Maritime workers are protected depending on what their occupational status is. Traditional seaman or those actually traveling on the high seas are protected by the Jones Act. The Jones Act allows liability without a showing of fault by the boat owner. Harbor workers and other workers involved with ships are protected by general concepts of tort law (negligence) and workmen’s compensation laws.

What Is the Primary Basis of Maritime Personal Injury?

Maritime personal injury cases revolve around issues of negligence, in particular boat owners and boat workers who have been negligent in their activities.

Who Do These Laws Apply to?

Maritime personal injury recovery laws typically apply to the following groups of people:

  • Longshoremen (those who load and unload cargo)
  • Maintenance and Repairmen (ship cleaners, tank cleaners, carpenters, electricians, and mechanics etc.)
  • Other non-seaman or persons whose occupations bring them aboard vessels on navigable waters, whose duties are of the type performed by seamen, who are members of a ship’s company, but do not go to sea
  • Passengers and guests of boats owners and boat companies

Does a Boat Owner Owe Any Duties to Its Passengers?

The vessel as a common carrier of passengers owes a duty of safe transportation. That duty, generally speaking, is to safely embark the passenger, carry him to his port of destination and to make sure that he has safely disembarked. During the passage, these duties include the protection of passengers from harm, either at the hands of the ship’s crew or from fellow-passengers, and from any injury attributable to negligence of the vessel.

Can Small Boat Owners be Liable for Personal Injuries?

Small boat owners can be liable for personal injuries if they fail to exercise reasonable care. Some examples of failing to use reasonable care would be if they are unfamiliar with waters they are navigating in and fail to familiarize themselves with those waters, and operating vessels at unsafe rates of speed.

Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding a Maritime Personal Injury?

Depending on your status as passenger or worker, you have different legal remedies. You should contact a personal injury lawyer if you are an injured passenger and have questions regarding your situation. If you are a seaman or harbor worker you will want to speak to a lawyer who is knowledgeable in maritime law.