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Maritime Accidents

Oliveira Law, PLLC > Vehicle Accident > Maritime Accidents

Trouble at Sea: Maritime Accident Lawsuits

Despite the laws that are in place to protect the rights of those who work at sea, there are still some workers who experience an injury and are not properly accommodated as they should have been. Workers must be familiar with what their rights are when an unfortunate event happens while working.

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Protecting Maritime Workers

Maritime law (also known as admiralty law) has international laws, rules, regulations in place to handle all issues and concerns. The law pertains to injuries, shipping, passengers, transportation, goods, and more.

A maritime worker is any employee that primarily works out at sea, regardless of the type of boat or ship they are working aboard. The boats or ships could be:

  • Cruise ships
  • Casino ships
  • Barges
  • Ocean/river vessels
  • Oil rigs
  • Supply ships
  • Towboats
  • Fishing vessels

There are a few acts that have been created to protect them if they ever experience injuries.

The Jones Act (Merchant Maritime Act of 1920)

The Jones Act protects maritime workers with dangerous jobs that occupy some of the boats described. It is to ensure the compensation for personal injury at the fault of another party.

The maritime worker must work at least 30% of the time on navigable waters. The injury must have happened during working on the vessel.

The Longshore and Harbors Workers’ Compensation

This act was put in place for any maritime workers not covered under the Jones Act. There is no requirement to show proof of negligence under this act.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

This is another act to cover those who cannot qualify under the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbors Workers’ Compensation Act. This is to protect those who work closer to shore and don’t qualify as seamen.

Common Injuries While at Sea

Some of the most common injuries workers experience while working on boats are:

  • Fractures
  • Joint damage
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Amputation
  • Repetitive stress injuries

Many maritime workers have dangerous jobs, which is why maritime laws are put in place. The possibility of getting hurt while working is higher than average. Workers at sea have even had injuries from:

  • Assault from a crew member
  • Injuries due to lack of employer training
  • Injuries from poor maintenance to equipment
  • Injuries from grease/oil stuck in the trap

Despite what the injury was or its cause, filing a claim comes down to a couple of other reasons.

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Common Reasons to File a Claim

Since maritime law exists to protect the workers at sea, some employers abide by the rights of the workers they employ. In the event that the maritime worker has to file a claim, it’s normally because the employer will not compensate them for the work injury or they are denied any of their rights.

The worker has the right to receive compensation for wages, expenses, and pain and suffering. Some employers will try to be found not at fault and ignore allegations. Knowing what to do when the injury occurs is important in order to have a solid claim.

What to Do If Injured at Sea

Get immediate medical attention no matter how minor the injury. Reports for injuries are usually submitted within a week. If there are follow up appointments scheduled, make sure you go to each one. You will get well-documented evidence of injury and missing appointments could work in the defendant’s favor.

Pictures of the scene of the injury and the injury itself are important when gathering evidence. Provide this evidence when consulting with the lawyer who is experienced in maritime cases.

A settlement can be reached between the injured party and those liable. Settlements typically are the result of these cases because the employers do not want any consequences for violating maritime law. If the injured party decides they are not in agreement with the initial negotiations, the lawsuit can be filed and the case goes to trial.

The case going to trial will draw out the case and the legal costs. The amount awarded to the plaintiff is at the decision of the court.

The costs associated with a workplace injury can vary and be extensive. Costs to be included in the claim are:

  • Medical costs (current and future)
  • Loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation
  • Loss of consortium (spouse claim)
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Nursing care

Medical costs and lawyer fees will be deducted upon receiving compensation. Remember that cases that go to trial have higher legal costs due to increased work for the lawyer.

It can always be risky working at sea to earn a living. Maritime law exists but a personal attorney can help make sure you get what you deserve from the employer if hurt. Contact Oliveira Law where we specialize in personal injury cases and help you with your injury claim.