign ports.

Injuries also occur when passengers leave the ship to visit ports of call. Cruise ships arrange and promote tours, trips, scuba, fishing and other activities and sometimes they do not check out or monitor the safety of these companies that provide the services the cruise ship sells to the passengers.

It is important passengers do the research on various cruise ship lines before making a choice. Internet searches can produce many incidents that point out the risk and danger involved in cruise ship vacations. No one should should take safety for granted just because they are passengers on an American cruise ship line. Most “American” cruise lines are not American at all. Most cruise lines are foreign companies with vessels flying flags of convenience.

Are Dock Workers Protected Under the Jones Act?

In Jones Act Law on June 22, 2009 at 7:48 AM

The question of whether or not Dock Workers are protected under the Jones act is a complicated question of maritime law that usually has to be sorted out by a qualified maritime lawyer in order to become clear, however, there is a general guideline that can help you understand whether or not you should be looking to pursue a Jones Act case. You see, the interesting thing to remember is that, in either case, you will be covered under one element or another of maritime law. Because of this fact, seeking out a maritime lawyer is always going to be a good idea if you are injured while working on a dock.

The exact law may be more complicated than this, but here is a good guideline for establishing eligibility under the Jones Act. If you are working on a dock but are employed by a sea going vessel, even while working on the dock or in port, should you become injured, there is a good chance that you are going to be able to make a claim under the Jones Act. On the other hand, longshore and harbor workers who are actually not employed by the vessel are not covered under the Jones Act. Instead, there is a different law which protects them which is called the Longshore Harbor Worker’s Compensation At.

Whichever of these situations applies to you, the important thing is going to be to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in maritime law to see where your particular case fits in, and how to best proceed with filing a claim and getting compensation. Remember, dockworkers and ship workers both need to follow some basic advice while injured on the job, one of the most important pieces of that advice being not to sign anything that your company puts in front of you until you consult with the attorney that will be handling your case.

My Boss Told Me That if I File a Claim, I’ll Lose My Job

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on June 20, 2009 at 7:46 AM

Unfortunately, after the unfortunate circumstances of getting injured on the job, you are not likely to receive a lot of support from your employer. It can become very clear, very quickly, that they are in fact a company and, even if you get along well with a manager or immediate superior, if you are injured, the situation will quickly become a case of the company as an entity trying to protect their assets. That usually means hanging you out to dry.

As soon as a company has an employee at sea injured who would be covered under the Jones Act, the first thing they do is tell their lawyers. Those lawyers are immediately going to want to do two things: 1.) talk to you, and 2.) have you sign certain documents. These discussions and forms will often be used by the company’s attorneys in order to try entrapping you into a lie if your story varies even a tiny bit at some time in the future. They can sometimes even be up to worse things than that with the statements and documents they are requesting from you, such as signing away any responsibility of the company whatsoever. The most important thing you can do is to do absolutely nothing; not until you have talked to a Jones Act or maritime law lawyer.

If you refuse to give a statement or sign anything, you will quite often be threatened with termination. This, again, just emphasizes the need for you to get in contact with a lawyer. If they, at any time, threaten you with termination while trying to get you to perform any action after you have been injured on their sea going vessel, the best thing you can do is to refuse to have any further dialogues with them at all until you have an attorney present. That does mean ANY dialogue at all, because even the most innocuous sounding remark can be used against you in the future.

My Husband Died While Working On the River and I Believe Negligence Was Involved

In Jones Act History, Jones Act Law on June 18, 2009 at 7:44 AM

When someone dies while working on a boat or a ship of any kind, there are typically two laws which might apply. There is the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. The Death on the High Seas Act, however, would not apply to someone working on a River, so if, as an example, a woman’s husband were to die while working on a river, the law they would want to pursue would be the Jones Act, which also covers navigable waterways, such as large rivers. The Jones Act also covers injuries sustained while a vessel is docked and not just ships working more than three nautical miles out from shore like the Death on the High Seas Act.

Benefits from the Jones Act are not only payable to the person who is injured while on the vessel. If this were the case, there would be no recourse for the spouse of someone who was killed while working on a vessel, but the truth is that if someone does die while employed on a boat or ship, their spouse does retain the right to file a claim under the Jones Act.

