Gennusa & Piacun

Admiralty / Maritime Law

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How the Jones Act protects offshore oil and gas workers

The waters off the coast of Louisiana are a major source of business revenue and employment income for people across the state. While many people work in fishing and shipping, others may work in the oil and gas industry. Locating and extracting oil and gas deposits from deep under the sea requires special infrastructure and massive amounts of human work.

Deep-sea rigs, as well as the supply ships that travel from these massive installations to the shore, require large numbers of skilled personnel to operate. Although these jobs often command a premium wage, they can mean leaving loved ones back on land for days or weeks at a time. Even more concerning is the fact that working far from land with dangerous, flammable materials can easily give rise to workplace injuries.

Workers who get hurt on the job while working offshore in the oil and gas industry may feel surprised to learn that standard Louisiana workers' compensation may not necessarily protect them. The laws are different out at sea. Instead, they may need to seek compensation through special worker protections under the Jones Act of 1920.

The Jones Act extends worker protections to offshore employees

In many regards, the ocean is a bit of a legal gray area. There can be disagreements about whether state or federal laws should hold sway in specific places. There is the potential for international law having a role as well. Some companies will try to use this confusion to their own financial benefit by withholding or denying appropriate benefits from injured workers employed on offshore facilities.

The good news for those dealing with this situation is that the Jones Act effectively extends worker protections to individuals who are U.S. citizens or who work for U.S. companies. The Act may even cover injuries that happen while you are off the clock if they occur on your employer's property.

While many people are aware of the Jones Act because of its impact on domestic shipping rules, the families of people employed in dangerous professions and those workers themselves may eventually come to appreciate how the Jones Act also creates worker protections and employer responsibilities if someone gets hurt on the job.

You may need help connecting with compensation under the Jones Act

Some people are able to navigate the complex workers' compensation system on their own. Other people can even successfully file for disability without professional help. However, for those who find themselves hurt while working in an offshore scenario, the process of securing compensation for their injuries and lost wages may very well require professional help.

Don't let the complexity of the law that applies to offshore workers prevent you from trying to get the benefits you need to make ends meet after a workplace injury.

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