If you were hurt on the job, you may be wondering, “does maritime law apply to oil and gas workers?” The answer to this question is yes. You do have rights under maritime law as an oil or gas worker. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical care, lost wages, and possibly other losses after an on-the-job injury.
However, which maritime laws apply could significantly impact your case. This could include what you need to prove your case and the types of damages or benefits you can recover. Therefore, you may want to work with a maritime law attorney to help you understand your rights and legal options.
How does the Jones Act Apply to Oil and Gas Workers?
Under 46 U.S. Code §30104, commonly known as the Jones Act, offshore workers may be able to recover a range of damages based on their injury or illness. However, they must first meet the criteria set by this law for being a “seaman.”
A part of this test to determine if a worker qualifies is that they must dedicate a substantial portion of their working hours – usually more than 30 percent – to offshore work. Most oil and gas workers exceed this minimum easily. This means they may be able to use the Jones Act to protect them and help them recover compensation.
You can get help understanding what the Jones Act does from a personal injury law firm that handles these claims. They can also determine which maritime laws apply to your case and your best options for recovering compensation.
When does the Jones Act Not Cover Oil and Gas Workers?
There is one major reason why some oil and gas workers do not qualify as seamen and do not receive the legal protections provided by the Jones Act. This applies to those who work onshore or on fixed oil platforms.
Vessels covered by the Jones Act must be navigable. They cannot be moored or permanently docked. A fixed oil platform is connected to the ocean floor permanently. If this applies to where you work most of the time, you may not meet the criteria for the Jones Act.
Just because you do not qualify as a Jones Act seaman does not mean you do not have legal rights, though. You may still have protection and be able to seek compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The LHWCA will likely apply if your oil or gas rig does not meet the Jones Act definition of a qualifying vessel. In this case, our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you fill out and file all the necessary paperwork to access your benefits.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
What Is the Difference Between the Jones Act and the LHWCA?
The Jones Act, the LHWCA, and general maritime law provide options for seeking compensation following a negligent injury or a claim of unseaworthiness. If you were working and suffered injuries, you should have a path to seek and recover benefits. The Jones Act and LHWCA provide additional causes of action and types of damages recoverable over general maritime law.
In general, the Jones Act provides a broader range of recoverable damages. However, there are drawbacks. These actions are insurance claims or civil lawsuits against your employer, the vessel owner, or another liable party. You can negotiate a settlement or take the case to a jury trial. This process can be lengthy, but you can recover the following:
- Medical care costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering damages
The LHWCA generally provides a quicker turn-around and functions much more similar to a traditional workers’ compensation case. The damages recoverable are usually limited to wage loss benefits and medical treatment coverage, unless there are permanent injuries or death, when additional benefits may be available.
How Can a Maritime Law Attorney Help Me with My Claim?
If you retain a maritime law attorney to help with your claim, they will provide insight and advice about:
- The maritime laws that apply in your case
- Investigating your case and gathering evidence to prove negligence
- Valuing your case based on the evidence collected
Under 46 U.S. Code §30106, you may have up to three years to file a Jones Act lawsuit. You could have even less time under other maritime laws. Therefore, you should get started as soon as your injuries allow.
Our Legal Team Provides Free Consultations to Injured Oil and Gas Workers
At the Morris Bart law firm, you can count on our legal team to review your case and offer free guidance about your rights and options for compensation. We are here for you after an offshore injury on an oil or gas rig. We have 15 offices in four states, serving all Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Call (800) 537-8185 today to discuss your injuries and rights with a member of our legal team.
Questions?Call (800) 537-8185
to find a Morris Bart office near you.