- Lemberg Law
- Maritime Injury Lawyer – Offshore Accident Attorneys
What is Maritime Law?
Maritime, or admiralty law, is the preeminent body of law that governs nautical issues and private maritime disputes. Matters dealt by admiralty law include marine commerce, marine navigation, salvage, maritime pollution, seafarers’ rights, and the carriage by sea of both passengers and goods.
Who Is Covered by Maritime Law?
As we alluded to above, there are two basic types of maritime workers: in the first group are those workers who qualify as veritable “seamen”, and in the second group reside basically all other employees working on or near the water. In many instances, the type of compensation that an injured maritime worker is likely to receive is contingent upon their classification. Below, we will detail some of the key considerations when it comes to workplace injuries in the maritime industry.
Who is a Seaman?
In general, a seaman is a person who spends a significant portion of his/her time (at least 30%) working as a crewmember on a vessel (almost any kind of ship or boat) that is considered “in navigation” — that is, afloat, in operation, capable of moving, and on navigable waters.
What compensation is an injured Seaman entitled to?
Unlike conventional employees, injured seaman are not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits under state or federal law. Instead, an injured seaman is entitled to three separate types of compensation and/or damages under distinct federal laws.
1. Negligence under the Jones Act
The Jones Act, enacted in 1920, is a federal law that gives seamen injured in the course of their employment the right to sue their employer for negligence damages. Under the Jones Act, a maritime employer is obligated to: 1) provide the seaman with a reasonably safe place to work, and 2) use ordinary care under the circumstances to maintain and keep the vessel on which the seaman works in a reasonably safe condition. Thankfully, these requirements are read very strictly in the law. Almost any unsafe condition, no matter how small, can lead to liability under the Jones Act. Importantly, the Jones Act carries an unusually low burden of proof with respect to employer negligence. As opposed to standard negligence, under the Jones Act the injured seaman need only prove that the employer’s negligence played any part, however small, in the plaintiff’s injuries. That means, you or a loved one would still be entitled to recover damages against an employer so long as the employer’s negligence was even 1% at fault for the injury.
Under maritime law, a seaworthy vessel is a ship whose hull, equipment and crew are reasonably adequate in design, maintenance, and character to perform their intended functions in the operation of the ship. That is not to say that an unseaworthy vessel is one that cannot sail or be navigated — it simply means that a vessel is unseaworthy with respect to seaman if it does not provide him with safe and suitable appliances with which to perform his work, and if it does not afford him a safe place in which to work. This duty is absolute for the employer — failure to do so results in liability without exception.
3. Maintenance and Cure
Finally, arising from the common law of admiralty, maintenance and cure requires a maritime employer to provide care for an injured seamen, regardless of fault. In determining compensation, maintenance is taken to mean the room and board of the seaman while recovering from injury. This includes expenses such as seaman’s rent/mortgage, utilities, property taxes, insurance, and food. Cure, on the other hand, includes the injured seaman’s medical expenses to the point of maximum medical improvement.
Compensation for Non-Seaman Maritime Workers?
Even if you or a loved one does not qualify as a seaman, they may nevertheless be entitled to compensation/protection under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. The Longshore Act, originally enacted in 1927, covers the majority of employees who work on or near the water and are not seaman. The types of employees covered by the Longshore Act are people like longshoremen, harbor workers, stevedores, and most other people who work on the docks and in shipping terminals or shipyards. In general, the Longshore Act provides more compensation to the injured worker than most state workers’ compensation acts. For example, while state workers’ compensation may recover 60% of the employee’s average weekly wages (compounded over a period of time), the Longshore Act provides for nearly 67%. Also, while state workers’ compensation does not ordinarily provide for workers with permanent partial disability, the Longshore Act provides coverage for this class of disability.
What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Maritime Law?
Maritime injury cases can pertain to a wide-variety of accidents at sea, including fires, explosions, incidents on cruise ships, products liability cases, and wrongful death claims among others. More specifically, below are a couple of the most common complaints covered by maritime law:
- Jack-up rig accidents
- Barge accidents
- Deck accidents
- Commercial fishing
- Cargo ship accidents
- Tugboat accidents
- Oil platform accidents
- Shipyard accidents
If you or a loved one were involved in any of the following, you likely require an experienced maritime lawyer. Unfortunately, serious incidents can occur with relative frequency, causing injuries that range from broken bones, to damaged backs, to brain trauma. When these situations arise, it is imperative that no time is wasted in retaining a knowledgeable lawyer.
Contact an experienced Maritime Injury Lawyer
Injured on the job in Texas, Florida, Georgia, or anywhere in the Gulf Coast? We have the answers. If you let us handle your claim on your behalf, we will not stop fighting until you get every dollar that you deserve. From the very beginning, our services won’t cost you anything out of pocket. If for some reason, we can’t settle your claim, you don’t pay anything. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain from getting in touch with Lemberg Law. Give us a call.
If you or someone you love has experienced pain and suffering from personal injury, you need to contact Lemberg Law immediately. Our highly experienced attorneys are waiting to help you. Get the justice and compensation you deserve. Complete our form for a FREE case evaluation or call 475-277-2200 now for a free case review. We’re here to help.
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