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

Toll Free: (504) 608-6308
Facsimile: (504) 680-4101

Read About Personal Injury Law in our Legal Blog

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.

Read more.

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

    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.