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The Jones Act protects workers hurt at sea

An injured seaman who'd accused his former employer, Kirby Offshore Marine, LLC, of unseaworthiness and negligence finally settled his case last month. On May 10, he was awarded $171,809 by a U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana judge.

In the lawsuit filing, the plaintiff outlined how on Jan. 6, 2017, his supervisor had ordered him to replace the marine vessel Sea Hawk's damaged stern line. When he was asked to do it, the winds were blowing an unsafe 20 miles per hour.

Although the plaintiff noted that it was unsafe for him to replace the line with such wind, he did it anyway. He injured his ankle when he stepped on the line he was set to replace. He ended up requiring surgery.

He alleges that he was fired a year after he'd become injured. When he asked, his employer apparently told him that he could be re-hired. The plaintiff argues that he's not capable of reassuming his offshore tankerman role again due to his disability though.

The New Orleans judge presiding over the case decided that the plaintiff's base salary was $99,008. She calculated that he would be expected to live until the age of 64. She determined that he experienced an economic loss of $103,037 because of the incident. She said that he should expect a future one of $180,581. She then added in his medical costs of $103,037. In the end, she calculated his total losses to be $343,618.

Ultimately, the judge only awarded the plaintiff $171,809. She agreed with the jury that he and his employer were both equally responsible for his injuries and thus ordered each to pay half of the damages that were amassed.

In her ruling, she noted that the captain should have never ordered the plaintiff to replace the stern line in such poor weather conditions. She also argued that the seaman could have been more cautious with his footing when navigating the damaged line. She concluded that the repair didn't directly cause his injury as well.

The Jones Act is a key piece of legislation that protects injured maritime workers. If you're successful in filing a claim, then you may be able to recover lost wages, medical costs and other types of compensation. Injured Louisiana maritime workers should consult with an attorney who can explain what it means to them.

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