What are maritime injury laws? They refer to when an employee on a ship gets hurt when a vessel is in the US navigable waters. These laws are codified in the constitution and the judiciary act of 1789. Falling under the federal jurisdiction, these laws help in regulating legal disputes. The disputes pertain to maritime employees and sea navigation.
The laws also take care of disputes about trade and cargo transport. Most people equate maritime injury laws with on-the-job injuries. But these accidents also happen in recreational settings.
If you get injured on the job, there are benefits to seeking legal representation from an experienced maritime injury lawyer. This should happen as soon as the injury takes place. That’s because of the statutes of limitation for filing a maritime injury claim. Waiting too long to file a claim could mean being unable to seek compensation for damages.
Maritime Injury Laws
Assuming you got injured in a maritime accident and would like to file a claim, this is the place. We will help you to understand how to go about claiming compensation. But before we get there, here are some of the common situations where accidents can occur:
- Rig floor accidents
- Slip and trip accidents
- Wire and cable accidents
- Accidents due to lifting heavy weights
- Transferring accidents when moving from one location to another
Maritime injury cases can be complicated. They are quite different from the typical car accident injury claims, for instance. This is in terms of complexity and benefits. Let’s now get to the real business. The maritime laws you must know before filing for a personal injury claim.
1. Death on High Seas Act
Death on high seas refers to a death that occurs beyond the territorial seas of a state. The law provides recovery damages if the death was caused by a wrongful act or negligence. A DOHSA claim is filed on behalf of the deceased person.
The following persons are the ones permitted to file the claim:
- The surviving spouse. This is the person who was married to the deceased person at the time of death. Common-law spouses are also recognized as beneficiaries.
- Children. Biological and stepchildren who’ve suffered pecuniary losses are held as beneficiaries.
- Parents. Dependent parents of the deceased are considered beneficiaries. Non-dependent parents cannot claim compensation.
- Siblings who were dependent on the deceased are considered beneficiaries.
The money that dependents get is based on the compensation the deceased would have received. It’s also calculated based on the care and guidance the children will live without. Below are the kind of damages that are recoverable under DOHSA:
- Loss of services
- Loss of inheritance
- Financial support
- Funeral expenses
- Pre-death pain and suffering
- Nurture of the bereaved children
2. Passenger Personal Injury
Maritime injury laws cover the passengers that were on the ship if they got hurt at sea. Injured passengers have the right to file a lawsuit against the owner of the ship. This is due to the crew’s or ship owner’s negligence.
If, for instance, you fall on a flight of steps while on a cruise ship, you have the right to file for damages. But that’s only if the fall occurred due to a broken rail. The statute of limitation for a passenger to file a lawsuit is three years.
Unfortunately, passengers are typically limited to a one-year statute of limitation. That’s because there are usually limitations that are listed on the passenger’s ticket.
3. Maintenance and Cure
You are entitled to maintenance and cure benefits should you get injured in the line of duty. Thus, regardless of how and when the accident happened, you should seek compensation.
Maintenance and cure cover your daily living expenses during recovery. This includes rent, utilities, food, and taxes. Medical expenses are also covered. This includes the costs associated with traveling to medical appointments.
Maintenance and cure cover for the injured seamen until they receive a clean bill of health. A qualified physician should confirm that you can go back to work.
If you feel like you aren’t recovered despite the doctor’s report, you can get a second and third medical opinion. That’s because getting back to work if you aren’t recovered would mean eliminating the benefits you’re entitled to.
4. The Jones Act
The Jones act is unlike the maintenance and cure. That’s because when you seek a claim under this act, you must prove that your injuries were due to negligence. This means that an employer is liable for damages if an injury happens.
You should note that the burden of proof in the Jones Act is lower compared to the personal injury cases. Under maritime law, you must prove that the employer played a role in your accident no matter how small. The following are the reasons for employer liability under the jones act:
- An assault by a coworker
- Spills on the ship’s deck such as grease
- Failing to train employees before assigning them tasks
- Failing to place warning signs around dangerous areas
- Failure to ensure that the equipment parts are up to date and are working as they should
The following are the damages under the jones act for which you can seek compensation:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Losing the capacity to earn
The amount in damages is based on the severity of the injury and the details surrounding a person.
It’s also important to remember that you should never sign any document given to you by the employer. Apart from the accident report which you must sign, always consult your lawyer. That’s because an employer can downplay their responsibility when an accident happens.
5. Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
This act compensates employees who get injured while on or near navigable waters. The specific locations that are covered by this act include:
- Unloading areas
- Ship repair spaces
- Cargo vessel loading
- Pier and deck work sites
Any maritime worker including office and rental employees are covered under this act. However, the workers who are eligible for state compensation are excluded.
Note that if you wish to make a claim under this act, you have up to one year from the date of the injury. This statute of limitation can also start after your employer has stopped paying the benefits. But, if you qualify for compensation under this act, you’re advised to file a formal claim within one year.
Below are some of the injuries covered under this act:
- Loss of organs or limbs
Compensation for your injuries under this act must continue throughout your recovery journey.
Maritime laws are used to govern private, domestic, and international nautical matters. The laws are meant to protect the injured maritime workers. They allow them to claim damages and certain benefits.
We know this article has been informative and now you know how to go about seeking compensation. And don’t forget to seek the services of a maritime injury lawyer while at it.