Maritime Law - Perils Faced by Seamen
Tuesday, 27 December 2011 | 11:00
Working on offshore oil rigs, commercial vessels and shipping ports can be grueling and thankless work. Seamen consistently work long hours
and often in dangerous conditions. Despite the inherent dangers seamen face, employers still have a responsibility to maintain safe working environments, properly train workers, and maintain seaworthy vessels.
If an employer fails to do these things, an employee suffers an injury due to such negligence, he or she can seek compensation under the Jones Act, a law passed by Congress to protect injured crewmembers and maritime workers injured in the course of their employment. The Act is an extension of the Federal Employees Liability Act, a law that protects injured railroad workers.
Congress recognized that seamen could be injured at sea, and on land (in harbors and ports). Because of this, a crewmember's Jones Act rights are conditioned by the contractual agreement of employment for serving aboard a vessel, not where the injury occurred. This means the worker's rights continue while onshore so long as the employee is acting within the course of employment. Therefore, if a crewmember is injured on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico or securing mooring cables while in Houston's Ship Harbor, he or she is covered by the Jones Act.
The Act eliminates many defenses commonly asserted by employers, including assumption of risk and contributory negligence. Injured workers can seek damages for loss of wage earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, as well as physical and mental disability.
If you have been injured and have questions about your rights and options under the Jones Act, an experienced attorney can advise you.
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