The federal government recognized decades ago that seamen and other maritime workers needed compensation for injuries suffered on-the-job with the passage of the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act. The latter act provides for workers’ compensation benefits for workers that are not seaman. Louisiana seaman are most likely aware that the Jones Act provides that they may seek damages for injuries suffered through the negligence of fellow crew members, masters or vessel owners.
It is the owner of the M/V Maersk Alabama that is being sued by a seaman injured during a customs inspection last year. According to court documents, a custom’s officer ordered the seaman to clean a freezer on board the ship. While completing this task, the seaman fell. When he fell, he injured his back and knee.
He claims that his employer failed to timely pay him benefits after a determination was made that he was not fit for duty last July. He accuses his employer, Waterman Steamship, of failing to provide a safe work environment and for failing to provide the crew adequate training in safety procedures. He also claims the master and crew were inactive at the time of his accident.
Every Louisiana worker whether on land or sea deserves a safe work environment free from hazards known to cause injury. Even when employers do what they can to provide a safe work environment and proper safety training, injuries can still occur. When a seaman is injured on duty, he or she is entitled to seek financial damages from his or her employer under the Jones Act.