Maritime injury law is different than land-based personal injury law. It is important to consult an attorney who is well-versed in Maritime Law and understands a maritime worker’s legal rights and options.
Examples of maritime workers protected under Federal Maritime Law include:
- Commercial Fishermen
- Tugboat Crew
- Ferry Workers
- Barge Workers
- Commercial Divers
- Workers on a pier, wharf, or dock
- Cargo workers on a terminal or marine railway
- Stevedores, i.e., those employed or contracted to load or unload cargo
- Workers who build, repair, or dismantle vessels 65 feet in length or more
Maritime work is a dangerous occupation. The risk of being injured in a maritime accident is present every day a maritime worker is on the job. It has been estimated that over 70% of all maritime accidents occur due to negligence. Some common causes of maritime injuries include slip and falls, collisions, falling or swinging objects, burns, electrical, unsafe working conditions, cargo handling failure, broken equipment, lack of safety gear, lack of safety training, defective equipment, and fishing accidents.
Maritime injuries can be serious and can involve temporary or permanent:
- Head Injuries
- Brain Injuries
- Lost Limbs
- Amputated Fingers
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Back and Neck Injuries
- Knee, Shoulder and Elbow Injuries
- Eye injuries
- Chemical Burns
Legal Rights and Options for Maritime Workers
Congress has created several acts and regulations to protect maritime workers in the event of injury. These acts and regulations, developed over 200 years of admiralty law, were created to hold responsible parties accountable should injuries or death occur.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law that gives seaman who were injured in the course of their employment the right to sue their employer for personal injury damages. The Jones Act protects a seaman if an employer is responsible for the seaman’s injury. Employers have a non-delegable duty to protect their workers while on the job. This includes, as but a few examples, proving adequate training and safety gear, a seaworthy vessel with properly functioning equipment, and a safe work environment.
The Longshore Harbor and Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA)
While the Jones Act protects seamen if injured, the LHWCA protects maritime workers whose work is based on shore, for example workers on a pier, wharf, terminal, marine railway, and cargo workers, and those who build, repair, or dismantle vessels 65 feet in length or more. The LHWCA is a workers’ compensation act, not unlike a state worker’s compensation act. The LHWCA, however, provides greater benefits to an injured seaman than a state workers’ compensation act does.
The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
Known as DOHSA - the Death on the High Seas Act was enacted by the United States Congress in the year 1920 to provide financial compensations for monetary losses incurred by a family because of a seaman’s death while in the active line of duty. Amendments have included compensation for the family for trauma and mental anguish facedbecause of the seaman’s death.
Maintenance and Cure
Maintenance and cure is an old aspect of maritime law that requires a maritime lawyer to provide care for injured seaman regardless of who is at fault for the seaman’s injury.
“Maintenance”means the money that the seaman’s employer is obligated to pay the seamanfor room and board. The amount that the employer pays you is dependent on how much it costs the seaman to live on land. Maintenance includes such expenses as the seaman’s rent, mortgage, utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and food.
“Cure” is the injured seaman’s medical expenses the employer must pay until the seaman reaches a point of maximum medical improvement. The medical expenses must be reasonable and related to the seaman’s injury.
Learn Your Rights and Options Following a Maritime Injury
Financial compensation is available to maritime workers who’ve been injured while working, but the amount will greatly depend upon the circumstances surrounding the accident and the severity of the injuries. It’s important to understand your options before signing any paperwork that dismisses your injuries or compromises the compensation you deserve.
You must get the process started as soon as possible, before the statute of limitations run out. When seeking for maritime compensation and benefits, the sooner you get your case started, the better.
Schedule a Free Consultation with San Diego Maritime Injury Lawyer Michael Wales.
Call Now 619-493-1700