Jones Act Maritime Injuries Attorneys In Houston | Take That To Trial
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Call a Jones Act Maritime Injuries Lawyer in Houston
The Jones Act was established in 1920 and revised in 2016. It is a federal statute for the United States, which governs the various laws and regulations for U.S. waters and ports. With the Jones Act, a way was established to protect seamen in various ways that land-based laws cannot provide. This is intended to protect the shipping industry, as well as the growth of commerce.
For those who work on or around maritime vessels in Houston, they often find their work rewarding, even though it can be dangerous. There are times when the dangers of the job can result in significant injuries that can force you away from work. However, if the accidents are a result of someone else's negligence, you stand a chance of pursuing a compensation claim to recover any loss you may have suffered.
For this reason, you should reach out to an attorney as quickly as possible. The faster you fight for compensation, the higher your chances of winning the case. Our attorneys at Take That To Trial will listen to you and answer any questions you may have. You can schedule a free consultation with our top attorneys in Houston. To know more, call us now at Take That To Trial!
The Rights of Maritime Workers
There are rights and legal options that are afforded to maritime workers. This is especially true after being injured on the job. There are generally two types of maritime workers: those who work on water and those who satisfy the legal definition of seamen.
A seaman spends a considerable amount of time on the vessel. They also contribute to the work of the vessel as a member of a vessel’s crew or captain. Spending a significant amount of time promotes litigation. Oftentimes, to qualify as a seaman, more than 30% of an employee’s total employment time should be spent on the vessel. This is also the case for a company that owns multiple vessels, on the employer’s fleet of vessels.
Under state and federal laws, seamen are not afforded the possibility of workers’ compensation benefits, unlike their non-maritime peers. Rather, a seaman can fight for other remedies such as filing a lawsuit against their employer in court under the Jones Act for the injuries they may have sustained during work.
Furthermore, a seaman is afforded the chance to fight for damages against the owner of the vessel on which he was injured. They can also receive maintenance and cure. For this reason, it is imperative to reach out to a maritime law firm in Houston to explore all possible legal options.
The importance of a knowledgeable Jones Act Maritime injury attorney cannot be stressed enough. After all, they know how to dig in deep and reveal every aspect of your case. Our competent Jones Act maritime lawyers at Take That To Trial are also well-versed in the Jones Act.
The Relevance of The Jones Act
The Jones Act offers seamen critical protection as they perform their job duties. This can help in presenting different hazards. It is worth noting that the terms "seaman" and "seamen" are adopted under the Jones Act. This will help in identifying a covered worker, irrespective of the worker's gender identity.
Under the Jones Act, there are two major kinds of claims that are available to an injured seaman under the Jones Act. These are explained as follows:
A maintenance and cure claim
This claim provides seamen with compensation for their daily expenses (also regarded as maintenance), as well as their relevant medical expenses (also known as a cure). This is especially true after a work-related injury.
Under the Jones Act, an injured seaman is often automatically entitled to maintenance and cure. This is true irrespective of the cause of the injury, and whether the negligence of another party played a part in it. A negligence claim against the employer ensures that an injured seaman can recover for a wide range of accident-related losses. However, the employer should be responsible for some level of fault.
Definition of the Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law that gives a seaman the right to sue his employer. This also enforces maritime employers to provide seamen with a safe condition to work. They should also make use of ordinary care to maintain and keep the vessel on which the seaman works in a reasonably safe condition.
An injured seaman must prove a much lower legal burden to recover damages under the Jones Act. For this reason, an injured seaman only needs to demonstrate that the negligence of the employer, regardless of the size, played a part in the seaman's injuries.
Be that as it may, those who do not satisfy the definition of “seaman,” are not entitled to recovery under the Jones Act. Instead, it is important for other classes of maritime workers to bring their claims for maritime injuries, as determined by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
This federal statute governs those maritime employees who work on or near the water. However, it does not govern employees who do not meet the definition of “seaman”. Under the Longshore Act, recovery is more akin to workers’ compensation. However, this is true at a slightly higher rate.
Definition of Negligence Under the Jones Act
Certain requirements must be satisfied by a seaman's employer under the Jones Act:
They should provide the seaman with a reasonably safe place to work
They should make use of proper care to maintain the vessel on which the seaman works while keeping it in a reasonably safe condition.
