When is it Time to Hire a Maritime Law Lawyer?
by Matthew D. Shaffer on August 08, 2012
Maritime law covers events that happen on an ocean or in related businesses or organizations. The business relations between sailors and their employers, accidents in shipyards, and injuries on cruise ships are all covered by maritime law. If you are or might be involved in a maritime lawsuit, you need a maritime law lawyer.
Maritime Law Is A Specialty
Maritime law is a field of practice that requires a great deal of special knowledge and experience. There is an entire separate body of laws and precedents that govern maritime cases. To be successful in this field, an attorney must be dedicated to learning these laws and passionate about helping people who are impacted by them.
That is why you need to consult a maritime law lawyer if you are a party in a maritime lawsuit. If you have been injured while working on a refinery, if you have been hurt while working as a ship's crew member, or if you are a longshoreman who has been injured on the job, you need a lawyer that knows maritime law. A prime example of this is cases involving the Jones Act.
The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a law that regulates how seamen are compensated when they are injured while working aboard their ship. It has been modified and added to by many court precedents. The Jones Act and a similar law covering longshoremen and other port workers take the place of Worker's Compensation for the people that they cover.
Unlike with Worker's Compensation, you must be able to prove some degree of negligence on the part of your employer to be eligible for benefits. If awarded, the benefits may be much higher than those offered by Worker's Compensation.
Other considerations include whether the vessel on which you were working is covered by the act and whether you were officially assigned to the vessel at the time of the injury.
Maintenance And Cure
If you are injured while acting as a crew member assigned to an eligible vessel under the Jones Act, you are entitled to maintenance and cure. These apply whether or not there was any employer negligence involved.
Cure covers medical expenses, from those immediately following the injury to later expenses like physical therapy. Maintenance pays for room and board and other living expenses while you are unable to work.
The provisions of the Jones Act are complex. Unfortunately, employers sometimes try to avoid meeting their obligations under this law. If you have been hurt while working on board a ship, it may take a maritime lawsuit to get your compensation. You need an experienced maritime law lawyer to guide you, one who knows your rights and will fight to protect them.
There are many other aspects of maritime law. Personal vessels, diving and fishing boats and even piracy are all covered under these laws. If you are in any way involved in an injury that is covered by maritime law, don't go to just any lawyer for advice. Choose one who knows all of the intricacies and ramifications of maritime law.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact the maritime lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris to find out if you have a maritime claim.