LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Timothy Justin Young | Aug 26, 2013

Determining Whether the Jones Act or OSHA Regulations Govern Your Offshore Injury Case

Both the Jones Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) may come into play for seamen who suffer an offshore injury. Exactly how each piece of legislation affects an injury case is complicated, though, as the law may overlap and become intertwined.

Let’s take a brief look at the basics of the Jones Act and the OSHA and how both may affect a worker’s injury claim.

The Jones Act Protects Seamen

The Jones Act is a piece of federal legislation that provides rights for seamen injured on the job, and enables them to sue their employer for damages if the employer was negligent and at fault for the injury.

Employers and vessel owners have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment. Failure to do so could make them liable under the Jones Act for any injuries sustained by their employees.It will be up to the worker and his or her attorney to prove that the employer was negligent and that this negligence is what caused the worker’s injury.

In order to prove a Jones Act claim, workers may use various pieces of evidence, such as:

· ship logs;

· witness testimonies;

· field expert reports; and

· documentation of safety violations.

Because safety violations could be a solid piece of evidence in a Jones Act claim, OSHA inspections and reports – or those from the U.S. Coast Guard if the vessel is an ‘inspected vessel,’ i.e. subject to USCG inspection – might become very instrumental in a worker’s offshore injury case.

OSHA Provides Workers with Rights

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration arose from the OSH Act in 1970 as a way to make working conditions safer for the American worker. The administration provides training, outreach, and education resources, as well as a set of rights that workers can expect to be met at their places of employment.

OSHA has jurisdiction over uninspected vessels for which they provide a list of safety practices and protocols. The administration also gives certain rights to maritime workers, which include the right to: refuse dangerous work;access safety training;file a complaint if there is a safety violation; andask OSHA to investigate the vessel for safety violations.

If the employer is violating safety regulations and has either refused to address the issue or turns a blind eye toward it, the employee can file a complaint with OSHA, request an investigation, and then use the results of that investigation as evidence in a Jones Act claim to prove their employer’s negligence and liability.

Determining How to Handle an Offshore Injury Case

Proving liability is not an easy or straightforward process; there are multiple factors that could affect the case, and maritime law is difficult to understand as it is. Injured offshore workers will have to effectively demonstrate their employment status, their employer’s negligence, and the extent of injuries in order to obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.

In order to determine how to best handle an offshore injury case, it’s advisable to speak with an attorney. Our attorneys at The Young Firm have a deep understanding of the intricacies of offshore injury cases, and are dedicated to helping workers get the maximum restitution possible on their claims. Contact us today and begin looking at the best legal options for your claim.

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