Workers in most jobs are covered by workers’ compensation laws. These laws were passed long ago to make it easier for a person hurt on the job to recover money from his or her employer. As a trade-off to making recovery easier for employees, employer costs for workers compensation are generally less than if recovery occurred through lawsuits.
Seaman are not covered by workers’ compensation. Instead, long ago, Congress passed a federal law known as the Jones Act to give seamen a way to recover when they are hurt on the job due to employer negligence. The law applies to seaman who work on a vessel at least 30% of the time.
The Jones Act has a generous standard for employees. Under that law, an employer has to provide a reasonably safe workplace. If an employer’s negligence causes an employee to be injured, the employee wins his case. It does not matter whether the employer’s negligence was particularly bad. If the employer was negligent at all and that negligence leads to the employee’s injury, the employee wins.
This is a much easier standard to meet than that used in most employees’ lawsuits against their employers. In fact, “[t]his test is often described as a ‘featherweight causation standard.’” Using it, many seamen are able to recover against their employers.
Here are some examples of employer negligence that might allow a seaman to recover:
- Getting hurt because your employer failed to train your fellow seamen properly;
- Falling on a slippery substance on the deck; and
- Being hurt because a coworker performed a task unsafely.
If you are a seaman and were hurt at sea, the attorneys at Wright Pichon & Gray are here to help. We offer free consultations, and we will stay by your side every step of the way. Contact us today at (504) 264-5552 to schedule an appointment.