Working on or near the water can be a dangerous occupation, putting you at risk for serious and often life-threatening injuries. Certain laws exist that provide a way to seek compensation for medical expenses and other related costs for injured maritime workers.
However, these laws can be difficult to understand, which is why you should consult with a Flint maritime injury lawyer who is well-versed in maritime laws and how to pursue claims. Our lawyers at Jay Trucks & Associates have been fighting for the rights of injury victims for over three decades, obtaining more than $500 million in compensation on their behalf.
Schedule a free consultation to review your situation and discuss your legal options. If you have grounds to take legal action, we do not charge for representing you unless we help you obtain compensation.
Call us 24/7 at (800) 762-8623.
About The Jones Act
The Jones Act is a federal law that applies to seamen - anyone who does at least 30 percent of his or her job as a crewmember or captain on a vessel in navigation. A seaman must have duties related to the function or mission of the vessel and have some connection to the vessel or an identifiable group of such vessels.
Employees who qualify as seamen include the following:
Those who do not meet these qualifications include members of the vessel’s administrative support staff.
This law covers injuries that occur on any type of boat or vessel if it is in navigation. However, the vessel does not have to be in the water at the time of the injury to be covered. It can be tied up in a dock. The vessel needs to be afloat, in operation, capable of moving or on waters that can be navigated.
Filing A Claim Under The Jones Act
The Jones Act allows seamen to sue their employers for negligence for injuries that occur while on the job. This means that injured seamen are excluded from workers’ compensation laws.
If you file a claim, you must prove two things:
- Your injury happened at work – Our lawyers are prepared to help collect evidence to establish where and how the injury happened. This could include obtaining a copy of the accident report, statements from witnesses, and pictures of the accident scene and your injuries.
- Your injury was due to another person’s negligence – The injury would not have occurred if the other party upheld his or her duty of care to act as a reasonable person would have in the same type of situation. Unlike personal injury claims, we do not need to prove that negligence directly resulted in your injury, only that negligence played a role, no matter how small.
Negligent behavior that often results in maritime injuries may include:
- Colliding with other boats or vessels
- Poorly maintained machinery
- Hiring unqualified crewmembers
- Operating an unseaworthy vessel
- Defective products or equipment
- Failing to clean up oil or grease on the deck
- Inadequately training crewmembers
- Lack of proper oversight or supervision
- Failing to require crewmembers to obey safety procedures
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When Can the Ship Owner Be Held Liable?
Maritime law states that the owner of a vessel may be held liable for losses or damages that occur during a voyage. However, many ship owners try to avoid responsibility for accidents or deaths that occur on their vessel through The Limitation of Liability Act. This act allows limited liability in certain situations if the unseaworthy condition of the vessel caused loss or damage without the owner’s knowledge.
Our Flint maritime injury lawyers are ready to help establish that the vessel was unseaworthy because the ship owner did not provide a safe and suitable environment for a seaman to perform his or her work. This could include failing to repair certain machinery or equipment or operating a vessel in inclement weather. We just need to show that the area where the injury occurred on the vessel was unsafe, versus having to prove the whole vessel was unsafe.
Benefits for Injured Crewmembers
The Jones Act helps injured crewmember pursue compensation for their injuries. The damages are like those sought in personal injury claims, such as:
- Medical bills – Medical expenses for immediate treatment and its related costs as well as future medical costs considered reasonable and necessary. Examples include travel expenses to medical facilities, physical and occupational therapy, specialized medical equipment, etc.
- Lost wages – Certain injuries can prevent a crewmember from returning to work for some time or in the same capacity. Wages lost since the injury occurred may be compensable.
- Lost earnings capacity – These are future wages to be lost because the crewmember cannot return to work at all due to a permanent disability or may need to work in a new type of job or fewer hours. Promotions and other work benefits may be considered.
- Pain and suffering – This includes physical injuries to the body and the psychological stress caused by those injuries. A crewmember may be awarded for aches, the inability to perform physical activities, scarring or disfigurement, mental anguish, depression, etc.
- Loss of enjoyment of life – Serious injuries and disabilities can take a crewmember’s ability to enjoy life. Loss of mobility, chronic pain and a lack of physical stamina can prevent an injured crewmember from enjoying leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.
This act could also help cover other damages, such as maintenance and cure. Maintenance helps provide for the injured crewmember’s daily living expenses while being off work because of an injury. This could include expenses related to rent, mortgage payment, home insurance, groceries and property taxes. Cure helps to cover the costs of medical treatment, medications and rehabilitation.
Maritime Workers Not Covered By The Jones Act
Those whose work involves maritime activities but are very seldom on navigable waters are not covered by The Jones Act. This includes dock workers, shipbuilders, and harbor workers as well as employees who work on multiple vessels that are not under the same ownership.
For these workers, maritime law does offer legal recourse through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
This act helps maritime workers who load, unload, repair or build vessels on piers, terminals, wharves and docks to pursue workers’ compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries. Workers who transport goods from a ship may also be covered by the LHWCA.
Employees specifically excluded include:
- Seamen covered by The Jones Act
- Those covered by Michigan workers’ compensation laws
- Employees who perform office clerical, secretarial, security or data processing work
- Those employed by a camp, museum recreational operation, restaurant or retail outlet
- Those whose injuries were due to intoxication
- Aquaculture employees
- Employees of suppliers, transporters or vendors engaged in work normally done by other employers
- Those employed to build recreational vessels under 65 feet in length
- Those tasked with loading, unloading or repairing vessels weighing under 18 tons
- Employees at marinas who are not engaged in construction, replacement or expansion of the marina
Compensation Available for LHWCA Claims
LHWCA claims are like workers’ compensation claims in that you do not need to prove that your work-related injury was caused by negligence. Our legal team would need to show that you meet the act’s definition of a maritime worker and that the injury occurred in an area covered by the LHWCA.
This includes accidental injuries or deaths that arise out of and in the course of employment, and infections and diseases that occur naturally during employment.
Forms of compensation you may be eligible for could include:
- Medical expenses – Costs you have incurred for treating your injuries, such as emergency services, hospitalization, surgeries, medical tests, prescription medications and doctor’s appointments.
- Partial disability benefits – This is equal to two-thirds of your loss of earning capacity if your injury prevents you from working in the same capacity as before.
- Total disability benefits – This is equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wages if you have permanently lost the use of your arms, legs, feet, eyes, hands or any combination of limbs.
- Vocal rehabilitation – Services designed to help you find work in another field or in a different position because you can no longer work in the same field you had experience and training in.
- Death benefits – These benefits are capped at 200 percent of the national average weekly wage.
Need legal help? A Flint maritime injury lawyer is available to answer any questions in a free consultation.
Call Our Flint Maritime Injury Lawyers to Get Started
For LHWCA claims and claims filed under The Jones Act, there are strict deadlines to adhere to. Failure to meet the deadline will likely result in being unable to pursue compensation for your injury.
You need an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who understands maritime laws and how they may apply to your situation. These laws are complex and difficult to understand on your own without legal help.
Our representatives at Jay Trucks & Associates are standing by to take your call. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your potential legal options. We only get paid if you obtain a recovery.
Call us anytime, day or night, at (800) 762-8623.