Can I File A Claim Under Maritime Law?
by Dennis M. McElwee on October 25, 2011
Whether you work as a seaman, dockworker or offshore laborer, if you’ve been injured during the course of your marine industry job then you likely have rights under maritime law. Depending on your occupation, your injury claim is subject to different requirements and compensation rules.
Qualified maritime lawyers can help you determine which laws are applicable in your situation and get you the maximum compensation possible.
Who Qualifies As A Maritime Worker?
Not everyone who is a marine worker is regularly employed on a vessel. Maritime law distinguishes between seamen and non-seamen. If you work as a seaman, you can likely file a claim under the Jones Act if you’ve been injured at work.
Seamen are crewmembers of a vessel that is in navigation and not permanently moored or connected to land-based utilities. They must also contribute to the vessel’s function or navigation.
Marine workers not in that category also have rights. Examples of non-seamen jobs that might be eligible to file injured worker claims include:
1. Unloading/loading vessels
2. Repairing/building vessels
3. Pier, wharf, dry dock or terminal worker
If you work in one of these capacities and have been injured on the job, you may be eligible for compensation under the Longshore and Harber Workers Compensation Act. An experienced maritime lawyer will be able to determine whether your claim falls under this law.
Claims Under The Jones Act
An injured seaman is eligible for damages from their maritime employer under the Jones Act if the employer or a co-worker’s negligence caused the injury.
Some examples of possible claims include:
1. Failing to provide a safe work environment
2. Violation of safety statutes
3. Failing to provide adequate medical care
4. Negligence of other employees for which employee is responsible
5. Vessel not reasonably fit for intended use
These are just some of the sustainable bases for Jones Act cases. If you’ve been involved in a maritime piracy incident, this you could also have a claim under this law. A maritime piracy attorney can best advise you on what laws you have rights under.
Claims under this law must generally be brought within three years of the injury and can provide compensation for damages that are considerably larger payouts than those under the Worker’s Compensation Act.
Other claims that fall under this maritime law are Maintenance and Cure. Maintenance is a daily subsistence rate a Jones Act employer is required to pay to injured workers without considering fault or negligence. Cure is the payment of reasonable medical expenses during your time of recovery. These claims can be filed in addition to or separate from negligence claims.
Claims Under The Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act
For workers deemed non-seamen, it is still possible to be eligible for a maritime law claim. Injured workers who are eligible to file claims under the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act do not have to prove employer negligence to qualify for benefits.
LHWCA can provide the following benefits for eligible workers who are injured or fall ill as a result of their employment: medical costs, disability payments and wrongful death benefits for families of workers killed during employment.
If you’re a maritime worker who has been injured on the job, contact the experienced maritime attorneys at Schechter McElwee Shaffer & Harris today for a free consultation.