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Maritime & Offshore Injury Laws


The phrase “be careful out there” applies doubly to Alabama’s offshore or maritime workers, including seamen, commercial fishermen, and offshore workers in the oil industry. Their workspace contains many of the elements of an accident – wild weather; slippery surfaces; heavy, moving equipment; toxic material exposure, and extreme temperatures.

Five Laws Provide Coverage for Injured Offshore/Maritime Workers

Maritime law and four federal acts cover those hurt or killed at sea, but you may need the help of an experienced maritime attorney to collect your best benefits. Sometimes, you can make a claim under multiple laws. Here is a summary of each:

Maritime Law Historically Gave the Injured Seaman “Maintenance and Cure”

All doubts and ambiguities are often resolved in favor of the injured seaman. Maintenance covers the seaman’s daily living expenses during recovery and cure covers medical expenses. These benefits end when the doctor releases you. You can collect punitive damages and you may be able to bring a separate negligence claim against your employer for future damages under the Jones Act.

The Jones Act Allows Seamen to Sue Their Employer for Injuries at Work Caused by Negligence

To win, the seaman must prove that the negligence of another caused his injuries while he was at work and that the employer’s negligence, no matter how small, contributed to the accident. Examples of employer negligence include failing to properly train employees, failing to provide proper safety equipment, and failing to warn about dangerous areas. Beware of signing any documents offered by your employer or its insurance company. Contact an experienced maritime law attorney, like those at the law offices of Clay, Massey & Associates, P.C., to make sure your rights are protected.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) Provides Workers’ Compensation for Maritime Workers

The LHWCA covers maritime workers who unload and load cargo, repair ships, and work on decks and piers including ship mechanics, harbor workers, longshore workers. It excludes workers covered by state workers’ compensation programs. To protect your right to possible future benefits, you should file under the LHWCA within one year of your injury even if your employer voluntarily pays your benefits and compensation while you are injured.

The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) Covers the Accidental Death of a Maritime Worker More Than Three Miles from U.S. Shores

The Death must have been caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default occurring on the high seas beyond a marine league (3 miles) from the shore of any state.” Only a spouse, child, dependent relative, or their legal representative can file a claim. The amount paid is calculated according to several factors including the amount of compensation the related survivors would have received if the worker had not died. There is a 3-year statute of limitations.

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) of 1953 Extends Workers’ Compensation to Workers on the Outer Continental Shelf

This Act extends LHWCA to workers injured or killed upon fixed structures such as oil well platforms that are attached to the outer continental shelf to conduct natural resource exploration or development. The provisions and limitations of LHWCA apply.

Clay, Massey & Associates, P.C., has successfully handled many claims by injured maritime workers and can get you and your loved ones the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at 251-433-1000 for a FREE consultation or contact us online.