What Is a Maritime Injury?

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When a ship’s crew member sustains an injury while the ship is in navigable U.S. water, the incident is referred to as a maritime injury. Maritime employees are not eligible for typical workers’ compensation, but they do have legal options for pursuing reimbursement for injuries sustained on the job. The Jones Act or maritime law may be used to seek compensation for the worker.

The Jones Act

We will examine the statute itself to help you comprehend what constitutes a marine injury. According to the Jones Act, specifically 46 U.S. Code 30101, damages caused by a “vessel on navigable waters” fall under the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, even if the harm takes place on land. Both lethal and non-fatal injuries are possible.

Some people who operate near or on navigable water are covered by the Jones Act, but not all of them are. Traditional marine occupations such as harbor construction, shipbuilding, ship repair, and longshore labor have their own federal law that offers legal recourse if an employee is injured on the job. These workers must pursue their injury claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, according to the Department of Labor (LWHCA).

The Confusion About Seamen

The term “seamen” is not defined in the Jones Act, but it does apply to injured seamen. The Jones Act and the LWHCA are mutually exclusive, so if you are entitled for benefits under one of them, you cannot receive them under the other.

Seamen, whom the LWHCA defines as a vessel’s master or crew, are not included. The exclusion language of the LHWCA and the reading of the two laws combined have led many courts to conclude that the masters and crew of ships on navigable water are covered by the Jones Act.

According to the Department of Labor, performing work related to navigation or other forms of transportation is not a requirement for seaman status. It is sufficient if a worker’s work enables the vessel to operate and complete its objective.

Legal Remedies for Maritime Injuries

A seaman who sustains losses has a number of possibilities for pursuing a claim for compensation. They can seek redress under the Jones Act or basic maritime law. They had the option of bringing a civil complaint in either a state or federal court.

General Maritime Law

The employer is obligated to provide maintenance and cure benefits when a worker is injured at sea. Up until they can return to their position or the tour is over, the seaman must pay for daily living expenses including housing and board. The word “cure” refers to medical expenses. As long as the employee is unable to recover from their injuries with further medical treatment, the employer is responsible for covering their medical bills.

The injured party may sue the ship’s owner for financial compensation if they can prove that the injury was caused by the crew’s or the vessel’s lack of seaworthiness. A seaworthy boat must be provided by the boat’s owner. The owner cannot evade culpability by assigning this obligation to someone else.

Unseaworthiness can result from a variety of factors, including unsafe working conditions, a lack of safety equipment or training, a crew deficit, slipping and falling dangers, and long work hours. Conditions might not be seaworthy due to certain crew member issues.

Compensation Under the Jones Act

A seaman who has an injury may sue their employer under the Jones Act to recover monetary compensation for their losses. In order to receive a jury trial, the plaintiff may bring the complaint in either state or federal civil courts. The employer is unable to get the case transferred to federal court if the injured worker files suit in a state court.

Successful Jones Act claimants may be entitled to recover:

  • Lost wages from the employee’s unpaid time away due to injuries
  • future anticipated wage loss as a result of the injury
  • The affordable cost of their ailments’ medical care
  • General pain and suffering compensation for the plaintiff’s physical hardship and mental anguish as a result of the incident and their injuries

These damages have no fixed dollar sum. The particular facts of the case will determine how much compensation the plaintiff can seek. Every situation is unique. Even if two sailors are hurt in the same mishap, their injuries could be very different. The amount of damages a seaman may receive for a maritime injury depends on a number of circumstances, including:

  • The kind and extent of the wounds
  • The medical procedures the sailor underwent Any negative affects or issues the plaintiff faced
  • how nicely the victim’s wounds recovered
  • after receiving medical care, the injuries still cause residual limits and impairments

Preserving Your Rights Under the Jones Act

Under the Jones Act, wounded seafarers have the right to seek compensation, but this right is not perpetual. According to 46 U.S.C. 30106, injured sailors have a limited amount of time to file a claim. This “countdown” starts on the accident date. Depending on the specifics of your situation, the deadline you must file by may change.

If the pertinent deadline is missed, you forfeit your right to compensation under this legislation. So, if you want to pursue damages, moving swiftly is crucial.

Types of Maritime Injury Warrant Compensation

You may be eligible for compensation if you can demonstrate that your harm was caused directly by the performance of your duties and/or that another party’s carelessness played a role. Such harms could consist of, but not be limited to:

  • Fatal injuries
  • Abrasions
  • Burns
  • Bone fractures (broken bones)
  • Temporary or permanent disability (e.g., blindness or the loss of a limb)
  • Concussions and other head injuries

There are numerous potential causes for these injuries, including:

  • Being exposed to toxic substances or materials
  • Electrocution
  • Being struck on the head by falling equipment
  • Falling from a height or into an uncovered hole or pit
  • Being trapped beneath, behind, or between equipment
  • Slippery surfaces that increase the risk of falling

Proving You Suffered a Maritime Injury

Regardless of the type of injury you sustained, receiving compensation is frequently essential to helping you support your family while you recover—or in the long run, if you are never again able to work in the same capacity. You can take the following actions to raise your chances of obtaining just compensation.

Report Your Injury Right Away

 Regardless of the type of injury you sustained, receiving compensation is frequently essential to helping you support your family while you recover—or in the long run, if you are never again able to work in the same capacity. You can take the following actions to raise your chances of obtaining just compensation.

Report Your Injury Right Away

The maritime injury must be reported to your employer as soon as feasible (after receiving medical treatment, if your wounds are serious or life-threatening). Any delay between the incident and your report could give the impression that your employer was not to blame for the harm.

Houston Maritime Injury Lawyer

Be as specific as you can while reporting the injury. Again, omissions might cast doubt on your case.

Collect Evidence

Just stating that you were injured at sea is insufficient. You must bolster and support your argument using data from reliable sources, such as:

  • Coworker testimony from those who saw the accident or are knowledgeable about the working environment
  • health records
  • Any audiovisual materials that are available
  • Expert testimony that can attest to the harm and its most likely source
  • Documentation you have, such as invoices and receipts, demonstrating the severity of your injuries

Consider Hiring a Maritime Injury Attorney

It can be highly stressful to do all of the aforementioned things in addition to other required things like talking to insurance companies or presenting your case in court. You don’t have to tackle it all by yourself; working with a personal injury lawyer with experience in situations similar to yours may allow you to pursue damages while concentrating on your mental and physical rehabilitation.

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