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The Young Firm
400 Poydras Street, Suite 2090
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Toll Free: (504) 680-4100
Facsimile: (504) 680-410

Read About Personal Injury Law in our Legal Blog

The Jones Act and Safety: Are You At Risk?

By Timothy Young on August 5, 2013

Is Your Employer Doing Everything They Can to Protect You?

Safety rules under the Jones Act are overwhelmingly in favor of the worker; however, many maritime employees working offshore are not aware of just how comprehensive their rights are, or how many safety rules are in place to protect them in their daily operations.  Because so many workers are under-, mis-, or even uninformed, maritime companies frequently take advantage of such workers and violate rules and regulations.

Do They Provide a Safe Place to Work?

The Jones Act gives every worker the right to a “safe place to work” – a far-reaching rule but one of the most important for maritime employees.  For instance, if an employee has been injured at work, and he or she thinks that the injury could have been prevented had the employer followed proper safety guidelines, a judge/jury can specifically determine if that worker was provided with a “safe place to work”.

Do They Follow Industry Standards?

Under the Jones Act, industry-specific rules and regulations also apply.  Such regulations include the American Petroleum Institute standards regarding operating and rigging cranes and slings, as well as all Coast Guard safety rules including vessel safety and keeping the vessel safe from slip and trip hazards.  OSHA standards also apply and are enforced under the Jones Act, and vessels are subject to inspections for adherence to OSHA safety requirements.

Do They Provide Proper Training?

Additionally, it is the employer’s responsibility to assure that all employees receive the proper amount and type of training and supervision to perform their jobs well and safely.  Often, a company will try to satisfy such requirements with “on-the-job” training; however, such training can be seriously lacking when it comes to the types of detail-oriented, complex duties assigned to maritime workers.  What’s more, the most dangerous responsibilities are normally the most difficult to perform; unfortunately, such duties commonly fall to new employees, as more experienced and senior workers do not want to perform them and pass them off.

Do They Provide Proper Manpower?

Under the Jones Act, every employer also must ensure that there are enough workers to perform each task.  Often a company will insist on an insufficient number of workers performing a task because that’s the way it has always been done.  But just because it’s always been done the same way, does not mean it is the safest way, nor does it ensure that proper procedures are followed to protect the workers, particularly in cases of jobs that are performed less frequently.

Are you a maritime worker uncertain about your rights under the Jones Act?  The Young Firm has made free, downloadable publications available to help you learn everything you need to know.

If you have been injured and want to talk to someone who deals exclusively with maritime law, contact or call us today at 866-938-6113 for your free consultation.  We are here to answer all of your questions and to make sure you understand your legal rights as a maritime worker.

What Damages Can I Collect Under The Jones Act?

By Timothy Young on August 2, 2013

The Jones Act allows you to collect any damages that directly relate to your incident and subsequent injury.  Such damages may include pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages or fringe benefits.  When you have been injured, the pain and the bills can really add up, so it’s important to know about the compensation to which you are entitled.

Pain and Suffering

If you are able to prove pain and suffering damages during your trial, both past and future, you will be able collect these damages. The testimony you give at your trial, however, as well as the testimonies of your doctor and other witnesses, are critical in proving the nature and impact of your injury and the resulting pain and suffering. Very often family members and friends will testify on your behalf as witnesses to the injury’s effect on your daily life and future employability.

Past and Future Lost Wages

Damages in a Jones Act case may also include past and future loss of wages, if such losses are directly related to your injury.  The Young Firm works with qualified economists who determine the exact value of your losses, both past and future.  Most courts require these official figures from an economic expert for the injured worker to receive the damages.  Such calculations depend on what you were earning at the time of the injury; however, under the Jones Act, you can also collect financial damages based on future promotions and raises that you would have received if you had not been force to stop working due to injury.  The Young Firm is diligent about calculating future wages accurately, which can make all the difference between collecting the damages to which you are truly entitled, and simply collecting the dollar amount on your paycheck at the time of your injury.

Fringe Benefits

Working offshore can provide substantial fringe benefits.  However, when you are injured and unable to perform the manual tasks required of your job, you may no longer receive such benefits.  Fringe benefits include meals while on the job, retirement funds, and medical and disability insurance.  The Young Firm will acquire copies of your payment records, which include the collective value of your fringe benefits.  We will analyze and use this information to determine the actual value of your past and future financial losses, not just what your company wants to pay you based on a number on your paycheck.

