If you’ve recently been injured in a maritime work accident, you may have several questions:
- Will I still receive wages while I’m unable to work?
- Will I get help for my medical bills?
- What types of financial compensation are available?
- Can I sue my employer if my injury was their fault?
- What kind of damages can I recover in a lawsuit?
- When should I talk to a lawyer?
Consider meeting with an experienced maritime lawyer who can answer your work injury concerns.
Our experienced maritime work injury lawyers can help you better understand your legal rights and secure the full financial compensation you’re entitled to.
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All across America’s numerous waterways, various maritime employees work together to form a workforce that helps power our economy. From the Northeastern ports in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico and on rivers and lakes in between, these workers are forced to undergo hazardous working conditions. This type of work is also physically demanding. Because of the hazardous and physical nature of this line of work, maritime workers often suffer serious injuries while on the job.
If you’ve recently been injured while working on a sea vessel or in a port, dock, harbor, or other maritime setting, it’s important to know your rights. However, filing a claim for a maritime work injury is often more complex than land-based workers’ compensation claims. These injuries are governed by a complex set of statutes known as maritime law. There are numerous routes to compensation under maritime law, and the right route for you depends on the nature of your injury, your work duties, and other factors.
Available Forms Of Compensation
Depending on your classification as a worker, you may be eligible for one of the following forms of compensation:
- Jones Act Claim – Seamen, crew members, and other workers who spend at least 30% of their work hours in the service of a vessel can hold their employers liable when negligence contributes to a work injury, under the Jones Act.
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act – Maritime workers in docks, harbors, ports, and other on-shore maritime work settings are not covered under the Jones Act, but can recover compensation for injury-related expenses in a LHWCA claim.
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOSHA) benefits for surviving families – When a fatal accident occurs due to negligence more than 3 miles off the coast of US territory, surviving families can recover financial compensation in a DOSHA claim.
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When Is A Jones Act Claim An Option?
In order to file a Jones Act claim, you must meet the Act’s definition of a “seaman”. Any crew member who spends at least 30% of their work hours on board or in the service of a vessel on navigable waters is covered under the Jones Act. Ship crew members, commercial fishermen, oil rig workers, cruise ship employees, and other workers on navigable waters are all covered under the Jones Act.
Maintenance and Cure
This Act provides automatic no-fault benefits for any work-related injury or illness. Similar to what you’d receive in a land-based workers’ comp claim, maintenance and cure benefits provide financial compensation for medical expenses and necessary daily living expenses, such as rent and groceries. Since maritime workers generally are not covered under workers’ comp, receiving your maintenance and care benefits is a vital first step in after a serious work injury.
If the negligence of a co-worker, your employer, or your vessel’s owner caused your injury, you have the option to hold them liable for injury-related expenses. If your employer failed to keep your workplace safe and free of hazards, or even if a co-worker injured you through a negligent act, you recover damages in a Jones Act claim.
A few common examples of negligence include:
- Slip or trip and fall hazards from inadequate maintenance
- Poorly trained staff
- Failing to follow safety rules
- Poorly maintained or defective equipment
If your work vessel has a dangerous or defective condition or is an unsafe work environment in any way, the ship may be considered unseaworthy. The owners of unseaworthy vessels can also be held liable for damages following the injury of a maritime worker.
Some dangerous conditions which could make a vessel unseaworthy include:
- Missing guard rails and handrails
- Defective gear and machinery
- Broken steps, staircases, and walking surfaces
If you’ve recently suffered a serious injury due to an unsafe vessel or unsafe working conditions, consider speaking with a maritime injury lawyer about holding negligent parties liable for damages related to your injury.
What Should I Know About Filing A LHWCA Claim?
Maritime workers who aren’t covered under the Jones Act can recover financial compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This Act mainly applies to maritime employees in workplaces which involve loading, unloading, repairing, and building vessels.
Who Is Covered?
Specific employees covered under the LHWCA include:
- Longshore workers
- Ship repair staff
- Ship breakers
- Harbor construction workers
Some non-maritime workers may also be covered if they work on navigable waters and are injured on those waters.
What Should I Do First?
If you’ve recently suffered a maritime work injury, there are a few first steps to keep in mind:
- Seek medical treatment
- File a written report with your employer
- Consider meeting with a lawyer
- File a written claim
When Should I Talk With A Lawyer?
It’s best to schedule an initial consultation as soon after your injury as possible. Our maritime injury firm offers free consultations, so you can learn more about your legal options with no obligation. If we determine that you need legal counsel for your claim, you’ll only be required to pay as a small percentage of your payout if and when we help you secure financial compensation.
The claims process for any maritime injury claim is complex and moves quickly. Many injured maritime workers have faith that their employers and insurance carriers will look out for their interests, but this faith is often unfounded. Remember that insurance companies increase their profits by denying claims, and that they have skilled lawyers on staff who specialize in these denials.
In order to give yourself the best chance at recover the full compensation you deserve, it’s likely best to consult with an experienced maritime injury lawyer early in the process. This way, you can get the benefits you need without an excessively long waiting period while you’re out of work. To learn more about your options, contact us today for a free consultation.