It should be stressed that a maritime employer can be held by the seaman under the Jones Act for the negligence of any of its workers. These include the seaman's captain and fellow crew members. To promote the possibility of a successful negligence-based claim while recovering additional compensation based on the Jones Act, the injured seaman must usually prove the following:
The owner, captain, and/or a crew member of the vessel that the seaman worked on was somehow negligent
The negligence caused the seaman's injury.
You should also note that The Jones Act does not provide perks to seamen who were injured without someone else's fault. For example, if you are intoxicated while working aboard a vessel and you engage in an accident, then establishing liability against another party may become too difficult. After all, you got injured due to your actions. However, you are protected by law if the employer's action contributed to your Injury. Common examples of employer negligence include:
Not performing regular check-ups on equipment and parts
Lack of proper safety training before allowing seamen to perform duties
Not making sure that warning signs are placed in hazardous areas
Not repairing malfunctioning equipment and parts
Failure to provide workers with the proper safety gear
Not making sure that vessel decks contain no-skid surfaces
Not providing a seaworthy vessel
Damages Covered Under The Jones Act
Under the Jones Act, compensation is covered in three sections: loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. Sometimes, based on certain factors, punitive damages may also apply.
Loss of Earnings
When an employee loses their present and future earning capacity, then they can seek compensation for these damages. This also includes the possibility of occupational advancements, pay raises, vacation time, and pensions. Determining current lost earnings can be relatively easy. However, lots of details must be put into consideration when estimating future lost earnings. This makes it more complex to figure out.
Usually, future lost earnings entail an economic expert estimating the future cost of living expenses. They will also figure out what the average pay would be for the employee in the future. This includes any possible promotions that would have been available if not for the injury.
Injured seamen often require medical assistance. Depending on the severity of the injury, the medical bills can be challenging for some. When the injury is caused by someone else's negligence, the Jones Act requires that injured seamen are covered for both present medical expenses and anticipated future medical expenses.
Depending on the seriousness of the injury, this may include X-rays, examinations, medication, doctor's appointments, rehabilitation, physical therapy, counseling, surgery, specialized equipment, mental health treatment, and many more.
Pain and Suffering
Jones act maritime injuries are often followed by pain and suffering. Under the Jones Act, these entail both physical pain and mental anguish. It has been shown, according to statistics, that most people who undergo amputation or some other life-altering accidents, particularly due to a traumatic accident, are more likely to experience extreme mental anguish and emotional distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are no set guidelines that govern the amount of money that a seaman is entitled to for the pain and suffering they experience. Many factors will be considered when you wish to figure out the compensation amount. These include the severity of the injuries, the physical pain involved, and the extent of the emotional distress that resulted from the injury.
While the aforementioned compensations are often considered for the experience that a victim suffers, injured seamen may seek punitive damages as a form of punishment for the negligence of the guilty party. According to the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, it is stated that punitive damages are allowed in Jones Act cases if employers were found to willfully and recklessly break their duty of care in providing a seaworthy vessel to employees.
To seek these punitive damages, injured seamen must be able to prove that there was reckless disregard for the safety of employees. For instance, it is possible that some employers neglected to maintain the working condition of equipment or tools, or simply did not repair them due to the fact that a mechanic who had been called by the employer failed to show up. In this case, this is not willful recklessness. Be that as it may, if the employer discovered that the repair was neglected and allowed workers to make use of unsafe equipment, they may be liable for punitive damages.
What to do After a Jones Act Maritime Injury
If you are a victim of a Jones Act Maritime injury, which is caused by someone else, then you can pursue a compensation claim. Typically, this includes taking some important steps, some of which are introduced as follows:
Reporting the Injury
If you suffer an injury while at work, the first step to take is to report the injury to the captain, shipmaster, or other supervisors as quickly as possible.
It is worth noting that Jones Act insurers do not like cases, which involve accidents that are not reported instantly. They assume that when you are hurt enough, you will report the accident immediately. For this reason, don't waste time reporting any accident.
Additionally, if you are a merchant mariner, your company will likely ask you to fill out an accident report. Ensure that you sool to the best of your knowledge if you are able to do so. Most accident report forms contain a section that covers fault for the incident. You should indicate that your company was at fault for your injuries. If not, you may your hurt case when you eventually file a lawsuit in court.