If you are an injured seaman, you may be eligible for benefits under the Jones Act.  The Young Firm is here to serve you.  We have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, and we can handle any situation you may be in.  Contact us for a free consultation today!

The Blame Game: Negligence Under Maritime Law

By Timothy Young on July 29, 2013

In maritime law, a person is considered liable for all damages caused by their negligence.  In other words, they are responsible for not doing what a “reasonable” person would have done under the same conditions. This is called the “reasonable person test” and it is used in most state-based claims.  Proving negligence under maritime law involves convincing a judge and/or jury that the defendant failed to take action that should have been taken, or by proving that the defendant did not apply proper safety measures.  To recover damages in a maritime law case, you must prove this negligence.

Additionally, maritime law allows for comparative fault against the plaintiff.  The defendant will try to assert that the plaintiff in the suit was, at least in part, responsible for his or her own accident.  If they are successful, the damages of the plaintiff will be lowered by that percentage of fault.  For example, if the judge rules that the plaintiff was responsible for 30% of his or her own injuries, then 30% will be deducted from the damages he or she is eligible to receive.

It is very important to name all parties that may have had a role in your offshore injury as defendants in your maritime case.  If a company other than the defendant was responsible for any part of your injury or accident but that company is not named in the suit, the defendant could attempt to transfer the blame to that third party.  If they succeed, your damages could be reduced by the percentage of blame placed on the third party.

You should understand that your company and any third party involved in your accident will do everything they can to accept as little blame as possible for your injuries.  If you have been injured, give yourself the best advantage available, and contact a maritime lawyer at The Young Firm today for a free consultation.  We are here to answer all your questions and to ensure that you receive all damages to which you are entitled.

For more information about your rights as a maritime worker, download our free publications here.

Maintenance and Cure: Are You Getting All You Deserve?

By Timothy Young on July 22, 2013

General maritime law places an obligation on the employer to provide any injured employee with “maintenance and cure”.  The law is very much on the side of the injured worker when it comes to maintenance and cure, so it is important that you are aware of your rights should the time come when you need to invoke them.

Definition of Maintenance

Maintenance is defined as the amount of money it costs to maintain yourself on land as your company does at sea. Generally speaking, this includes food, housing, and any other monthly bills you might have.  Most maritime companies will pay you a flat rate of $15 to $30 per day as your maintenance, even though there is no legal basis for this amount.  According to maritime law, all questions or ambiguities with regard to maintenance and cure must be settled in favor of the injured seaman.  It is imperative that you receive the maintenance rate appropriate for your specific case, so that you are able to pay your expenses while you are unable to work.  Don’t settle for what the company thinks they can get away with paying you; insist on what you actually need.

Definition of Cure

Cure in maritime law is defined as reasonable medical expenses that are related to the seaman’s injury. The injured worker has the right to choose his or her own physician, and the company is obligated to pay for all medical expenses that result from the injury you incurred while working.

If your company does not pay maintenance and cure, you as an injured offshore worker have the right to take your claim to court. You have the right to argue that your company was both unreasonable and arbitrary in their refusal to pay your maintenance and cure.  If the court rules that your company has been unreasonable, it is possible you will be awarded attorney fees you incurred while filing the suit to receive proper maintenance and cure.  If your company is also found to be arbitrary in their refusal to pay, you may collect additional damages for the worsening of your condition due to your company’s refusal to provide you with the maintenance and cure to which you are entitled.

If you have been injured on the job and you are not receiving fair maintenance and cure from your employer, contact our office today for a free consultation.  The Young Firm fights exclusively for maritime workers, and we are a 100% maritime law firm.  You are in good hands with us.

“Featherweight” Burden of Proof: The Jones Act Works in Favor of Injured Seamen

By Timothy Young on July 12, 2013

When it comes to civil cases, the plaintiff has the “burden of proof” or “preponderance of the evidence”.  In the case of Jones Act claims, this means that the injured seaman must prove the negligence of his or her employer or co-employee.  However, because the Jones Act relies upon a “featherweight” burden of proof, it can be easier to acquire damages in Jones Act cases than in other civil suits.

To understand what this means, consider a basic balance scale with two trays.  As the plaintiff, you want to tip the scales in your favor with proof of negligence.  Fortunately, under the Jones Act, if you tip the scales by as much as a “featherweight”, you have satisfied the burden of proof, and are therefore eligible to collect damages from your employer.  In other words, you only need a very small amount of proof that your injury was caused by the accident on the job to tip the scales in your favor and win your case.  This is very different from, say, a civil case involving fraud which has a much higher burden of proof.

