The maritime industry has higher rates of injury and death than many other industries. When a maritime worker is injured on the job, the worker should be provided with medical coverage and wage replacement for the time they are unable to return to work. If a seaman is injured because of an employer's negligence, the injured seaman may be able to file a lawsuit for damages caused by the accident.
State and federal laws generally provide for seaman and longshoremen protections after a workplace accident or injury. However, an injured longshoreman, seaman, or maritime worker may be denied benefits, leaving them without medical assistance and unable to provide for their family. A maritime injury lawyer can fight for monetary compensation, medical coverage, and other damages.
If you were injured in a maritime accident, talk to an experienced Cape Fear maritime injury attorney to make sure your claim is approved and you get all the compensation you deserve.
Maritime Industry Accidents
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), shipyard work has an injury-accident rate more than twice that of other construction and general industry jobs. This can include sudden accidents or injuries that are caused by repetitive motions.
While workers are at sea, it takes longer to access emergency medical care which can increase the damage done by injuries. Onshore, workers are dealing with slippery surfaces, moving large objects, operating heavy equipment, and surrounded by electricity, chemicals, and water. Examples of maritime injuries may include:
- Slip or trip injury,
- Falling overboard,
- Exposure to harmful chemicals or substances,
- Scaffolding accidents,
- Struck by an object,
- Inhalation of toxic fumes,
- Dock and pier accidents,
- Machinery accidents,
- Chemical burns,
- Electric shock, or
- Workplace violence.
Maritime Accident Injuries
These kinds of accidents can cause all types of injuries, ranging from minor to serious permanent injury. A maritime accident can cause a worker to be unable to return to work for days, weeks, or cause a permanent injury that limits their job prospects or leaves them unable to ever to return to work. Common injuries in maritime accidents include:
- Eye injury,
- Loss of limb,
- Broken bones,
- Nerve damage,
- Neck or back injury,
- Head injury,
- Ear injury,
- Paralysis, and
- Hand or foot injury.
Limited Time to File a Maritime Injury Claim
There may be a limited time to file a workers' compensation claim, negligence claim, or unseaworthiness claim for compensation and damages. The time limits may depend on the classification of the worker, cause of the accident, and when the injury was discovered. If your claim is not filed in time, your compensation could be reduced or your claim may be denied. In order to make sure your claim is filed in time, you should contact an experienced maritime injury lawyer.
Jones Act for Injured Seaman
The Jones Act is a federal law that provides protections for seamen who are injured on the job. Under the Jones Act, a seaman injured in the course of employment may elect to bring a civil action at law, with the right of trial by jury, against the employer.
However, there are Statutes of Limitation, or time limits, for filing claims under the Jones Act, so you need to proceed with your claim without delay. Make sure you contact your Jones Act lawyer as soon as possible so your claim will not be denied.
Who is Eligible to File a Jones Act Claim?
A “seaman” is generally a sea-based employee who contributes to the function of the vessel. Additionally, a maritime worker must have spent 30% of their career aboard a vessel in navigable waters. Depending on the job and type of vessel, seamen can include:
- Ship's officers,
- Bartenders, or
- Maintenance workers.
When a seaman is injured on the job, they may have a number of rights to seek compensation or other damages. This includes:
- Maintenance and Cure Claims from the Employer
- Negligence Claim Against an Employer
- Negligence Claim for Unseaworthiness Against the Owner of the Vessel
Maintenance and Cure Claims from the Employer
Like workers' compensation claims, an injured seaman has a right to collect maintenance and cure benefits from an employer. If the worker is injured in the course of work, they can receive compensation to replace the wages lost from not being able to work (maintenance), and medical care costs for the workplace injury (cure).
Negligence Claim Against an Employer
When an accident was caused by the negligence of an employer, the seaman can file a civil lawsuit for damages caused by the accident. This can include damages for loss of income, pain and suffering, medical treatment, and loss of future earnings.
There is a low burden for negligence claims under the Jones Act. If the employer does not keep the vessel in a reasonably safe condition, the employer may be liable for any accidents caused by unsafe conditions. If another employee or seaman caused the accident or injury, the employer may also be held liable for the negligence of the employee.
Negligence Claim for Unseaworthiness Against the Owner of the Vessel
Under maritime law, the owner of a vessel may be liable for any damages or injuries caused by an unseaworthy vessel. The vessel owner may be liable for failure to make sure the vessel and equipment are safe and in proper working order, and the crew is seaworthy and properly trained and equipped.
Longshoremen & Harbor Workers Compensation Act
The Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that provides protections for employees engaged in maritime employment. This generally includes longshoremen, harbor workers, shipbuilders, ship-breakers, and ship repairmen.
The act provides for compensation for any injury that occurs upon the navigable waters of the United States, including pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, marine railway, or adjoining areas used in loading, unloading, repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel.
Compensation for Injured Longshoremen and Harbor Workers
Like workers' compensation laws for other workers, LHWCA provides compensation for workers who are unable to work because of a work-related disability. Compensation includes wage replacement for the time the worker is disabled and unable to return to work, and medical service for such period as the nature of the injury or process of recovery may require. Compensation for disability can be classified as:
- Permanent total disability,
- Temporary total disability, or
- Permanent partial disability.
However, as with claims under the Jones Act, there are Statutes of Limitation, or time limits, for filing so you need to proceed with your claim without delay. Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation claims have especially short Statutes of Limitation, so make sure you contact your Maritime Injury lawyer as soon as possible so your claim will not be denied.
Maritime Accidents Resulting in Death
If a maritime accident results in death, the surviving family members may be able to get compensation for the loss of a loved one. The compensation available may depend on whether the worker was classified as a seaman, longshoreman or harbor worker, or other type of maritime job. If a loved one died in a maritime accident, the employer, ship owner, or person who caused the accident should be held responsible for their actions. Contact a maritime wrongful death accident lawyer to understand your rights and file your claim.
Cape Fear Maritime Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered an injury on a ship, boat, dredge, dock, or harbor, you deserve to have your medical benefits covered and get compensation for your injuries. Make sure your claim is filed in time so you can get the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact Cape Fear area maritime injury lawyer Matthew J. Dixon today for a free consultation.