No workspace can escape the reaches of the coronavirus epidemic. This includes off-shore oil rigs and transport vessels. During these precarious times, vessel owners and crew managers/supervisors need to take extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of those who work on rigs, operate transport vessels, and come in contact with other seamen and maritime workers.
If a vessel owner or crew manager/supervisor knowingly lets others come in contact with an infected individual, they may be held accountable for their actions by experienced COVID-19 maritime lawyers.
At Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys, we’ve helped oil rig and other maritime workers seek justice for injuries resulting from the negligence of others for over 15 years. If you contracted COVID-19 after being exposed to an unsafe work environment or co-worker that management failed to disclose, you may be entitled to compensation for medical care, lost wages, and other damages and expenses.
COVID-19 Remedies for Seamen
There are specific maritime laws that protect seamen. Under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. §50101, a seaman is entitled to recover damages for maintenance and cure regardless of fault.
This is in addition to filing a claim for negligence and unseaworthiness under general maritime law due to an employer and/or vessel owner failing to provide a reasonably fit vessel.
Recovery for maintenance and cure, and general negligence includes:
- Expenses associated with lost food and lodging that would normally have been covered while on board a vessel.
- Costs associated with necessary and reasonable medical expenses related to an illness or disease contracted while in the service of an employer, to include potential repatriation, sequestration, and quarantine until medical improvement.
- Lost wages for a seaman that was not able to finish a voyage because of his illness.
Just like with a personal injury claim, an off-shore seaman bears the burden of proof, meaning they must establish that:
- Their employer or a vessel owner were under obligation to perform a certain duty of care.
- The employer or vessel owner failed to perform that duty.
- That failure led to the seaman contracting coronavirus dnd suffered damages as a result of that failure.
Ultimately, under the Jones Act an employer who acts unreasonably or omits safety protocols that aggravate or cause an illness to a seaman in their employ are liable to cover damages resulting from illness and other losses. Failure to pay these remedies until a seaman reaches maximum medical recovery may lead to punitive damages.
COVID-19 Remedies for Longshore & Harbor Workers
Harbor workers, longshoremen, stevedores, and other maritime workers who believe they contracted COVID-19 while at work may seek medical and indemnity benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
As LHWCA is a type of insurance policy, individuals are left with the burden to prove that their contracted illness was the direct result of a negligent act or omission by their employer. Once the burden of proof has been established, filing a worker’s comp claim may allow for them to recover damages from their employer.
Under Section 905(b) of the Longshore Act, a COVID-19 claim could provide a significant basis if a vessel owner is proven to have failed to warn workers of the presumed or actual existence of an infected crew that later resulted in a longshoreman and/or harbor worker contracting the virus.
Longshore & Harbor Workers may also file a general negligence claim under maritime law against the owner of a vessel for unseaworthiness. As is the case with seaman, this type of negligence claim could include a specific vessel owner, as well as their own employer.
In general, employers and vessel owners and operators have a duty to provide a reasonably safe workplace or means of transport. When they fail to implement certain protocols that limit exposure to any illness, toxin, or other threats, workers and passengers are left to suffer.
The latency period of the virus and the potential for infected individuals not showing symptoms can make it difficult to prove fault. A COVID-19 maritime lawyer can help you work through the details and establish fault or negligence.
Please contact our maritime legal team if you believe that you or a loved one contracted the virus while under the employment or seeking the service of another. We will help you seek legal remedies for this beach of duty to look after your welfare.
What Determines Unseaworthiness?
An employer and vessel owner has a non-delegable duty to provide a reasonably safe workplace vessel fit for its intended use.
For seaman, longshoremen, and harbor workers who contracted coronavirus, they just need to provide a solid link between contracting the virus to a legally cognizable unseaworthy vessel condition.
Coastal COVID-19 maritime lawyers might use to following unseaworthy conditions as a basis to file a claim:
- Incompetent crew members who are ill or not fit for service, thus creating an unsafe place to work.
- Training deficiencies in handling and implementation of proper COVID-19 treatment, isolation, quarantining, and screening practices.
- Issues with poor sanitation, supplies, and such on a
- Failure of an employer to give notice of the ill worker.
- Failure to properly evacuate and clean a vessel that has been contaminated by ill workers, resulting in an unseaworthy condition.
Contact COVID-19 Maritime Lawyers for Seaman, Longshoreman, and Harbor Workers
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the oil and shipping industry. These negative effects are only exacerbated if maritime employers and vessel owners don’t take seriously their duty to properly train, care for, and look after both healthy and sick workers, crew, and passengers.
If you are a seaman, longshoreman, harbor worker, and other maritime crew member who believes that they contracted coronavirus from the unsafe and negligent actions or omissions of an employer, vessel owner, or co-worker, contact us for a free consultation.
With almost two decades of experience looking after the well-being of maritime workers, we’re primed for recovering damages for those who contracted COVID-19 while at work or on an unseaworthy vessel. The call and consultation is free, so contact our maritime lawyers to find out if you might be entitled to remedies.