Ways Maritime Law Litigation Is Different From Other Claims

by Terry Bryant

Maritime law typically involves litigation that is completely different from other injury claims. Under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, qualified seamen are subject to a number of benefits and challenges that make this field highly complex. Unlike workers compensation claims, qualified seamen aren’t protected, regardless of how the injury happens. This can make injury claims much riskier as employer negligence will have to be proven. For this reason, an experienced personal injury attorney should be selected to represent injured seaman.

There are two primary differences between most injury claims and maritime law litigation. When a seaman is hurt, they will have to prove the vessel owner is responsible for the injury, at least in part. This is usually done by proving negligence, and it is only applicable in certain circumstances. There are several situations in which a vessel owner cannot be held responsible for negligence, including unforeseen dangers of the sea, a defect with carried cargo, or injuries caused while attempting to save property or lives at sea. However, if the ship has not been properly maintained or staffed, the vessel owner may be held liable for negligence.

While this means a seaman may not be protected if they are hurt, maritime law litigation is not confined by scheduled payments as is workers compensation. This means an injured seaman may be able to receive much more compensation if negligence is found.

To register a claim under the Jones Act, a seaman has to spend at least 30 percent of their time working on an operating vessel at sea. Employers may attempt to exploit this during an injury claim, so a personal injury attorney will first work to demonstrate a seaman’s work history.

Anyone hurt while working at sea can quickly be overwhelmed by the intricacies of the legal system. An attorney with plenty of experience in this area will be able to clarify everything for a victim and give them the representation they need.