Economic Layoff of the Injured Worker

Oil and gas companies last Friday began halting exploratory drilling in the deepwater of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The companies are following a federal government order mandating a six-month exploratory drilling ban. Job layoffs may be inevitable.

Louisiana officials estimate the administration’s suspension order for the 33 rigs will cause the loss of 3,000 to 6,000 Louisiana jobs in the next two to three weeks and as many as 20,000 if the moratorium persists.

Injured workers who are covered by a job injury compensation scheme and who have returned to work with restrictions prior to being laid off, should know that they may be able to have their wage loss indemnity benefits reinstated because the resulting job loss is of no fault of their own. These compensation schemes include:

Louisiana Workers Compensation Act, LA-R.S. 23:1021 et seq Where an injured worker establishes a work-related injury and the inability to earn 90 percent of his average weekly pre-injury wage when his current position was temporarily eliminated due to the company lay-offs and the employer fails to successfully establish that a suitable job was available for him in their respective communities or in showing that a job had been offered to him that he was capable of performing, the injured workers indemnity benefits must be reinstated.

Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C.A. §§ 901 et seq (“LHWCA”). If an alternative position within an injured employees work restrictions becomes unavailable with the employer of injury due to an economic layoff, full indemnity payments must be reinstated until such time as suitable alternative employment can be established by the employer.

The Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. Sections 30104 et seq, Courts cannot speculate that a Jones Act Seaman would have been unable to find work if he had been laid off had the accident not occurred. This employer argument ignores the fact that plaintiff was working at the time of the accident and therefore, had actual earning capacity.

Also, please remember that an application for and collection of unemployment compensation benefits may affect your ability to receive indemnity payments. Please keep in mind that you may be facing important legal deadlines and should not delay in speaking with your work injury attorney immediately to protect your interests.

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