The burden of proof often comes into play when the offshore injury you have sustained is very similar to an injury you had in the past, or even the same as an old injury.  It is especially helpful in cases such as these to have such a light burden of proof, so that you can effectively show that your latest injury was caused by the recent incident, and was not a continuation of an old injury.

While this part of the Jones Act works very much in your favor, it is important to remember that Jones Act claims are complicated, and that having an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer on your side, who knows maritime law inside and out, is essential.

If you’re looking for more personalized information specific to your situation, you can find it in your free Personal Protection Plan. When you call for your VIP consultation, our experienced maritime attorney will discuss your situation and give you valuable, personalized advice. You can expect your Personal Protection Plan to include the following:

  1. The Value of Your Claim-Our maritime attorney will cover the different aspects of your situation and how it may affect the value of your claim.
  2. When You Should File Suit & Why-The attorney will evaluate when you should file based on several factors: when and where your injury took place, and the circumstances and extent of your injury.
  3. 3 Actions You Should Take to Protect Yourself-You can expect our attorney to give you an action plan with three specific steps you should take. This is the most valuable feature of your Personal Protection Plan and can be used to immediately protect yourself and your future.

Call or email us today to request your free Personal Protection Plan. Call us today at 866-920-8471 / Email info@theyoungfirm.com

What You Should Know: Maritime Companies’ Five Most Common Legal Tactics

By Timothy Young on July 8, 2013

1. Recorded Statement

When you are injured, your company will immediately attempt to obtain a recorded statement from you.  Additionally, some employers will hire an insurance company to look into your claim.  The insurance representatives usually say they are trying to assist you, and that they simply need to document the injury.  However, what you need to remember is that these representatives work for the company; they do not work for you.  Typically they are taking the statement so that they can get more detailed knowledge about your history, the incident, and your injury so that they can transfer the fault of the accident from their shoulders onto yours.  Never give a recorded statement to these representatives or to your company.  It can severely impact your career and potential claim. We always recommend you talk to an experienced maritime attorney before giving any statements.

2. Video Surveillance

After you file your maritime claim – in fact, sometimes days after your injury – many companies will attempt to gather video surveillance of your activities.  Your company might hire a private investigator to follow you, and if you continue to work or attempt regular activities, they might use the video footage to refuse to foot the bill for any medical treatment you receive.

3. Requiring You to See the Company Doctor

Your rights under maritime law allow you freedom of choice in selecting a treating physician.  However, maritime companies will very often insist that if injured, you receive treatment from their own company doctor which can do irreparable damage to your maritime claim.  Many company physicians will deny or put off necessary medical testing that could prove the severity of your injury.  Instead, they advise you to wait and see if the injury heals on its own.  These doctors will also try to convince you to resume working as early as possible, even though you have not yet acquired all the medical testing necessary.  Once you have returned to the job, being approved for further treatment will be difficult, as your company will cite your ability to return to the job as proof that you are no longer injured.

4. Refusal of Physician Choice

Many times, your company will try to convince you that you are required to see the company physician at the onset of your treatment.  Do not accept this as fact.  You have the right to choose your own physician from the start, regardless of what your company might tell you.  If you see their doctor first, and that doctor releases you to return to all previous activities and work, your company can use this as a reason to deny you the right to go to the physician of your choosing later.  Stand your ground and insist on seeing the doctor that you trust for your treatment.

5. Misstatements

One tactic your maritime company will undoubtedly use in trial will be to try to catch you in a misstatement (“lie”), in an effort to damage your credibility.  The content of the misstatement is irrelevant; even statements you made regarding an injury years before you ever worked for your current company, in an occupation with no connection to the maritime industry, could be called into question and ruin your case.  From the start of your claim, your company is prosecuting you – every single statement you make and action you take will come into question by your company’s legal team.  Though your case is legitimate and your injury real, the lawyers will attempt to shift the focus to your credibility as a witness in an effort to prove their innocence and your fault.

Injured offshore? Read more about your rights in this free, downloadable book, “The Employee’s Guide To Maritime Injury Law“.

If you have any questions about your injury or your rights, contact an experienced maritime attorney at The Young Firm at 866-938-6113.

Where Do I File My Jones Act Claim?

By Timothy Young on July 8, 2013

You can file a Jones Act claim in either state or federal court, even though the Jones Act itself is a federal statute.  The “savings to suitors clause” provides that claims can be filed in state courts if those courts recognize federal claims under the Jones Act.

