Ocean Springs’ shipyards provide many employees with jobs that offer a solid rate of pay and extensive benefits. However, these locations are extremely hazardous. A combination of heavy machinery, dangers that come with working outdoors, and the added risk of water lead to a high rate of workplace injuries.
A worker’s rights following an injury depend entirely on their legal status under the law. maritime workers cannot seek compensation for damages through workers’ compensation claims. They may only collect compensation for their losses through lawsuits against their employers.
If you or a loved one were injured while working on the water, an Ocean Springs shipyard accident lawyer could help your case. A skilled maritime injury attorney could work to determine your rights under the law and help you seek compensation for damages.
In 1920, the United States Congress recognized the role that the nation’s shipping industry played in the economy. The resulting Jones Act regulated which ships could travel to American ports as well as authorized Congress to impress the merchant marine into military service in times of war.
More importantly to shipyard employees, it also extended the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) to include seamen. The FELA states that employees who suffer injuries on the job can sue their employers directly for their losses under 46 United States Code §30104. Simultaneously, it excuses shipping companies from needing to supply workers’ compensation protection to these employees.
To be eligible to file a claim, it is essential to determine whether an injured shipyard worker counts as a seaman under the statute. In general, a seaman is a person who spends at least 30 percent of their working hours on a navigable vessel. A worker engaged in ship construction likely does not qualify under this rule. However, an employee who spends their time doing repairs could fall under this category. A knowledgeable Ocean Springs shipyard accident attorney could provide more information about the Jones Act and its effect on shipyard workers.
Many shipyard workers may not be bound to the rules of the Jones Act. This means that their employers must provide them with workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Ideally, an employee will be aware of their position prior to an injury. However, it is not uncommon for confusion over this question to lead to difficulties collecting compensation.
If a worker does not qualify under the Jones Act, they must collect payments through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This Act creates a federal fund that provides payment for medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and lost pay benefits directly to injured shipyard workers.
However, this Act does have its limitations. The law only applies to injuries that occurs on navigable waters of the United States. Alternatively, it can also apply to injuries that occur on docks, repair yards, or drydocks. As a result, most shipyard workers will enjoy protection under this Act. A knowledgeable Ocean Springs shipyard accident attorney could help to pursue compensation if these claims meet resistance.
Suffering an injury while working in one of Ocean Springs’ shipyards can place you in a difficult position. You know that you have rights but may be unsure as to how to use those rights to your advantage. The fact is that your rights change based on how much of your working time you spend on a finished ship. If this number is above 30 percent, you must sue your employer directly for your losses. If not, a traditional workers’ compensation claim is the only means to recover compensation.
An Ocean Springs shipyard accident lawyer stands ready to help you. They can make the determination of whether or not you need to file a case under the Jones Act. If so, they can take the case to court on your behalf. If not, they can guide you through a workers’ compensation appeal. Contact an Ocean Springs shipyard accident lawyer today to explore your options.