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Workers on vessels have protections from the federal government

It's pretty easy to know your rights at work when you have your feet squarely on land. But a lot of workers in Louisiana, like many in Florida and California, spend a lot of hours in the territorial waters of their state. Some may even end up in international waters in search of fish below the surface or oil beneath the rocks.

Workers injured on the job may take comfort knowing that workers' compensation acts in their states guarantee their medical expenses and help during recovery. These laws may not apply on the water, either because of jurisdiction or the types of workers injured in a maritime workplace.

Seafarers, as workers on sea vessels are known in federal law, are granted several protections by that law. They can bring claims against the owners or operators of vessels where they are injured just like passengers if the same thing happened to them. Because of their importance, seafarers are called "wards of admiralty," meaning the federal government takes certain responsibilities for their safety.

One of these responsibilities is included in the Jones Act, which grants several protections to workers on vessels and related industries in harbors and elsewhere on land. Most of these protections are similar to state workers' compensation acts, requiring responsible companies to retain insurance to cover possible medical expenses.

Workers injured on the job abroad vessels or in harbors have the right to make claims under this law. An attorney may be able to help make a successful claim or fight a rejection to make sure workers get the help they need.

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