How Can A Maritime Attorney Help A Qualified Seamen?

by Terry Bryant

A maritime attorney has to have detailed knowledge of some important federal statutes, in particular The Jones Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). These two acts offer additional protections and benefits to workers who spend their time next to or on navigable waters, but a worker must qualify to be eligible. It will be the lawyer’s job to ensure their client is clearly able to pull benefits from one of the two acts.

The Jones Act allows qualified seamen to file negligence claims against an employer, allows the seaman to recover maintenance and cure, and reduces the burden of proof for the worker, which increases employer liability. The LHWCA allows a qualifying worker to recover permanent or temporary partial or complete disability benefits, and these payments tend to be higher than those offered by workers’ compensation.

A significant part of a case will be needed to establish the victim’s work history. A maritime attorney will have to prove that their client is eligible for special benefits, typically by using work records and witness testimony. A seaman must spend at least 30 percent of their working time on a navigating vessel, and people who seek benefits through the LHWCA will need to show that they work in a field directly related to the maintenance, construction, or breaking of vessels, and must also show that they work within a mile of navigable waters.

There’s a lot of moving parts to these cases, which is why it is always better to choose a lawyer that has experience in the field.