It is important to note, however, that if you file in federal court, the right to select either a judge or jury trial is completely up to you, while if you file in state court, both parties have the right to a jury trial.  Many times, it is actually better to have a trial by judge rather than one by jury, depending on the specifics of your case.

More often than not, you will have more than one option for where you can file the suit; the location of the courthouse where you can file varies greatly between cases.  If you file federally, any federal court in the country can hear your case.  In federal courts, however, there does exist the rule of “forum non conveniens”, which means that the court you select must be positioned close to some of the necessary actions that did or will happen surrounding your case, including the site of the initial accident, medical facility of your treating physician, or the location of witnesses in your case.  Even filing in state court will have some of these location requirements, but the requirements can generally be satisfied if the company has a local office, or if you left for offshore from nearby.

The Young Firm routinely files suits in both state and federal courts in southern Louisiana from across the Gulf Coast, because very often the companies in these cases have offices in Louisiana, or the employee worked out of Louisiana.

In Jones Act cases, you technically have until three years after the accident to file your claim; however, in most cases, it is critical to file your claim much sooner than that.  If you think you might have a claim under the Jones Act, contact one of our experienced maritime lawyers today for a free consultation.  Maritime law is all we do, and we are here to answer any questions you have.  Call us today at 866-920-8471.

Research Maritime Attorneys Online

By Timothy Young on May 2, 2013

Deciding to hire a maritime lawyer is hard enough for some. Trying to find the right one can seem downright overwhelming.

To find the right maritime attorney, you need one with a focus on maritime law, one that thoroughly understands the Jones Act and general maritime law, and one that has experience handling Jones Act cases.

There are many “maritime” law firms online, making your research even more difficult. Often these law firms practice various unrelated areas of law and you may not even know it.

The following tip will assist you in your research for good, maritime law firms.

Searching for Maritime Law Firms Online

When researching online, you might Google such as terms as “New Orleans maritime attorneys” or “Louisiana Jones Act lawyers” depending on your location. The sites that appear in the results will be any that use those specific terms on their site. At first glance, it may look like these law firms have a maritime focus.

Many times there won’t be other practice areas listed and the entire site only talks about maritime claims and maritime injuries. The site offshoreinjuryfirm.com is one example. Looking at this website gives one the impression that it is a maritime law firm.

But let’s take a closer look.

If you Googled the name of the maritime law firm, you’d find another website for the same law firm that clearly shows that the firm actually practices over a dozen different types of law.

Why would they clearly list all of their practice areas on one site but not another? What does this accomplish?

One explanation is that they want to give the impression that they focus on maritime law, and that they are looking out for your specific needs. However, they actually practice many other types of law that may not necessarily be helpful to your case.

We believe that maritime cases are incredibly complex and specialized and so you would naturally need an attorney that focuses on these types of cases.

When you’re researching maritime attorneys online, make sure that your Jones Act attorney truly focuses on Jones Act cases and can effectively handle your maritime case.

Now, there isn’t anything legally wrong with law firms designing sites for specific practice areas, but it makes your job more difficult if you do not possess all of the information you need to make a smart decision.

When you’re putting your future in another’s hands, would you rather that individual have their focus divided between twelve different and unrelated kinds of law or 100 percent focused on one? I know which one I’d choose.

Should you need help researching maritime law firms online, give us a call or chat with our support staff. We’re more than happy to show you more researching techniques to help you make your decision.

Are Injury Settlements Taxable?

By Timothy Young on February 27, 2013

To answer this simply, no not usually.The IRS Code Section 104(c) says that money you receive from personal injury settlements is not considered gross wages to you. Therefore, it is tax free.

After we settle our clients’ cases, we generally insist that there is a reference to this code in the release. This guarantees that there isn’t any confusion when clients file their taxes. Clients can simply show their release to the tax accountant and say that because the money received was on account of a personal injury, it should not be taxable.

It is important that you discuss your settlement’s tax issues with your attorney. If they have your best interest at heart, they should know this information. If you have any questions about whether the money you receive through a settlement is taxable, just give us a call. We’d be happy to help.

Need a Florida Jones Act Lawyer? Our Office May Be Your Best Bet. Learn Why Here.

By Timothy Young on February 21, 2011

There are at least three advantages you get when you hire our office to handle your Florida Jones act case.  If you need a Florida Jones Act lawyer, learn the benefits we can give you here.

http://www.jonesactlaw.com/library/florida-jones-act-lawyers.cfm