Maritime Personal Injury Lawyers

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 How Are Maritime Workers Protected by the Law?

Depending on their occupational category, maritime workers are protected. The Jones Act protects traditional seamen and those who travel on the high seas. The Jones Act allows for responsibility without the boat owner demonstrating fault. General tort law (negligence) and workers’ compensation regulations cover harbor workers and other shipyard workers.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Maritime Personal Injury?

Maritime personal injury cases focus upon questions of negligence, particularly those involving negligent boat owners and boat crew.

To Whom Do These Laws Apply?

Typically, maritime personal injury recovery laws apply to the following classes of people:

  • Longshoremen (people who load and unload goods) (those who load and unload cargo)
  • Maintenance and repair personnel (ship cleaners, tank cleaners, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, etc.)
  • Other non-seamen or those whose vocations require them to remain aboard vessels on navigable waters, doing responsibilities similar to those performed by seamen, who are members of a ship’s company but do not go to sea
  • Boat owners and boat companies’ passengers and guests

What Exactly Is the Jones Act?

Seamen harmed on a ship may seek compensation under the Jones Act. The measure also provides for the families of mariners slain in action.

What Constitutes a “Seaman” in the Jones Act and General Maritime Law?

To be considered a “seaman” and eligible for Jones Act coverage, an individual must meet the following requirements:

  1. The vessel on which you were harmed must have been “in navigation” at sea or in a body of water related to interstate or international trade when you were hurt.
  2. You must spend a significant portion of your working time on board the vessel.

Jones Act Claims for Negligence

A seaman who suffers a work-related injury has seven days under the Jones Act to report it.
When at sea, seamen often report incidents and injuries to their captains or supervisors. A sailor should report an accident and injury as quickly as feasible. Insurers may argue that the damage was not serious due to the seaman’s delayed report.

A seaman may be required by their employer to complete an accident report. If the seaman takes medication to address an injury, they may request that the report be delayed. In their report, the sailor may be requested to identify the person or entity responsible for the accident or injury.

If the seaman fails to demonstrate that the employer was at fault, it may undermine the seaman’s Jones Act claim. After getting medical treatment, a sailor should not settle or resolve a Jones Act claim. Following treatment, the seaman will know the total medical bills and lost pay.

Is a Boat Owner Obligated to its Passengers?

As a common carrier of passengers, the vessel is responsible for safe transportation. That responsibility, in general, is to safely embark the passenger, transport him to his destination, and ensure that he has safely disembarked.

During the journey, these responsibilities include protecting passengers from danger, whether at the hands of the ship’s crew or fellow passengers, and any injury caused by the vessel’s negligence.

Personal Injuries: Can Small Boat Owners Be Held Liable?

Small boat owners who fail to take reasonable care may be held accountable for personal harm.

Some examples of failure to use reasonable care include being unfamiliar with the waters they are navigating, failing to familiarize themselves with those waterways, and operating vessels at unsafe speeds.

What Is Unseaworthiness?

A seaman who is injured or becomes ill while serving on a vessel has three primary causes of action: maintenance and cure, the Jones Act, and the unseaworthiness doctrine.

Maintenance and cure generally refer to providing medical treatment and a daily living stipend to injured or ill marine workers while they recover. Injured seafarers could claim directly from their employers under the Jones Act if their injuries were caused by the vessel owner’s or the crew’s carelessness.

When Does a Vessel Become “Seaworthy”?

To be considered “seaworthy,” a vessel must:

  • Always provide proper equipment and safety gear to mariners.
  • Make a safe atmosphere for a sailor to work and live in.
  • Follow all safety regulations when operating vessels.

The Jones Act protects the following workers:

  • Fishermen
  • Workers on tugboats
  • Workers on a barge
  • Employees on cruise ships
  • Ferry operators
  • Workers in the construction industry who work on ships or barges
  • Workers on oil platforms

Who Has the Right to File an Unseaworthiness Claim?

Seamen or their families file most unseaworthiness lawsuits against the vessel’s owner, who may also be their employment. The seaworthiness theory does not hold a hired vessel accountable, but its owner may be held liable for negligence based on the vessel’s unseaworthiness.

A family member may file a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act in circumstances of death on the high seas caused by an unseaworthy vessel. A family may claim damages in the form of lost services under this act.

What Is the Relationship Between the Unseaworthiness Doctrine and the Jones Act?

The unseaworthiness doctrine and the Jones Act occasionally intersect. However, various factors are involved in each cause of action. Furthermore, injured sailors have varied remedies depending on the type of claim.

The shipowner’s exclusive and non-delegable responsibility is to ensure the ship’s seaworthiness. Under the unseaworthiness concept, a seaman must prove that an unseaworthy condition existed aboard the ship and caused the seaman’s damage.

On the other hand, the Jones Act requires a seaman to demonstrate that their harm was caused by the carelessness of their employer or one of its workers. A seaman may request a jury trial for unseaworthiness doctrine, and Jones Act claims.

The Jones Act provides limited damages in addition to past and future lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and disability. Surviving family members are entitled to compensation under the Jones Act for the seaman’s conscious pain, suffering, and loss of financial support.

Under the unseaworthiness theory, a seaman may claim any customary legal damages.

What Is a Bill of Lading?

Most maritime business activity is the international carriage or transport of goods. A bill of lading is essential in this type of transaction. A bill of lading involves the carrier (ship owner), the vendor of goods, and the purchaser.

What Happens If My Shipment Is Lost or Damaged at Sea?

The Carriage of Commodities by Sea Act (COGSA) is the primary statute governing compensation for lost or damaged goods in maritime settings. COGSA mandates ship owners to do the following:

  • Make their ships seaworthy.
  • They must properly equip, supply, and man their ships.
  • Make the holds, cooling compartments, and all other locations where the items will be housed ready for reception, preservation, and transportation.

If ship owners fail to do the above, they may be held accountable for damaged or lost commodities. COGSA applies only to overseas shipments.

What Is the Relationship Between International Law and Maritime Law?

Admiralty and marine law are inextricably linked to international law. A high-seas disagreement can be difficult to resolve. The flag of the ship determines which admiralty laws apply. For example, a ship flying the French flag in American waters is subject to French Admiralty Law.

Should I Speak with a Lawyer About a Maritime Personal Injury?

You have varied legal options depending on whether you are a passenger or a worker. If you are an injured passenger with questions about your condition, contact a personal injury lawyer. If you are a sailor or harbor worker, consult a lawyer familiar with maritime law.

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