Maritime Injury | Admiralty Law & Maritime Injury Lawsuits

May 29, 2017
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Maritime & Admiralty Law

Making a living on the high seas is inherently dangerous work. Injuries or illness can happen any time and it is a worker’s right to recover damages if their injury was the result of employer negligence.

The maritime and admirably laws of the United States and internationally make it possible for seamen and dock workers to get the compensation they deserve when they are injured or fall sick on the job.

There are a number of legislative acts that have been passed within the last 100 years that give workers on the high seas the right to sue their negligent employers, including the Jones Act, the Death on the High Seas Act and the Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act.

If you were injured while working as a seaman, dock worker, oil rig worker, or were injured in a cruise ship accident, you have rights and may be entitled to compensation. It is imperative that you contact an experienced maritime lawyer or attorney to get the compensation you deserve.

The Jones Act

The Jones Act of 1920 was an important piece of legislation that gave injured seamen the right to sue their employers for the first time. Under the act, seaman could recover damages from their employers for injuries that occurred as a result of negligence.

The Act operates under the “maintenance and cure” principal. Seaman are entitled to maintenance and cure from their employers should they get injured — “maintenance” is a seaman’s daily wages and “cure” is the seaman’s medical costs.

Seaman who are injured on the job may be entitled to some of the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of support to widow or dependents
  • Funeral expenses
  • Mental anguish

In order to receive compensation under the Jones Act, an employee must show that their employer was negligent. An employer may be found negligent if they:

  • Fail to maintain safe equipment
  • Do not take care to select competent a master and crewman
  • Give negligent orders
  • Require overtime
  • Fail to avoid bad weather
  • Fail to provide medical treatment
  • Fail to rescue
  • Fail to properly supervise

The Jones Act gives seaman about 3 years to file a claim after the date of the initial incident before the statute of limitations runs out. Under certain circumstance, the statute of limitations may be even shorter. It is important that you speak with a maritime attorney as soon as possible after you are injured to ensure you are entitled to the compensation you deserve.

Death on the High Seas Act

The Death on the High Seas Act of 1920, or DOSHA, gave families of seaman the right to recover damages should their loved one die offshore as a result of negligence or a wrongful act.

This piece of legislation is important for families who might struggle to make ends meet following the death of their loved one. The act allows spouses, children and other dependents to purse legal action if the loss of their loved one was caused by negligence or unseaworthiness. Seaworthiness relates to a vessel’s condition. Owners and operators of a vessel must be sure it is in proper and safe working condition with an adequate crew or else they are liable for injuries.

Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act

The Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act of 1927 extended the right to pursue legal action for injuries to dock workers and and other ship service operators who do not sail.

The Act allows compensation for injured, non-sailing maritime workers, including those involved in the loading, unloading, repairing, or building of a vessel. The law also allows spouses, children and other family members or dependents to receive survivor benefits should their loved one die on the job.

Cruise Ship Accidents

When a person is injured on a cruise ship, the complex laws and legal issues that surround the case can be daunting. That’s why you need an experienced cruise ship injury lawyer who is knowledgeable in the laws that govern cruise ship accidents.

Cruise ship accidents can fall under maritime and admiralty law, as well as international and foreign state laws. This makes choosing an experienced lawyer all the more important.

On top of these complex issues, cruise ship injuries differ from personal injuries that occur on land because the statute of limitations can be significantly shorter. In many cases, people only have up to 1 year after the injury to file a lawsuit. This is because large cruise ship companies often slip special provisions into the fine print of the passenger ticket. These provisions shorten the time you have to file a lawsuit after you’ve been injured.

If you are injured on a cruise ship, you must act quickly in order to file a claim for compensation before the statue of limitations runs out. You may only have up to 1 year after the injury took place to file a claim.

Oil Rig & Offshore Drilling

The United States produces billion of gallons of oil each year. Oil rigs can be an incredibly dangerous environment to work in. Workers are exposed to risky conditions and illness or injury is not uncommon.

The Jones Act provides workers injured in offshore oil rig accidents a legal pathway to collect damages from their employers. If an employer is found negligent, workers may be entitled to financial compensation for the injuries they sustained.

In order to collect damages under the Jones Act, the injured worker must prove that their employer was negligent and that that negligence led to their injuries.

An employer may be found negligent if they:

  • fail to maintain a safe working environment and safe equipment
  • give negligent orders that result in injury
  • fail to properly supervise
  • fail to select competent masters and other crew members
  • fail to provide medical treatment when needed

If the employer is found negligent, Injured oil rig workers may be able to college damages, including:

  • medical expenses
  • lost wages
  • pain and suffering
  • mental anguish
  • loss of support to widow or dependents in case of death
  • funeral expenses

The statute of limitations under the Jones Act is typically 3 years. This gives workers about 3 years to file a lawsuit against their employer. However, it is important to contact an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible, because the statute of limitations could change depending on the circumstances of the case.

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