When negligence is suspected in the case of the death of an employee of a boat or a ship, there are other statutes which also come into play, such as the General Maritime Law. Negligence is a very serious charge and, if true, can also entitle you to additional benefits; however, this is a very complicated area of the law. If you have reason to suspect negligence, or for that matter have any need to make a death claim regarding maritime law or the Jones Act, it is very important for you to hire a maritime lawyer or Jones Act specialist in order to ensure that you are treated fairly and that you actually receive the compensation that you are due.

What Type of Attorney Should I Seek to File My Claim?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on June 16, 2009 at 7:41 AM

When someone is injured at sea, they have the right to make a claim in order to receive benefits to help them compensate for the cost of their injury. Injuries that happen at sea are handled in a slightly different manner than injuries which happen while working for a regular company on dry land. If you are injured while working on an American vessel, you are in fact covered by the national law, “The Jones Act” which is designed to protect the safety and the livelihoods of American Seamen.

The Jones Act, a federal law which applies to all American vessels, is an incredibly convoluted and complicated portion of the law. It can at times be even considerably more complicated than the laws and claims which are covered under standard workers compensation laws. This is why a regular workers’ comp lawyer is generally not who you want to hire in order to make a Jones Act claim. Instead you should hire a lawyer who specializes in the Jones Act, or in maritime law, as they are going to be better prepared in order to ensure that you receive a fair compensation for your injuries.

Seeking a Jones Act attorney will give you the best chance possible to receive a fair payout for your injury. Payouts under the Jones Act can potentially be much higher than those which are paid under a regular workers compensation claim. However, the convoluted nature of these laws can make it very difficult for you to make a successful claim without the help of a qualified specialist attorney. If you are injured while at sea, please do yourself a favor and immediately seek out the assistance of a Jones Act attorney. It’s preferable if you can find one that can prove their experience with a proven track record of successful claims.

My boss wants me to sign this form…

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on June 14, 2009 at 7:40 AM

One of the most common reasons that people lose their chance to make a valid claim under the Jones Act is because they sign something after their injury without fully understanding what they may be signing.

This isn’t meant to insult anyone’s intelligence, it is merely meant to put things all in their proper perspective. After you are injured on the job while at sea, your employers are immediately going to see the possibility of a Jones Act claim being laid against them. While you likely do not have the services of a full time Jones act lawyer on your staff, as a company which employs several people at sea, it is a safe bet to ensure that your employers do. In fact, many larger shipping companies have entire legal departments, staffed with several experts in this area.

Many times, immediately after you are injured your employer and their lawyers are going to overwhelm you asking you to sign various documents, which may either state that the events occurred in a certain way or that waive certain portions, if not all, of your rights. It is always good advice to never sign legally binding documents without first having a lawyer review them, but this is doubly important in this type of a situation.

When you’re injured on the job, your ability to earn income and sustain your standard of living can be seriously in jeopardy unless you have a means of being paid fairly for an on the job injury. That is why you need to seek the services of a lawyer who specializes in Jones Act cases as soon as you can following your injury; especially if your company is trying to make you sign documents of any kind after the accident. The most basic and safest rule to follow whenever you sustain an injury on the job, whether on dry land or sea, is to never sign anything until you consult with a lawyer who specializes in your type of on the job injury.

What Type of Attorney Should I Seek to File My Claim?

In Jones Act Law, Legal Representation on June 11, 2009 at 6:36 PM

When someone is injured at sea, they have the right to make a claim in order to receive benefits to help them compensate for the cost of their injury. Injuries that happen at sea are handled in a slightly different manner than injuries which happen while working for a regular company on dry land. If you are injured while working on an American vessel, you are in fact covered by the national law, “The Jones Act” which is designed to protect the safety and the livelihoods of American Seamen.

The Jones Act, a federal law which applies to all American vessels, is an incredibly convoluted and complicated portion of the law. It can at times be even considerably more complicated than the laws and claims which are covered under standard workers compensation laws. This is why a regular workers’ comp lawyer is generally not who you want to hire in order to make a Jones Act claim. Instead you should hire a lawyer who specializes in the Jones Act, or in maritime law, as they are going to be better prepared in order to ensure that you receive a fair compensation for your injuries.

Seeking a Jones Act attorney will give you the best chance possible to receive a fair payout for your injury. Payouts under the Jones Act can potentially be much higher than those which are paid under a regular workers compensation claim. However, the convoluted nature of these laws can make it very difficult for you to make a successful claim without the help of a qualified specialist attorney. If you are injured while at sea, please do yourself a favor and immediately seek out the assistance of a Jones Act attorney. It’s preferable if you can find one that can prove their experience with a proven track record of successful claims.