Louisiana residents who work as crew members or officers aboard vessels do not fall under the ordinary workers’ compensation system. A federal law called the Jones Act allows them to file personal injury claims against their employers. It also allows surviving family members to file wrongful death claims in the event their loved one is killed while on the job.
For example, a seaman claims that he suffered injuries to his right ankle, left knee and lower spine in an accident while working on board his employer’s vessel. It is claimed that the nature of his injuries resulted in permanent disability. Seadrill Americas Inc. hired the man as a roustabout. He was then assigned to a deepwater semi-submersible drilling vessel, which is where the accident took place.
The details surrounding the accident were not outlined in the court documents recently filed in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana. However, the allegations against Seadrill claim that the vessel was not seaworthy, the seaman was not provided with a safe work environment and was not given any warnings regarding certain hazards aboard the vessel. He seeks relief for current and future medical costs, lost wages and other damages.
A federal judge will ultimately determine whether the evidence presented on behalf of the seaman constitutes negligence on the part of Seadrill. First, however, it must be established before the court that man is a seaman as defined in the Jones Act and that the vessel he was aboard at the time of the accident also meets the definition of a vessel as set forth in the Act. A successfully litigated claim could result in an award of all or a portion of the damages he seeks.