It is no secret that working offshore can be very dangerous work. Because the maritime industry has been around for centuries, the law in the United States has been able to develop so that there are a lot of rules and regulations governing the responsibilities maritime companies must uphold to keep their offshore workers safe. These companies have the advantage of knowing their responsibilities, but that doesn't mean they share this knowledge with their employees. What that means is that many maritime workers who become injured do not know their rights and simply trust in their employer to "do the right thing."
On June 3, 2017, it was announced that the sizeable Herbon oil platform started its two week journey from Bull Arm, St. John's, to the Grand Banks. Eight tow vessels were used to carry the massive platform to its destination.
Unlike typical personal injury lawsuits, claims involving ships and vessels may be subject to special rules that can limit the damages an injured party is entitled to receive following a lawsuit. While most lawsuits seek recovery for the entirety of medical and property damages incurred by an injured individual, these admiralty actions, known as Limitation Actions, can reduce or even eliminate the amount of money available to be awarded.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the "collateral source rule," which prevents a defendant from reducing his liability by the amount a plaintiff recovers from independent sources such as health insurance, does not apply when the defendant's workers' compensation insurance carrier pays benefits pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). Under the court's ruling, written off portions of billed medical expenses are not recoverable when the remaining portion of the billed medical expenses were paid through LHWCA workers' compensation insurance.
When a seaman is hurt at work, many employers seek to avoid responsibility by paying "advances" while the seaman is recovering and undergoing medical treatment. By law, the employer of an injured Jones Act seaman is required to pay that seamen maintenance and cure benefits. At the end of a case, employers are not permitted reimbursement for proper maintenance and cure benefits. However, if an employer characterizes payments as "advances," then the company can try to get repaid that money out of any settlement or amount a jury may award at trial.
Civil litigation seeking recovery for injuries that mariners receive in the course and scope of their employment often draw upon the information obtained by governmental accident investigations. Often, the question that follows "did your employer fill out an accident report?" is: "Did the Coast Guard do an investigation?" The reason why lawyers who represent injured seamen are interested in governmental investigations is the same reason that lawyers who represent maritime companies are interested: We want the truth.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by how many different law firms claim to have expertise in representing injured maritime workers. Injured seamen are looking for the right lawyer while simultaneously dealing with the medical bills and stress of worrying about where the next paycheck will come from. It is important that you hire the right maritime injury lawyer. At Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, you will be represented by a staff of professional, knowledgeable, respected attorneys who have a track record of proven success.