It's fine if you don't feel comfortable revealing the fault of your company. In that case, you should state that you are not immediately sure who was at fault.
Don't give any statement to your employer (or any Insurer)
Immediately after you are involved in an accident, your employer or the insurer may wish to get you to give a recorded or written statement. Ensure that you do all you can to leave the ship without giving the insurer any statement. You can keep your statement or comment as simple as possible. This could include something like: "I'm not ready to give a statement right now, maybe later."
Get medical assistance
If you get injured, there is a great need to get medical treatment. Your health and well-being are the priority. There are certain injuries that may not manifest instantly but may take a while to start becoming apparent. For this reason, you should reach out to a doctor as fast as possible to have yourself evaluated. This will prevent further complications. Some steps to take include:
Visit your own doctor
Follow all of the doctor's orders
Do not miss any appointments.
Furthermore, having a medical report is very important since it plays a significant role in your claim. Medical reports and bills offer irrefutable evidence of the severity of your injury. This can boost your negotiation power.
Hiring a Lawyer for a Jones Act Claim
Even though you are not obligated to employ a Jones Act lawyer, hiring one will significantly boost your chances of winning your Jones Act claim. A top lawyer understands how the entire legal process works. You need to discuss your situation with a top attorney if:
You are having trouble getting medical treatment
The insurer isn't paying your maintenance and cure
Your employer or the insurance company is bullying you into making a statement
It seems like the potential settlement value of your injury case might be more than around $20,000, or
You are just not certain you can handle the matter yourself and come away with the best result.
You should reach out to our competent attorneys at Take That To Trial. You can schedule a free consultation with our lawyers. We will listen to you and provide you with different legal options to explore. We also have the resources to help you carry out further investigations. This will enable us to gather more evidence to support your compensation claim.
We have the experience and knowledge to handle your Jones Act Maritime injury case. You can schedule a free consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options. We are available at all times and we guide you on how to make the best informed decisions.
Should I File a Lawsuit or Settle a Jones Act Claim?
Just like all injury-related cases, you should act as fast as possible to explore all your legal options. After all, there is a time limit, beyond which a compensation claim cannot be pursued, as defined by the statute of limitations. Yet, it is worth noting that your health is the priority. For this reason, you should allow your lawyer to work for you and represent your interest.
It is also important that you carefully evaluate all the damages - including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more - before you begin the negotiation process. Allow your lawyer to assume the responsibility of negotiation on your behalf. Ensure that you don't accept the first offer that the at-fault party's insurance company offers you. That is usually the lowest value they can present to you.
If it proves difficult to reach an agreement, then your best course of action is to file a lawsuit in court against the guilty party. Ensure that the statute of limitations does not expire before you file a lawsuit. The availability of irrefutable evidence should also help you strengthen your case.
Reach Out to a Jones Act Maritime Injuries Attorney at Take That To Trial
Have you been injured, it is imperative to understand all your legal options. This will help you make the best decisions possible. If someone else is responsible for your Jones Act Maritime injuries, it is important you establish liability against the person.
Sometimes, the burden of recovering from nasty injuries at duty can be very difficult to handle on your own. For this reason, seeking compensation can help you ease the process. First, seeking medical attention should be the priority. This will prevent further complications and the medical reports can act as evidence you need to build a case against the liable party.
Yet, the best way to go about this is to hire our competent attorneys at Take That To Trial. We are an award-winning law firm that has handled many similar cases in the past. We have won millions of dollars for our injured clients over the years. We have the resources needed to take the fight to big organizations.
You can schedule a free consultation with our attorneys. We will guide you through the entire legal process and all you need to do to pursue a compensation claim. We understand the emotional distress your injury may have caused you. For this reason, we are available at all times. We will provide you with constant updates on any development in your case.
We also help you conduct thorough investigations to gather irrefutable evidence that can help you build your case. We have all the resources to make this possible. We have the right Jones Act Maritime injury attorneys with over 20 years of legal experience.
We are licensed with the State Bar of Texas, U.S. Southern and Eastern District Courts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. We work on a contingency-fee basis. This implies that you only pay us when we have won your compensation claim for you. We have the experience and knowledge to help you achieve that.
You can reach us at all times via:
Ph: (832) 770-6100
Fax: (832) 426-5798
You can visit us at 1401 Cleburne St,
Houston, Texas 77004
We are eager to hear from you!