Seamen Needing To File A Maritime Claim For An Injury

by Terry Bryant

With as many dangers as seamen face while working aboard a vessel, it should come as no surprise that many find themselves needing to file a maritime claim for an injury they have endured. Although quite similar to a typical worker’s compensation suit, this more specialized category of claims has specific procedures to follow and potentially more damages to recover.

Also known as admiralty or Jones Act law, this set of regulations has the means for compensating both seamen and on-shore employees. To be considered a qualifying seaman the individual must be aboard a navigating vessel a minimum of 30% of the time. Laws at the federal level require that these workers be compensated by their employers in the case of an injury, death, or property damage. Liability in a maritime claim is ultimately determined by the vessel, the victim’s job, and the conditions at the time.

While employers are required to carry Federal Longshoremen’s Coverage, the Jones Act and Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Acts ensure adequate compensation is awarded. The Jones Act ensures damages are disbursed as a result of the negligence on the part of the employer or co-workers while aboard the vessel. In contrast, the latter covers those employees working on-shore. When the vessel is considered unseaworthy, the victim may file a claim against the ship owner as well, yet they will not be found liable for conditions not within their control such as dangers and public enemies at sea. It is best to report the incident to the boat master as soon as possible, but this type of case typically has a statute of limitations of three years.

“Maintenance and cure” benefits are commonly awarded as a result of a maritime claim.  Maintenance covers everyday expenses while cure refers to any short and long-term medical care. Both are provided until the victim reaches the maximum amount of medical improvement.

An attorney with experience in admiralty lawsuits should be considered in order to ensure the proper procedures are taken and adequate compensation is received.